Manoj Shyamalan (born 6 August 1970), known professionally as M. Night Shyamalan, is an American screenwriter, film director, and producer known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots. He is also known for filming his movies (and staging his plots) in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was raised.
Most of Shyamalan’s commercially successful films were co-produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures film division.
In 2008, Shyamalan was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India.
Shyamalan made his first film, the semi-autobiographical drama Praying with Anger, while still a student at NYU, using money borrowed from family and friends. It was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 1992, and played commercially at one theater for a week in rural Woodstock, Illinois. When the film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival, Shyamalan was introduced by David Overbey who predicted that the world would see more of Shyamalan in the years to come. Praying with Anger has also been shown on Canadian television. Filmed in Chennai, it is his only film to be shot outside of Pennsylvania.
Shyamalan wrote and directed his second movie, Wide Awake, in 1995, though it was not released until 1998. His parents were the film’s associate producers. The drama dealt with a ten-year-old Catholic schoolboy (Joseph Cross) who, after the death of his grandfather (Robert Loggia), searches for God. The film’s supporting cast included Dana Delany and Denis Leary as the boy’s parents, as well as Julia Stiles, and Camryn Manheim. Wide Awake was filmed in a school Shyamalan attended as a child and earned 1999 Young Artist Award nominations for Best Drama, and, for Cross, Best Performance. Only in limited release, the film grossed $305,704 in theaters.
That same year Shyamalan co-wrote the screenplay for Stuart Little with Greg Brooker.
Shyamalan gained international recognition when he wrote and directed 1999’s The Sixth Sense, which was a commercial success and later nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. He followed The Sixth Sense by writing and directing Unbreakable, released in 2000, which received positive reviews. His 2002 film Signs, where he also played Ray Reddy, gained both critical and financial success. His next movie The Village (2004) received mixed reviews from the critics, but turned out to be a financial success. His later fantasy film Lady in the Water (2006) performed worse critically and financially. The film The Happening (2008) was a financial success but also received negative reviews. In 2010, he directed The Last Airbender, based on the Nickelodeon TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Last Airbender (2010) received extremely negative reviews in the United States and won 5 Razzie Awards, but has gone on to make nearly $320 million internationally at the box office. He wrote the story for and produced his latest film, Devil (2010), but did not direct it. The film was not previewed by critics before its release, eventually receiving mixed reviews. Devil was not a blockbuster hit, but has become a commercial success relative to its budget.
Although Shyamalan has stated he is in the middle of directing his next thriller, it has been confirmed that his next film will be a sci-fi epic titled After Earth, to star Jaden Smith. When asked about it in an interview, Shyamalan denied the idea of shooting it in 3D but stated he was planning something technically special.
First Published: May 6, 2012 – Last Updated: Jan 27, 2013