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Also known as: Mishkin, Shanmugha Raja, Myshkin
Director • Producer • Screenplay • Writer • Actor • Lyricist
Born: September 20, 1971 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Shanmugha Raja, popularly known as Mysskin, is an Indian filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, actor and playback singer who works predominantly in the Tamil film industry. He made his directorial debut with the 2006 romantic thriller Chithiram Pesuthadi, and has since directed a handful of critically and commercially successful films, primarily in the thriller genre. Some of Mysskin`s best-known works include films like Anjathe (2008), Yuddham Sei (2011), Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum (2013) and Pisasu (2014). He is also an accomplished actor, and was nominated for a Vijay Award for Best Debut Actor for his performance in the independent drama film Nandalala (2010). The writer-director turned actor has also enjoyed considerable popularity as a playback singer, and has lent his voice to songs in five of his films so far. In 2008, Mysskin was nominated for the Filmfare Award (South) for Best Director for his critically acclaimed crime thriller film Anjathe.

Early Life & Personal Life
Mysskin was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in 1971 and did his schooling in the suburb of Gopalapuram. Prior to joining director Kathir as an assistant, he used to work at a Landmark Books outlet in Chennai. Subsequently, Mysskin assisted director Vincent Selva in films like Youth (2002) and Jithan (2005) before making his independent directorial debut in 2006.

Movie Career
Mysskin made his directorial debut with the romantic thriller drama film Chithiram Pesuthadi (2006), which had Narain and Bhavana in the lead roles. Despite the relatively inexperienced cast and crew and the low-key pre-release promotions, the film turned out to be a blockbuster and was well-received by the critics. Chithiram Pesuthadi was later remade into Telugu as Raju Bhai (2007) and Kannada as Kiccha Huccha (2010). In 2008, Mysskin reunited with Narain for the crime thriller Anjathe, the plot of which revolved around two friends who find themselves at cross purposes after ending up on either side of the law. The film opened to rave reviews and was a commercial success, and is often credited as one of the best and earliest examples of Tamil New Wave Cinema. Anjathe also earned several nominations at the Filmfare Awards (South) and the Vijay Awards that year, with Mysskin getting nominated for the Best Director Award at both these events.

The director made his acting debut with the drama film Nandalala (2010), which told the story of a mentally challenged man and an 8-year old boy who embark on a journey to find their respective mothers. The film, which was also wrote and directed by Mysskin, was stuck in production hell for a long time, but eventually secured a release in 2010. Nandalala opened to positive reviews, though some critics accused Mysskin of plagiarising the 1999 Japanese film Kikujiro, which had a similar storyline. For his portrayal of Bhaskar Mani, Mysskin was nominated for a Vijay Award for Best Debutant that year. The writer-director`s next venture was the neo-noir crime thriller Yuddham Sei (2011), which had Cheran in the lead role. The film opened to universal critical acclaim and was a box office hit, and has since attained cult classic status among Tamil cinema lovers.

Mysskin`s next project was the martial arts superhero film Mugamoodi (2012), which had Jiiva in the lead role. Touted as the first superhero film in Tamil, Mugamooodi released in mid-2012 amidst much anticipation, but proved to be a disappointment critically and commercially. This was followed by the neo-noir crime thriller Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum (2013), which also marked his debut as a producer and second outing as an actor. The film was well-received in all quarters and declared a box office hit, subsequently featuring in several annual Top Ten lists that year.

In 2014, Mysskin forayed into the horror genre with the gothic horror film Pisasu, the plot of which centred around a violinist who finds himself haunted by a supernatural spirit after being involved in an accident. Made at a shoestring budget, Pisasu was a major box office success, and turned out to be one of the most profitable films of the year. The reviews were also overwhelmingly positive, and Prayaga Martin landed a SIIMA nomination for Best Debutant for her performance in the film.

In 2017, Mysskin wrote and directed Thupparivaalan, a crime thriller which was inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle`s iconic character Sherlock Holmes and featured Vishal and Prasanna in central roles. In 2018, he wrote and starred in the black comedy drama Savarakathi, which also co-starred filmmaker Ram. The psychological thriller Psycho (2019) is the ace filmmaker`s latest directorial venture, while the ensemble thriller Super Deluxe featured him both as an actor and screenwriter.
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Did You Know? (5)

  • The writer-director’s real name is Shanmugha Raja, and the assumed name Mysskin was inspired by the protagonist of Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot.
  • Robert Bresson and Akira Kurosawa are two auteurs whom Mysskin admires the most.
  • Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon was the first film Mysskin watched in a movie hall.
  • Before his sensational directorial debut, Mysskin used to work as a salesman - a job he kept for almost 8 years!
  • Mysskin is also an accomplished playback singer: Kannadhasan Karaikudi from Anjathe and the Bar Anthem from Mugamoodi are some of his most popular hits.
  • Personal Quotes (5)

  • " “My films are not formulaic and I’m only trying to do something different with utmost sincerity. In this process, even my flaws enrich my life.""
  • "“Each film is a plunge into the unknown; it is a lot of learning on the go.” "
  • "“People ask me why I make only dark movies. I like to make psychological films as I read a lot of psychological literature. While writing, I try to travel into a character’s psyche — understand the motivations of the character.” "
  • "“I’ve realised that filmmaking is second nature to me. It’s the process of wrestling with an idea, writing it down. With thought and hard work, you breathe life into it and bring the characters alive on screen. At that point, I feel like a demigod — such is the ecstasy.”"
  • "“My movies don’t cross the 40 per cent mark when I analyse them. I’m no Kurosawa or Bresson to make films like A Man Escaped, Seven Samurai or Red Beard.” "
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