Ranjith (director)

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Born (1964-09-05) 5 September 1964 (age 55)
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, producer, actor
Years active1987–present
Spouse(s)Sreeja Ranjith
ChildrenAgnivesh Ranjith
Aswaghosh Ranjith

Ranjith Balakrishnan (born 5 September 1964) is a veteran Indian film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor who works in Malayalam cinema. Ranjith made his directorial debut in 2001 with Ravanaprabhu, a sequel to Devaasuram. His films Thirakkatha and Indian Rupee won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam in 2008 and 2011 respectively.[1]

Early life[edit]

Ranjith was born in Balussery in Kozhikode, Kerala. He graduated from the School of Drama and Fine Arts, Thrissur, in 1985.


Early career[edit]

During the late 1980s, Ranjith tried his hand at skits and television serials for Doordarshan.[citation needed]. Ranjith's entry into Mollywood was accidental, he was inspired by his friend, the late film producer and director Alex I. Kadavil, in whose residence he had stayed for his debut in the film industry. In 1987, he made his debut as a writer in Oru Maymasa Pulariyil, produced by Alex I. Kadavil and directed by V. R. Gopinath.[2] In 1988, Ranjith made his formal entry into the film world by writing the story for Orkkapurathu, an adventure film directed by Kamal, with Mohanlal in the lead role. The immediate success of Orkkapurathu brought Ranjith several opportunities to work in films. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ranjith wrote scripts for several small budget films, mainly for Kamal, including Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal (1989), Pradeshika Varthakal (1989) and Pookkalam Varavayi (1991).

Another director with whom Ranjith worked during this period was Viji Thampi. This team released Witness (1988), Nanma Niranjavan Sreenivasan (1990), Nagarangalil Chennu Raparkam (1989) and Kaalalpada (1990), all with Jayaram in the lead role. In 1992, he wrote Neelagiri for I. V. Sasi, which underperformed at the box office. This was followed by Johnnie Walker, directed by Jayaraj, which was noted for its different filmmaking style; the film turned out to be a trendsetter in many ways.[3][4]

1993 to 2000[edit]

1993 was a huge turning point in Ranjith's career: Devasuram, his film based on the life of his father-figure, Mullassery Rajagopal,[5] turned out to be a huge box office hit. With Mohanlal in the lead and directed by I.V. Sasi, Devasuram was both critically and commercially acclaimed; Mohanlal's performance was lauded and it opened a new genre of feudal stories in Malayalam cinema. Within two months of the release of Devasuram, Ranjith's next movie, Maya Mayuram (directed by Sibi Malayil and again starring Mohanlal) was released, but was not as successful. According to Ranjith, Maya Mayuram is one of his best films and its failure affected him greatly. Ranjith mentioned in an interview that several directors passed on the opportunity to make Maya Mayuram, and it was Mohanlal who convinced Sibi Malayil to get involved.

After writing Yadavam (directed by Jomon and starring Suresh Gopi), Ranjith worked with Shaji Kailas for Rudraksham, again starring Suresh Gopi, who was at the peak of his career. This film generated significant hype in the market as Shaji Kailas-Suresh Gopi was a hot selling team at the time, but the loose script and clichéd humorless dialogues led to Rudraksham becoming a flop. His next piece of work, Rajaputhran, directed by Shajun Karyal, again with Suresh Gopi in the lead, became a superhit.[6]

In 1997, Ranjith teamed up again with Shaji Kailas for Asuravamsham, starring Manoj K Jayan and Biju Menon; the film yielded an average commercial response. Towards the end of 1997, Ranjith penned Aaraam Thampuran, which went to become one of the biggest hits of his career. Directed by Shaji Kailas, the film broke several box office collection records and received praise from critics. This film was also a turning point in the career of Mohanlal, and with it Ranjith gained a reputation as a commercially viable scriptwriter. Then came Kaikudanna Nilavu, in 1998, directed by Kamal, starring Jayaram, yet another average grosser. In 1998 Ranjith scripted Summer in Bethlehem, directed by Sibi Malayil, starring Suresh Gopi and Jayaram, a super hit.[7] In 1999, Ranjith and Shaji Kailas produced the film Ustaad, directed by Sibi Malayil, starring Mohanlal. This film, written by Ranjith, was a super hit at the box office.

