Indians Abroad

M.N. Shyamalan

Famous As Film Director, Producer, Screenwriter and Actor
Born On 6 August 1970
Born In Puducherry, India
Nationality American

If there is any Indian-American film director who has managed to carve a niche for himself in Hollywood and garner phenomenal fan following, it is none other than Manoj Night Shyamalan. Coming from an affluent background, his parents always wanted him to pursue medicine. However, Shyamalan had different aspirations. His foray into films wasn't in anyway accidental as he dreamt of making movies ever since he got his first Super-8 camera at a young age. Since then, it has been a historical journey for this 40-year-old filmmaker. Today, he stands tall as one of Hollywood's greatest sensations and it would not be an exaggeration to tag Shyamalan as the century's most successful and controversial filmmakers. He struck gold with blockbuster hits like 'The Sixth Sense', 'Unbreakable', 'Signs', and 'The Village', that apparently went on to be the biggest box office money spinners and received enormous commercial and critical acclaim. His classic conventional style of 'twist in the tale' is what lends his flicks its unmistakable charm. Apart from being an enormous success, his films have won numerous nominations and recognition, catapulting Shyamalan to the league of Hollywood's most acclaimed filmmakers.

Early Life
Manoj was born in a small hamlet Mahe in Puduchery in India on August 6, 1970. Both his parents, Nelliyattu C. Shyamalan and Jayalakshmi, were physicians who started their respective careers in India before they relocated to the US in the 1960's. Even though Manoj was born in India, he never really had the opportunity to familiarize himself with his traditions and culture. Six weeks after he was born, his mother went back to Penn Valley in Pennsylvania where he was raised in plush surroundings. He was enrolled in Waldron Mercy Academy, a private school and was later shifted to Episcopal High School. In 1988, he earned erudition at the New York University and went to study at Tisch School of the Arts in Manhattan, from where he graduated in the year 1992. As a young child, he was always passionate about camera. Although his father wanted him to pursue medicine, his mother supported his decision to follow his ambition. After he graduated from college, Manoj decided to make films.

Shyamalan started conceptualizing his films even before he graduated from college. His first film 'Praying with Anger' was purely autobiographical. The film garnered rave reviews and was screened in Toronto International Film Festival. In 1992, during the screening of the film at Toronto International Film Festival, he met David Overbey, who saw great potential in him. The film 'Praying with Anger' soon caught up in many parts of the world and was screened in Chennai and Pennsylvania, and was also aired in television. In 1998, he produced 'Wide Awake'. Even though his career took a good start, he was still deemed as an amateur filmmaker. Thus, his parents decided to assist him by co-producing his second film. The film gained good reviews and received several nominations. Despite restricted release, the cinema managed to make a gross 305,704 US dollars at the local theatres. In the following year, he directed and wrote 'The Sixth Sense', which earned six Oscar nominations. In the same year he wrote the movie 'Stuart Little', which turned out to be an international success. In the subsequent years, Manoj rocked the box office with blockbusters like 'Unbreakable', 'Signs' and 'The Village', which he directed and produced under his production banner, Blinding Edge Pictures.

Achievements and Awards
Despite of the negative reviews and consecutive Razzie Awards that seemed to discredit his work, Shyamalan gained some extremely positive reviews and nominations for some of his films. His movie 'The Sixth Sense' won Academy Awards nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. In 2008, he was conferred Padma Shri by the Indian officials for his contributions in the domain of international films.

Personal Life
Shyamalan is married to Bhavna Vaswani, a psychologist whom he met during his college days in New York University. The couple has two daughters and lives in an exclusive family estate at Willistown, Pennsylvania.

Time Line
1970: Shyamalan was born on August 6 in Puduchery, India
1988: He enrolled in New York University to study films.
1992: He made his film debut with 'Prayer with Anger'.
1992: His first movie was featured at the Toronto Film Festival.
1999: The movie 'The Sixth Sense' was granted six different Oscar nominations
2000: 'Unbreakable' was released.
2004: 'The Village' was released.
2006: 'Lady In Water' was released.
2008: He was awarded Padma Shri for his contributions in films.
2010: Release of 'The Last Airbender'.