Ramu Kariat was acclaimed as an innovator of Malayalam cinema of the 1950s to the 70s, Ramu Kariat is one of the protagonists of neo realism. After Neelakuyil in 1954 he shot Minnaminungu in 1957. The latter was a path-breaking film of the Malayalam art-house cinema. He could effortlessly handle both melodramas and films dealing with serious social issues. Hs filmography includes Mudiyanaya Putram (1961), Moodupadam (1963), Chemmeen (1965), Ezhu Ratrikal (1968) and others. He was also considered as a ferryman between art-house and entertainment cinema.
P. Bhaskaran, the former associate of Kariat, had made some memorable films like Rarichan Enna Pauran (1956). In 1967 he made Anveshichu Kandethiyilla with two great Malayalam actors, Sathayn and Adoor Bhasi. The same year he also made Irunite Atmavu. The film starred Prem Nazir. With the same actor he made Thurakatha Vathil in 1970.
The later period saw many more outstanding Malayalam film directors whose works enriched the Malayalam film industry. One such director was John Abraham. He was a graduate from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. He was one of the most profound and original representatives of the Malayalam art cinema. However his best known work in India was made in Tamil, Agraharathil Kazhuthai, 1977. Besides this he had also made Vidyathikale Ithile (1971), Cheriyachente Kroora Krithyangal and others. The most perfect of all his films is Amma Ariyan (1986). The film is in a form of an open letter from a son to his mother.
Sethumadhavan is another name to remember in Malayalam cinema. His Odeyil Ninnu (1965) is a social film. It features Sathyan, Prem Nazir and Adoor Bhasi. In 1969 he came up with Kadalppalam and in 1971 it was Oru Penninte Katha. In the latter he portrays both a picture of the decadence of the feudalism and the relentless pursuit of revenge by a woman abandoned by her lover. His 1980 film Oppol is a powerful illustration on Oedipus complex.
Another stalwart in the field of film direction in Malayalam is Adoor Gopalakrishnan. According to him cinema is an exercise in the exploration of creativity, of experience, of memory and of narration. His works include films like Swayamvaram, Kodiyettam, Mukhamukham, Anantaram, Vidheyan, Naalu Pennungal and many more.
B. G. Bharathan
Starting with Sethumadhavan the Malayalam films slowly tilted towards the commercial vein. B. G. Bharathan made Rathi Nirvedham in 1978. In 1982 he directed two powerful films titled Marmaarm and Ormakayi. The following year Kattathe Kilokkoodu was released. In 1989 he made Thazhvaram with one of the greatest contemporary male stars, Mohanlal, which is a fine story of love and revenge.
I. V. Sasi
I. V. Sasi is another Malayalam film director whose trendy work has contributed to the expansion motion picture industry in India and Kerala in the 1970s. Sasi is a specialist of complicated and exotic melodramas, like America America (1983). Amongst his films the notable ones are Ee Nadu (1982), Kana Marayathu (1983), Avanazhi and Vartha (1986).
Priyadarshan, a director of successful musical films since the 1980s, shooting in general with actor Mohanlal, is among others the author of Thalavattam (1986) and of Chitram (1988). This Malayalam director has directed over 25 feature films in a career span of about 10 years. His films are resolutely in a commercial vein but on themes that are rather humanistic and relatively unusual in this type of cinema and helped by a remarkable direction of the actors. Of late he has been engaged in making films in the comic genre. He is also credited with making Tamil films and Bollywood flicks. Some of his early films are Parampara, Bharatham, Kanakkinavu and others.
K. G. George
Amongst the new generation of Malayalam film directors is K. G. George. His most important film is Swapnatanam (1975), a well constructed conjugal psychodrama composed of a series of flashbacks tracing the origins of the insanity of the hero. The film met with commercial success. Next, Mannu (1978) is a feudal melodrama. His 1980 film, Kolangal, has as its theme the imaginary fault of a young, pretty and poor village girl. Two years later he directed a thriller, Yavanika. His 1983 film, Lekhayude Maranam- Oru Flashback is a powerful and sensitive film about the illusory world of cinema. His other films include Adaminte Variyellu, Panchavadippalam and Irakal.
V. K. Pavithran
Another name that cannot be missed in the list of Malayalam film directors is V. K. Pavithran. He has directed Yaro Oral, an experimental melodrama with the music by the great G. Aravindan. In 1986 with Uppu, he brought powerful evidence against the rigid legal approach to the personal code of Indian Muslims.
K. R. Mohanan
Another notable director from FTII is K. R. Mohanan, first and foremost a director of documentaries and short films. His works are Ashwathama, Prushartham and finally Swaroopam.
Lenin Rajendran is a gifted and cultivated filmmaker. He has a strong communist bent of mind. Meenasmasathile Sooryam (1985) is a political and romantic film, credible and poignant, with the great Gopi, about freedom fighter activists belonging to the Left in the 1940s at the time of the Quit India movement. His more ambitious project is Deivathinte Vikruthikal (1990).
G. Aravindan has directed 11 feature films that are remarkable and deal with the culture and heritage of India. His prominent films include Uttarayanam, Kanchanasita, Thampu, Kummatty, Esthappan and others.
The contemporary Malayalam filmmakers include Sreenivasan. He is famous for his satirical black comedies. His filmography includes films such as Nadodikkattu, Sandesham, Vellanakaludey Naadu and Varavelpu. He directed two notable Malayalam films namely Vadakku Nooki Yanthram and Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala. He has also received a number of awards in lieu of his work.
Shaji N. Karun
Another prodigy of Malayalam cinema is Shaji. He is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker. His first film was Piravi in 1988 which received an award at the Cannes International Film Festival.
Other Malayalam Film Directors
Other contemporary Malayalam film directors are Dinesh Baboo, Fazil, A. K. Lohithadas, Blessy, etc. P. A. Backer, P. N. Menon, T. Hariharan, Balachander Menon and C. P. Padmakumar are also well known art film makers of Malayalam cinema. Other noted directors include B. Unnikrishnan, Bharath Gopi, Suresh Unnithan, K. K. Rajeev, Vinay Govind, P. Ramdas, Mohan Sharma and many others.