Shankar Shanmugham

  • Director, Writer, Screenplay

Aug 17, 1963  in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, India

Also Known as: S. Shankar, Shankar

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A noted cinema personality known for directing high budget films, S. Shankar is one of the sought after directors in Tamil cinema. He made his directorial debut in the industry with the 1993 film Gentleman, and then went on to direct several blockbuster hits like Jeans (1998), Nayak (2001), Anniyan (2005), Sivaji: The Boss (2007), Enthiran: The Robot (2010), Nanban (2012) and I (2015), being his most prominent ones. This award-winning director was bestowed with the Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan Award for Excellence in Indian Cinema at Vijay Awards.

Early life
Shankar was born in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu in 1963 to Muthulakshmi and Shanmugam. He pursued Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from Central Polytechnic College. Before entering into the film industry he worked as a quality control supervisor. He ventured into the movie industry by working as a scriptwriter to director S. A. Chandrasekhar. Even though he was passionate about being an actor, he found success as a director.

Personal life
Shankar got married to Easwari and has two daughters and a son.

Movie career
As a director / writer
Shankar started his cinema career in 1993 with the Tamil film Gentleman that starred Arjun and Madhoo in the lead roles. He gained success in his very first movie as Gentleman received positive reviews and turned out to be a blockbuster. Not only this, he won the Filmfare Awards South for Best Director and Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Director for the movie. It was remade in Hindi as The Gentleman in 1994, under the direction of Mahesh Bhatt, with Shankar credited as the story writer for the remake. Shankar`s next film was the romantic comedy thriller Kadhalan that had Prabhu Deva and Nagma play the lead, whereas Raghuvaran and Vadivelu were seen in other significant roles. The director bagged the Filmfare Awards South in the Best Director category for the film. Most songs in the movie gained huge popularity like "Ennavale Adi Ennavale", "Mukkabla", "Urvasi Urvasi", and "Pettai Rap", adding to its success. The director then ventured into a crime thriller film Indian (1996), which starred Kamal Haasan in a dual role, whereas Manisha Koirala and Urmila Matondkar played pivotal roles. The movie revolves around a man who stands up against corruption without any clue of his son`s involvement in the corrupt practices.

Shankar`s next venture was the romantic comedy Jeans, the most expensive Indian movie to be made at that time. It starred Prashanth, Aishwarya Rai and Nassar in the lead roles. Jeans was one of Shankar`s two movies, the other one being Indian, to be submitted at the Best Foreign Language Film. Another movie that received positive critical acclaim was Mudhalvan (1999), about a TV journalist challenged to become the CM for a day and becomes permanent due to his exemplary work, causing jealousy in the current CM who takes revenge for this. Starring Arjun, Manisha Koirala and Raghuvaran in the lead roles, Mudhalvan emerged to be one of the top grossing Tamil films of the year. After the success of Mudhalvan, Shankar directed its Hindi remake Nayak (2001), starring Anil Kapoor, Rani Mukerji, and Amrish Puri, but it turned out to be a box-office failure. Shankar then went on to direct the coming-of-age film Boys about the ups and downs of teenage life, starring Siddarth, Genelia, Bharath, Nakul, Manikandan and Sai Srinivas Thaman, as the leads. Despite opening to mixed reviews and having debutants as part of the lead cast, it went on to become a hit.

Shankar went on to direct an experimental film, the psychological thriller Anniyan, the story of a man with multiple personality disorder, played by Vikram. His next venture was the Tamil masala film Sivaji (2007), starring Rajinikanth and Shriya Saran in the lead roles. The movie revolves around Sivaji who decides to make arrangements for free medical treatment and education to the society but faces hurdles due to corruption, and stands up against the system. The movie received positive critical reviews and also gained huge commercial success globally. Shankar won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Feature Film and was nominated at the Filmfare Awards South for Best Director. After the huge success of Sivaji, the director once again joined hands with Rajinikanth for the science fiction film Enthiran with Aishwarya Rai as the female lead. This movie too, was a blockbuster. Critics especially praised the cinematography, art direction and visual effects in the film. Shankar won the Vijay Award for Favourite Director for Enthiran. He then went on to remake Rajkumar Hirani`s 3 Idiots (2009) in Tamil as Nanban with Vijay, Jiiva, Srikanth, Ileana D`Cruz, Sathyan and Sathyaraj in the lead roles. This movie was an average grosser and received good critical acclaim. The direction once again cast Vikram in his romantic thriller film I opposite Amy Jackson. The concept of the film, Vikram`s performance and technical aspects were highly appreciated by critics, and also got Shankar nominated at the Filmfare Awards South in the category of Best Director. His 2018 release includes the science fiction movie 2.0, sequel to the 2010 film Enthiran. Rajinikanth reprises his roles of Dr. Vaseegaran and Chitti in the sequel, along with Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson as part of the lead cast.

Shankar is the writer for all the movies he has directed.

As a producer Shankar is also a successful producer who has been associated with several movies like Mudhalvan, Kaadhal, Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi, Veyil, Arai Enn 305-il Kadavul, Eeram, Rettaisuzhi and Anandhapurathu Veedu.

As an actor
Shankar started off as an actor before venturing into direction. He made his first on-screen appearance in the Tamil film Vasantha Raagam in 1986 as a printing press worker. He then went on to act in another film in the year titled Poovum Puyalum. He has made special appearances in various songs like `Kadhalikum Pennin` from Kadhalan, `Balleilakka` from Sivaji: The Boss and `Asku Laska` from Nanban. He also had a special appearance in Enthiran (2010) as a soldier.

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