Remembering Malayalam Filmmaker P Padmarajan on his 75th Birth Anniversary

Novelist, film director, singer, story teller, screenplay writer, Editor..the list goes on. P Padmarajan, narrator and filmmaker was a magnificent presence in the cultural stage of Malayalees.

P. Padmarajan was a gifted storyteller, novelist, screenwriter, and director, who was endowed with so many unforgettable characters and story lines.
His short literary and film career spanning nearly three decades has included numerous short stories, more than thirty novels, short story collections, eighteen films in his own right, and twenty screenplays for other directors. In all respects, Padmarajan was a lightening glittering in the minds of Malayalee minds.

Padmarajan was born on May 23, 1945 in Muthukulam, Haripad in Alapuzha District. He was the sixth son of Thundathil Padmanabha Pillai and Navarakkal Devakiyamma. After completing his school education from Muthukulam, Padmarajan pursued his pre-university at the Mahatma Gandhi College, Thiruvananthapuram. Later, he completed BSc Chemistry from the Thiruvananthapuram University College. At the time of pursuing his postgraduation, Padmarajan learned Sanskrit from Chepad Achutha Warriar.


Padmarajan’s foray into a job after his studies was with All India Radio, where he joined as an Announcer way back in 1965. Much later, when he was fully busy with the cinema industry, he took voluntary retirement from AIR in 1986.

Literary Contributions

Padmarajan’s first published work was the short story, “Lola Miss Ford,” the American Girl, published in the Malayalam Weekly, Kaumdi when he was still in college. It was in the ’60s that the nuances of modernity began to grow in the field of Malayalam storytelling and literature. Gradually his writings began to be noted in the literary world.
Since then, Padmarajan has published in excess of 120 short stories and about 10 short stories till the beginning of early ’90s, before he bid adiue to all of us. Padmarajan’s rise from short story write into the realm of novel writing.

In 1971, Padmarajan wrote his first novel, “Nakshathrangale Kaaval,” which was noted for its storytelling and writing style. In addition to critical acclaim, Padmarajan won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and Kumkumam Award that year.

Later, Padmarajan published a slew of novesls such as Vaadakaikkoru Hridhayam, Ithaa Ivide Vare, Shavavaahanangalum Thedu, Kallan Pavithran, Udakappola, Manjukaalamnotta Kuthira, Prathimayum Raajakumaariyum, Ridhubedhangalude Paaridoshikam, Peruvazhiyambalam, Rathinirvedham and Jalajwaala, Nammude Sooryan, Onnum Rendum Moonu.

Foray into Celluloid World

Padmarajan’s foray into the Malayalam celluloid world was in 1975. The beginning of his cinema career was as a script writer, where he wrote the script for Director Bharathan’s movie, Pranayam in the same year.

As an art form, it stands between “parallel” and “commercial” films, which are made in the language of high-profile cinematic films and which emphasize the commercial elements behind the film, Malayali film industry marked the beginning of a cinema streak known as ‘Middle Cinema’ was from this movie, which was born out of the Bharathan-Padmarajan combo.

The excellence that is pronounced both in terms of the story line as well as and in terms of the creation of characters, along with the life-spontaneity of dialogues, such mediocre films, with their visual clarity, received active audience acceptance. In a sense, the Bharathan-Padmarajan team will be in the forefront of the filmmakers who have created a healthy new path in Malayalam cinema.
Their movies, in the past, in the presence and always evoke green nostalgia in the minds of the audience.

Directorial Debut

Padmarajan made his directorial debut in 1979, with the cinema adaptation of his own novel, Peruvazhiyambalam.”

The film has received critical acclaim and audience acceptance, demonstrating that the art and cinema of the film industry is safe in his hands. After that, Padmarajan directed an array of excellent movies such as Oridathoru Fayalvan, Kallan Pavithran, Novemberinte Nashtam, Koodevide, Prannu Parannu Parannu; Thingalaazcha Nalla Divasam, Namukku Paarkkaan Munthirithoppukal, Kariyilakaatupole, Arappattakettiya Graamathil, Deshadanakkili Karayaarilla, Nombarathipoovu, Thuvaanathumbikal, Aparan, Moonaampakkam, Season, Innale and Njaan Ghandarvan.

In addition to the awards he received for his novel, Nakshathrangale Kaaval, Padmarajan received the National Award for Best Film twice. In 1979, he received the National Award for his film Peruvazhiyambalam and in 1986, Padmarajan received the same award for his movie, Thingalaazcha Nalla Divasam.

Besides that, he has received several state awards, Film Critics Awards and Film Fans Awards. He had an unparalleled role in all the scenarios he had ever undertaken – storytelling, screenwriting or film making.

Examples of his insights and his life-consciousness are his explorations, his life-changing storytelling, and his natural flow of understanding as the story demands them.
He had a special ability to portray human relationships and their emotions in letters and frames in their intensity as well as criticality. In the case of his own life, however, he had to surrender to the brutal cruelty of fate, like the character of his last film, Gandharvan.

Ghandharvan, who gave us many stories, stories and films of sunshine that are still alive in our minds, went to his own Gandharvan world on January 24, 1991 at the age of forty-six.
Padmarajan married Ambat Radhalakshmi, who was his colleague in the AIR. The couple has two children – Anantha Padmanabhan and Madhavikutty. Anantha Padmanabhan is a storyteller, filmmaker and journalist like his father.
Madhavikutty is living in Bangalore after her marriage. Padmarajan will always remain an enigma in the minds of the Malayalam cine buffs for the generations to come.