Shaji N. Karun

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Shaji N. Karun
Shaji N. Karun.png
Born Shaji Neelakantan Karunakaran
(1952-01-01) 1 January 1952 (age 66)
Kollam, Kerala state, India
Occupation Film director, cinematographer
Children Anil Shaji
Appu Shaji
Parent(s) N. Karunakaran
Awards 1989, Special Mention, Caméra d'Or, Cannes Film Festival (Piravi), Charlie Chaplin Award 1989 (Piravi), Eastman Kodak Award for Excellence (Cinematography), Padmashree by Govt of India 2011[1]

Shaji Neelakantan Karun (born 1 January 1952) is an Indian film director and cinematographer. His debut film Piravi (1988) won the Caméra d'Or – Mention d'honneur at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. He was the premiere chairman of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, the first academy for film and TV in India and was also the executive chairman of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) from 1998 to 2001. He is best known for his award-winning films Piravi (1988), Swaham (1994), Vanaprastham (1999) and Kutty Srank (2009). He won the National Award for Best Director for his debut film Piravi. He also won two Kerala State Film Awards for Best Director for his films Swaham and Vanaprastham.


Shaji N. Karun was born on New Year's Day, 1952, as the eldest son of Mr. N. Karunakaran and Mrs. Chandramati in present-day Kollam district in the former state of Travancore state (now Kerala), India. The family moved to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the state in 1963. He did his schooling in Palkulangara H.S. and took a bachelor's degree from University College, Thiruvananthapuram. In 1971 he entered the Film and Television Institute of India, where he took his diploma in cinematography. His diploma film Genesis (1974), directed by Rahul Dasgupta, got many awards, and started his career. He won the GOLD medal on graduation in 1975.

Personal life[edit]

Shaji is married to Anasuya Warrier on 1 January 1975, daughter of P. K. R. Warrier, who was his neighbour in Trivandrum for quite some time. After a brief stint in the south Indian city of Madras, he returned to Thiruvananthapuram in 1976 where he got an appointment as film officer in the newly formed state Film Development Corporation. They have 2 sons, Anil and Appu. His association with the legendary Malayalam film maker G. Aravindan began at this time. Then he continued working with notable directors like G. Aravindan, K. G. George and M. T. Vasudevan Nair as a cinematographer.[2][3] His career also spreads to many activities by Government of India and Kerala where he served in the capacities of advisory status on policy decisions. 20th International film festival of Kerala conducted by the government of Kerala, in 2015 December 4–11, under his advisory capacity is marked by the Press and film lovers as the best of the festivals held so far. Aug 2018, he is selected for the position of 8th President of Purogamana Kala Sahitya Sangham (Progressive Arts & Literary Organization) an Association for Art and Letters.

Career in film direction[edit]

Shaji N. Karun giving a lecture at Saarang 2011, IIT Madras

Shaji made his directorial debut with the Malayalam film Piravi ("The Birth", 1988), which won him the prestigious Caméra d'Or – Mention d'honneur at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. While Piravi was about the grief of a father who loses his son, Shaji's second film, Swaham (1994) continued with the theme of grief. Swaham was selected to compete at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.[4] Vaanaprastham ("The Final Dance", 1999) dealt with the identity crisis faced by an actor. Mohanlal played the lead role in this film. He directed the film Nishad, made in Hindi, which was completed in May 2002, and premiered in the Fukuoka International Film Festival held in September 2002 in Japan. His latest film is titled Kutty Srank with Mammootty playing the lead role.[5] The film was released theatrically in Kerala on July 2010. His new film Swapaanam with Jayaram and Kadambari in lead roles has premiered at Dubai International Film Festival on 8 December 2013, a rare recognition for Malayalam Cinema as the World premier screening outside India.

He has also made around a dozen short films and documentaries. Besides making films, Shaji Karun has been active as a juror at many international film festivals and an active participant in governmental and academic arenas. He was the Premiere Chairman of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, the first academy for film and TV in India and was also the Executive Chairman of International Film Festival of Kerala from 1998 to 2001.

Upcoming Projects[edit]

As of January 2018 Shaji is completing the post-production of a new movie titled 'Olu' with Shane Nigam and Esther Anil playing the lead roles.[6] In a recent interview, Shaji revealed that 'Olu' is the tale of a girl who gets gang raped and sunk to the bottom of the backwaters where she can mysteriously survive and live for the next nine months -until she delivers her ‘baby from rape’. The film will attempt to convey her perception of innocent feminine desires – spiritual and transcendental feelings."[7]

His project Gaadha was announced in September 2012. Though was expected to commence shooting by November 2014, it has been postponed till further notice. Music was to be composed by the Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner.

Awards and milestones[edit]

National and international honors[edit]

  • Life Time Achievement- Tyrol : IFFI Prize (2014) Innsbruck Film Festival, AUSTRIA
  • Padma Shri in 2011 INDIA[8]
  • Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1999) FRANCE
  • The first Sir Charles Chaplin Award to commemorate the centenary of Chaplin's birth (1989) Edinburgh Film Festival,UK

As a cinematographer[edit]

As a director[edit]

National Film Awards:

Kerala State Film Awards:

Filmography as director[edit]

Short films[edit]

  • Wild Life of Kerala (1979)
  • Kerala Carnival (1980)
  • Kannikal (1986)
  • Sham's Vision (1996)
  • Bhavam (1998)
  • G. Aravindan (2000)
  • Big Man & Small World (2002)
  • AKG (2007)
  • "Fine Balance" (2010)
  • "Waiting" (2011)
  • "Artist Namboodiri-'NERUVARA'/'trueline' " (2015)

As a cinematographer[edit]


  1. ^ "Press Information Bureau". Retrieved 13 October 2016. 
  2. ^ "Thampu". 
  3. ^ "Panchavadi Palam". 
  4. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: Swaham". Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  5. ^ "Indian Entertainment News, Movie News, Movie Features – Bollywood – Tamil – Telugu – Malayalam – Kannada Movies". Retrieved 13 October 2016. 
  6. ^ "AVA Productions". Retrieved 1 January 2018. [non-primary source needed]
  7. ^ "Pickle". Retrieved 1 January 2018. 
  8. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Piravi". Retrieved 2 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Vanaprastham". Retrieved 26 December 2010. 

External links[edit]