A maverick filmmaker, Manoj Night Shyamalan, better known by his screen name M. Night Shyamalan is an acclaimed director, producer and writer who is noted for making films that have supernatural plot and twisted endings. The director-cum-actor garnered most praises for films like The Sixth Sense
(2000), the sci-fi thriller Signs (2002), The Visit
(2015) and the psychological horror Split
(2016). The award-winning director owns a production company named, Blinding Edge Pictures under which he has produced most of his films. For his outstanding contribution to cinema, the government of India honored Shyamalan with the coveted Padma Shri Award in 2008.
Born in a small-town named Mahe in Pudducherry, Tamil Nadu, Shyamalan is the son of Nelliate C. Shyamalan and Jayalakshmi who works as a Gynecologist and Obstetrician. The director-cum-producer within the first weeks of his birth moved to Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, an affluent suburb Philadelphia. Shyamalan went to different schools, he first enrolled at the Roman Catholic Grammar School and later went to Episcopal Academy, a private Episcopal high school in Merion, Pennsylvania. After completing her school, he earned the New York University Merit Scholarship in 1988 and earned his graduation degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1992. It was here while studying at the University that he adopted Night as his second name.
Shyamalan always had a penchant for films and he aspired to be a filmmaker right from his school when he got Super 8 camera as a gift from his father. Although, his father wanted him to continue the family lineage and practice medicine, his mother supported him to pursue his own passion. A diehard Steven Spielberg fan, Shyamalan takes inspiration from his films and draws reference of the scenes in his own films.
M. Night Shyamalan married his college sweetheart Bhavana Vaswani whom he had met while studying at the New York University. The couple has three daughters.
As a Director
M. Night Shyamalan made his debut as a film director with Praying with Anger, an Indian-American drama, which released in September 1992. The film, which also marked his acting debut in a film never received a worldwide theatrical debut but was shown primarily at the film festivals around the world where it garnered wide critical acclaim. Following his debut film, the director took a six year break before eventually making his comeback with Wide Awake in 1998. The comedy-drama featuring Denis Leary
, Dana Delany, Robert Loggia
, Joseph Cross
and Timothy Reifsnyder and Rossie O’Donnell got mixed critical reviews but it did fairly well at the box office.
It was in 1999 that the director earned worldwide recognition as he directed the critically acclaimed supernatural horror-thriller film The Sixth Sense
. The film starring Bruce Willis
, Toni Collette
, Olivia Williams
and Haley Joel Osment
established him as the director who makes films with twisted endings. The film went on to become the second-highest grossing film that year behind Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and won six nominations for Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor.
By the dawn of the new millennium, the director had already established himself as an accomplished director and he proved his mettle with yet another hit titled Unbreakable in 2000. The superhero thriller film, which is considered by many as Shyamalan’s best films over the years gained a cult following and it was also included in Time’s top ten superhero movies of all time in 2011. Over the next few years, the director made films like Signs (2002), The Village
(2004), Lady in the Water (2006) and The Happening
(2008) most of which won critical praises and were a commercial success.
In his only directorial venture in 2010, the director cast Noah Ringer
, Nicola Peltz
, Dev Patel
, Jackson Rathbone
and Shaun Toub
in his American action fantasy film, The Last Airbender,
which was based on the animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender showcased on Nickelodeon. Although, the film received mixed critical reviews, it emerged to be a massive commercial hit; it grossed more than 319 million USD worldwide. His next directorial venture, After Earth (2013), an American science fiction film featured the real life father-son duo of Will smith and Jaden Smith. The film received mostly negative reviews and whilst it earned 27.5 million USD in the opening weekend, its collection declined in the subsequent weeks.
After the failure of The Visit, M. Shyamalan made the footage horror film The Visit
(2015) featuring Olivia DeJonge
, Ed Oxenbould
, Deanna Dunagan
, Peter McRobbie
and Kathryn Hahn
in the lead roles. Although, the critics cited inconsistencies in the plot, it emerged to be a box office hit. His 2016 release includes the American psychological thriller Split
, which follows the life of a man with 23 different personalities. The film starring James McAvoy
, Anya Taylor-Joy
and Betty Buckley
garnered wide positive reviews and was a massive hit commercially. The film, which initially released in the USA released in February 2017 in India.
As a Writer
M. Night Shyamalan has written the story of all the movies that he has directed except Stuart Little
(1999) where he wrote only the screenplay and was directed by Rob Minkoff
As a Producer
Except Wide Awake (1998) and The Sixth Sense
(1999), M. Night Shyamalan has produced all his directorial ventures.
As an Actor
M. Night Shyamalan who has worked mostly in his own production/directorial ventures made his acting debut on the silver screen with Praying with Anger (1992) where he played the lead role alongside Mike Mutthu, Richa Ahuja and Sushma Ahuja. Whilst the film won Shyamalan for his direction, his acting did not garner any attention. His next played a small role as Dr. Hill in the critically acclaimed. His other popular films as an actor includes Lady in the Water (2006), The Last Airbender
(2010), and Split
A prominent figure in the film industry, M. Knight Shyamalan is also quite popular in the TV industry. He made his debut in the TV as an actor as he played the role of himself in the American comedy-drama series, Entourage, which was aired on HBO. Besides acting, Shyamalan has also directed and produced the popular mystery sci-fi TV series Wayward Pines.