The year 2000 began with the release of Narasimham, directed by Shaji Kailas. With Mohanlal playing the lead role, this film became one of the biggest hits ever in the history of Malayalam cinema at the time.[8][9] Yet again in 2000, together with Shaji Kailas, Ranjith repeated history: his Onam release Valliettan starring Mammooty was a commercial success. This was his last script for Shaji Kailas[10] and with this film Ranjith became the most successful scriptwriter of the time.

2001 to 2009[edit]

In 2001, Ranjith made his directorial debut with Ravanaprabhu, the sequel to Devasuram.[11] With Mohanlal appearing in dual roles as father and son, this film turned out to be another blockbuster.[12] In 2002 Ranjith came back with another blockbuster, Nandanam, starring Navya Nair and a new face, Prithviraj Sukumaran.[13] Ranjith produced this film along with his friend, actor Siddique. Nandanam, revolving around an innocent girl, her love for Lord Sri Krishna and her beau, was an entirely different and unexpected theme from Ranjith at the time. Despite the film not having a big star cast, fights, or punchy dialogues – and being shelved after some pre-production activities – it became a hit.[14]

In 2003 Ranjith directed Mizhi Randilum, starring Dileep and Kavya Madhavan, another family drama, which failed to impress the masses, but was critically acclaimed. In the same year Ranjith scripted Ammakilikood, directed by Padmakumar with Prithviraj in the lead role, which also got the cold shoulder from the public. In 2004 Ranjith teamed up with Mammooty for Black, which was a complete commercial entertainer targeting the fans of Mammootty.[15][16] Chandrolsavam, starring Mohanlal, followed in 2005.[17] Ranjith believes that it was not a bad film. He said, "Mohanlal fans expected too much. I don't think it was a bad film. Many who watched it on DVD called to say they were surprised it did not do well. Fans come in with pre-conceived notions on how the actor will be in the movie and the kind of story it will be, hence they could not grasp the poetic element in the film."[18]

In 2006, he scripted and directed Prajapathi, starring Mammootty, was also blasted by critics,[19] and was another disastrous movie.[20] His next venture was an offbeat film Kaiyoppu. Though a flop at the box office, Kaiyoppu brought critical appreciation from far corners and that compelled Ranjith to work with plots and themes without any commercial ingredients. Notably, its lead actor Mammootty received no payment to act in the film as the script impressed him so much.[21]

In 2007, Ranjith teamed up with Joshiy for the big budget film Nasrani starring Mammootty.[22][23][24][25] His next directorial feature was the musical-comedy Rock & Roll, starring Mohanlal.[26][27] In 2008 Ranjith directed Thirakkatha, based on actress Srividya's life,[28] which won the National Award for the Best Malayalam Feature Film. Starring Anoop Menon and Priyamani, the movie featured Prithviraj and Samvrutha Sunil in important supporting roles. The movie was able to bring out the best in the actors.[29][30] In 2009 Ranjith directed and wrote the script for Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Katha, which was critically acclaimed.[31] Ranjith also introduced about thirty Malayalam stage artists through this film.[32] In the same year he came up with another unique creation, Kerala Cafe — a fusion of ten different short films by ten directors. The different segments in the movie were conceived and connected based on the concept of Yatra, or journey.[33]

2010 onwards[edit]

