Thiagarajan Kumararaja

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Thiagarajan Kumararaja
Thiagarajan Kumararaja at Launch of Stone Bench Films and Originals.jpg
Thiagarajan Kumararaja at Launch of Stone Bench Films and Originals in 2017
Born (1976-05-07) 7 May 1976 (age 44)
Tamil Nadu, India
Alma materLoyola College, Chennai
OccupationFilm director, screenplay writer, producer and ad director
Years active2008–present

Thiagarajan Kumararaja is an Indian film director and screenwriter. He made his feature film debut with the critically acclaimed neo-noir gangster film Aaranya Kaandam (2011), which earned him the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director at the 59th National Film Awards.


Thiagarajan Kumararaja was born and raised in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. His parents thought he would pick up bad habits if he stepped out, so he stayed mostly at home. He likes books of Sujatha, Rajesh Kumar, Kovi Manisekaran & Sandilyan. But the real entertainment was the bus ride from his home in Porur to Santhome Higher Secondary School. He used to stand next to the driver, observing the driver. "I wanted to be a PTC bus driver," he says. At the Class XII failed in Mathematics subject. On his words "If I didn’t like the teacher, I wouldn’t study."

He enrolled for a Visual Communications course at the Loyola College, Chennai, but dropped out shortly after to make films. Kumararaja cited that it was composer Ilaiyaraaja's music that animated him to come to films and to study Visual Communications in the first place.[1] However, he discontinued his studies in 1998 and started to work as a freelance copywriter and photographer for a while.[2][3] He went on to shoot advertisement films and also directed a five-part documentary on South Indian Temples, Sthala Puranam for Vijay TV.[2] In 2005, he participated at the one-minute film competition 60 Seconds to Fame by Ability Foundation, aiming for the prize money.[2] His short film Becky was awarded the first prize at the Ability Fest 2005.[4] Kumararaja then collaborated with Pushkar-Gayathri, writing the dialogue of their directorial debut Oram Po (2007).[2] He would later write all songs for their second project Va (2010) as well.[5] Through Pushkar-Gayathri, Kumararaja met S. P. B. Charan, who agreed to produce his first feature film Aaranya Kaandam.

Kumararaja began writing his maiden film in December 2006.[2] Although he had wanted to make a "racy film" – he wrote the climax part first, before going on to add multiple storylines – he said that the film had eventually turned out to be a "leisurely paced film, taking its own time to unfold".[1] Kumararaja met Charan in January 2007 and narrated him the script for two hours.[2] Filming was supposed to commence by late 2007,[6][7] but Charan opted to produce another film first. Aaranya Kaandam was launched in December 2008,[8] with Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff, who was being introducing to Tamil films, Ravi Krishna and Sampath Raj in the lead roles. Kumararaja took more than one and a half years to complete the film, which was entirely shot in and around Chennai.[9] Upon completion, the film ran into trouble when the regional censor board in Chennai refused to clear it, demanding 52 cuts due to profanity and excessive violence.[10] Kumararaja expressed that he made the film for a matured audience and not for children,[11] while adding that he expected difficulties in the censorship. Since he wanted to present the film uncompromisingly to the audiences, he and Charan approached the Central Tribunal at Delhi,[12] that cleared the film. Dubbed as the first neo-noir film in Tamil cinema,[13] Aaranya Kaandam opened to strong critical acclaim, winning the Grand Jury Award for Best Film at the 2010 South Asian International Film Festival,[14] and two prizes at the 59th National Film Awards, including the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director for Kumararaja.[14]

In 2015, he was involved as a script consultant for the Tamil film Yennai Arindhaal, which was co-written and directed by Gautham Menon.[15]


As Director
Year Film Director Writer Producer Language Notes
2005 Becky Yes Yes Yes English Short film
2011 Aaranya Kaandam Yes Yes No Tamil
2019 Super Deluxe Yes Yes Yes Tamil

As Other

Year Film Language Notes
2007 Oram Po Tamil Dialogue Writer
2010 Va Tamil Lyricist
2015 Yennai Arindhaal Tamil Script Consultant[15]
2015 X: Past Is Present English
Summer Holiday Segment Writer
2018 Seethakaathi Tamil Lyricist [Ayya]


Film Award Category Result Ref
Becky 60 Seconds to Fame One-minute film first prize [16]
Aaranya Kaandam 59th National Film Awards Best Debut Film of a Director Won [17]
6th Vijay Awards Best Director Nominated [18] [19]
Best Story, Screenplay Writer Won
Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards Best Screenplay Writer Won
South Indian International Movie Awards Best Director – Tamil Nominated
Super Deluxe Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Best Director Nominated [20]
Equality in Cinema (Honorary Award) Won
9th AACTA Awards Best Asian Film Nominated [21]
Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards Best Screenplay Nominated [22]
Edison Awards Best Director Nominated [23] [24]
Best Screenplay Nominated
Critics Choice Film Awards Best Movie of the Year Won [25]
Best Film - Tamil Won
Best Director - Tamil Won
Best Writing - Tamil Won


  1. ^ a b "Aaranya Kaandam: A day in a gangster's life". Rediff. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Sudhish Kamath (5 February 2011). "A new chapter". The Hindu. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  3. ^ "No South Indian actor was ready to play an impotent don: Kumararaja, Aaranya Kaandam director". 4 August 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Ability Fest 2005". Ability Foundation. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Va Quarter Cutting music is worth a listen". Rediff. 13 September 2010. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  6. ^ "SPB Charan's new gambit". Indiaglitz. 31 July 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Dailynews – SPB Charan's 'Aranya Kaandam'". Cinesouth. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Events – 'Aaranya Kaandam' Movie Launch". 18 December 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  9. ^ V Lakshmi (22 January 2009). "Kumar Raja tells all". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  10. ^ Bijoy Bharathan (8 February 2011). "Thiagarajan: Caught in the crossfire". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  11. ^ Sreedhar Pillai (26 January 2011). "Censor Board butchered Aaranya Kaandam". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  12. ^ "'I have no problem with the 'A' certificate'". Rediff. 1 March 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Movie Review : Aaranya Kaandam". Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  14. ^ a b V Lakshmi (4 November 2010). "Aaranya Kaandam wins best movie award". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  15. ^ a b Udhav Naig (1 February 2015). "Gautham Menon hires script consultants". The Hindu. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  16. ^ "From the States". 20 November 2008. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  17. ^ "59th National Film Awards for the Year 2011 Announced". Press Information Bureau (PIB), India. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  18. ^ "6th Annual Vijay Awards". India Glitz. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Andhadhun, Gully Boy lead nominations at Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Awards 2019". Firstpost. 17 July 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  21. ^ "Nominees for the 2019 AACTA Award for Best Asian Film Announced". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. 15 October 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  22. ^ "The prestigious awards of the South-- Vikatan Awards 2019". India TV. 12 January 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  23. ^ "Edison Awards 2020 nominations". Edison Awards. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Edison Awards 2020 Winners". Flickstatus. 14 January 2020. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Review — Super Deluxe". Film Critics Circle. 28 March 2020. Retrieved 15 April 2020.

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