Padmarajan - An Invaluable Intellectual Persona

Padmarajan Malayalam filmmaker's 24th death anniversary

24th January 1991 was the day at Paramount Towers Hotel in Calicut. Clock was ticking around midnight, a silent heart attack left a man sleeping in his room alone. Gandhimathi Balan knocked at the doors of Producer Goodknight Mohan and Nitish Bhardwaj. They all rush through the room to know that what happened to that man. Mohanlal also made it to the hotel to know about this man, but it was too late. That man was Malayalam Cinema's genius Padmarajan as every film lover popularly known him as 'Pappettan'.


  • Influence of Malayalam films

It was the time, when he took up the pen to rewrite the destiny for Malayalam films and that era was considered as most precious and transcendent in terms of film making. His working guise have influenced many in new generation of film fraternity. Along with legends K G George and Bharathan, Padmarajan movies sets out to change the established methods in Malayalam cinema. On 24th January 2020, it was his 29th death anniversary and we all know him as Padmarajan


Everyone who hails from the film field, affectionately calls him "Papettan". In all these years, Padmarajan lived along with cinema and with his sudden demise, he left a feel of sorrow and isolation for Malayalam movie lovers. 

  • Early Life

P.Padmarajan Pillai was born on 1945, May 23 at Muthukulam, near Onattukara in Alleppey (Alappuzha) district, Kerala. His father Anantha Padmanabha Pillai and Njavarakal Devaki Amma's sixth son Padmarajan completed his schooling at Muthukulam and later on moved to Trivandrum for higher studies with M.G.College and University for the graduation in Chemistry in 1963. Padmarajan's touch in Sanskrit enhanced under the guidance of Achyutha Warrier. In 1965, He joined All India Radio, Thrissur and continued as a programme announcer until 1986, after this he chose to voluntary retirement from AIR . He also shifted to Poojapurra in 1968 to concentrate on his story and script writing.

  • Padmarajan books

'Nakshatrangale Kaaval' was his first novel, which bestowed Padmarajan with Kerala Sahithya Academy Award in 1972, which turned to the cinema by director K S Sethumadhavan. Then came the golden era of Malayalam cinema in 1975, with the new approach to the Malayalam films which gave new meanings to the commercial and intellectual based cinemas. Padmarajan step to the Malayalam cinema world with director Bharathan's first movie 'Prayaanam' by preparing the screenplay for this film. Along with Bharathan and K.G.George, he maintained his stature for the parallel films.

However Padmarajan books and short stories had presented the golden years in the history of Malayalam film industry and proved that he will always be remembered for his invaluable intellectual persona.



  • Padmarajan Movies

He continued to script for films 'Thakara', 'Rathinirvedam', 'Itha Ivide Vare', 'Vadekyoru Hrudayam', 'Idavela'. On 1979, Padmarajan began to direct the films based on his own script, on this pattern the first release was 'Peruvazhiambalam', which gave him the National Award for Best Feature Film. 

In the span of seven year, he won again an Best Film National Award for 'Thinkalazhcha Nalla Divasam'. On this criteria Master gem piece like 'Thoovanathumbikal' and 'Deshadanakilli Karayarilla' striking to the depth of a society. 

'Nammuku Parkan Munthiree Thopukal', 'Novemberinte Nashtam', 'Kallan Pavithran', 'Oridathoru Phayalvaan', 'Koodevide', 'Moonampakkam', 'Aparan', 'Innale', 'Njan Gandharvan' include his craft of Malayalam films.

  • Padmarajan as Mentor

Padmarajan's assistants are still making proud movies in Malayalam cinema include Thopil Ajayan, Suresh Unnithan, Blessy are few of them and  introduced many actors to the Malayalam cinema, whether it is Rehaman and Suhasini through 'Koodevide', Jayaram made his debut through 'Aparan', Nitish Bhardwaj in 'Njan Gandharvan', Ajayan through 'Moonam Pakkam'.

p padmarajan films
  • Family

Padmarajan married to his Colleague from AIR (All India Radio), Radhalakshmi in 1970. Their children are Anantha Padmanabhan and Madhavikutty. Aanatha Padmanabhan has done scripting for Malayalam films as well.



His death came as a shock for the lovers of Malayalam cinema, while on the promotion of his last film "Njan Gandharvan". It was a huge loss to the film industry of Indian Cinema.
He left us far with his lessons and memories to be kept preserved on the reel. Somewhere it felt that, if he would have been alive today, then what would be his thought for the present generation.

Padmarajan definitely gave a new definition to the Malayalam cinema with the foundation of new film making method.


Published -  25 Jan, 2016             last updated : 11 June 2020

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