In 2010 Ranjith wrote the story for the film Penpattanam, directed by V. M. Vinu. He then scripted and directed, Pranchiyettan and the Saint, starring Mammootty, which was also widely accepted by movie fans and the people of Kerala. It became the most popular film of the year and was also a commercial success. During this time, Ranjith also received a highly coveted appointment as the School Director for Cochin Media School.[34] He also appeared as judge in "Mammootty the Best Actor Award – II", an acting talent-hunt reality show aired on the television channel Asianet.[35] In 2011, Ranjith scripted and directed a critically acclaimed satirical film Indian Rupee starring Prithviraj, which was well received by the critics and also a commercial success. His next film, Spirit, primarily focused on the increasing habits of alcoholism in Kerala. Starring Mohanlal in the lead role, the film was critically acclaimed and a box office success. He then produced and scripted for G. S. Vijayan's Mammootty-starring Bavuttiyude Namathil in 2012, which was a flop at the box office. His next film with Mammootty, Kadal Kadannoru Mathukkutty, underperformed at the box office.

Njaan, based on the novel K T N Kottoor: Ezhuthum Jeevithavum by T P Rajeevan and featuring Dulquer Salmaan in the lead role, was released on 19 September 2014.[36] Although the film was well-appreciated by critics, it was a commercial failure. Ranjith's bad fortune at the box office was short-lived, however. In 2015, his next film, Loham, starring Mohanlal, became a superhit at the box office.


Year Film Credited as
Director Producer Screenwriter Story Actor
2020 One Yes
King Fish Yes
Ayyappanum Koshiyum Yes Yes
2019 Unda Yes
2018 Drama[37] Yes Yes Yes
Koode Yes
2017 Puthan Panam Yes Yes Yes Yes
2016 Leela Yes Yes
2015 Loham Yes Yes Yes
Ayal Njanalla Yes
2014 Njan Yes Yes Yes
Munnariyippu Yes
2013 Kadal Kadannoru Mathukkutty Yes Yes Yes
Annayum Rasoolum Yes
2012 Bavuttiyude Namathil Yes Yes Yes
Jawan of Vellimala Yes
Spirit Yes Yes Yes
2011 Indian Rupee Yes Yes Yes
Bhakthajanangalude Sradhakku Yes
2010 Pranchiyettan and The Saint Yes Yes Yes
Best Actor Yes
Penpattanam Yes
2009 Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha Yes Yes
Kerala Cafe Yes Yes
2008 Gulmohar Yes
Thirakkatha Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2007 Rock & Roll Yes Yes
Nasrani Yes Yes
Kaiyoppu Yes Yes
2006 Prajapathi Yes Yes
2005 Chandrolsavam Yes Yes
2004 Black Yes Yes
2003 Ammakilikkoodu Yes
Mizhi Randilum Yes Yes
2002 Nandanam Yes Yes Yes Yes
2001 Ravanaprabhu Yes Yes Yes
2000 Narasimham Yes
Valyettan Yes
1999 Ustaad Yes Yes
1998 Summer in Bethlehem Yes
1997 Aaraam Thampuran Yes
Asuravamsam Yes
Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu Yes
1996 Rajaputhran Yes
1994 Rudraksham Yes
1993 Yadavam Yes
Maya Mayuram Yes
Devasuram Yes
1992 Johnnie Walker Yes
1991 Neelagiri Yes
Pookkalam Varavayi Yes
Georgootty C/O Georgootty Yes Yes
1990 Nagarangalil Chennu Raparkam Yes
Marupuram Yes
Nanma Niranjavan Srinivasan Yes
Pavakkoothu Yes
Shubhayathra Yes
1989 Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal Yes
Pradeshika Vaarthakal Yes
Kaalal Pada Yes
1988 Orkkappurathu Yes
Witness Yes Yes
1987 Oru Maymasa Pulariyil Yes
Ezhuthappurangal Yes


National Film Awards:

Kerala State Film Awards:

Kerala Film Critics Awards

Asianet Film Awards

Filmfare Awards South

Other Awards:


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External links[edit]