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S. Shankar

Shankar Shanmugam (Tamil: ஷங்கர் சண்முகம்; born 17 August 1963) is an Indian film director and producer who prominently works in Tamil cinema. Initially working as an assistant director to S. A. Chandrasekhar, he was awarded the Filmfare Best Director Award for his first two films, Gentleman (1993) and Kadhalan (1994). He went on to win the award again for Anniyan (2005). He has directed 9 tamil films so far, all of which have been big hits.

His film Indian (1996) and the commercially successful Jeans (1998) were nominated by India for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Two of his productions, the self-directed Mudhalvan (1999) and Veyyil (2006), were awarded the Filmfare Best Tamil Film Award; the latter also received a National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. In 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by M. G. R. University. He is generally known for making films with record-breaking budgets in India. His work has oscillated between two themes – abolition of corruption and romance, although he broke the pattern during Sivaji.

Early life

Shankar was born on August 17, 1963 in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, India to Muthulakshmi and Shanmugam. He holds a diploma in Mechanical Engineering.


Shankar began his career as an assistant to film director and producer, S. A. Chandrasekhar. He was later appointed as an assistant director to Pavithran in his 1991 Tamil film, Vasanthakala Paravai, starring R. Sarathkumar.[1] In 1993, he decided to become an independent director and, thus, began Gentleman. Starring Arjun Sarja in the lead, the film was made with the highest budget in Tamil cinema at the time.[citation needed] The film’s music director, A. R. Rahman, continued his partnership with Shankar for his following 6 directorials. The following year, he worked with Prabhu Deva for Kadhalan. In 1995, he began his next film, Indian, with Kamal Haasan in the lead playing two roles. The film was released on May 1 1996 and was selected as the country’s submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Following the success of Indian, Shankar began to work on Jeans, a romance film which was made with the highest budget at the time. After two years of filming in India and the US, the film released in 1998, enjoying phenomenal success across India and internationally. The film was submitted by India for an Academy Award.
Shankar (second on the left) at the launch for Sivaji in 2006.

After beginning his production studio, S Pictures, Mudhalvan, was launched with Rajinikanth playing the lead. After the actor cited schedule conflicts, Shankar roped in Arjun for the project. Released in 1999, the film turned out to be successful. Initial reports of Shankar’s next film to be a science fiction film titled Robot were released, but the project could not move forward due to an immensely large budget. He instead opted to remake Mudhalvan in Hindi as Nayak.

His film Boys released in 2003 as a musical. The same year, Shankar began his next project, the psychological thriller Anniyan, featuring Vikram in three distinct characters. For the first time, Harris Jayaraj was roped in to compose music for the film. Immediately after Anniyan’s release, it was reported that Shankar had teamed up with Rajinikanth and AVM Productions for a film. Rahman also returned to continue his partnership with the director. The film, again made on a record-breaking budget, was titled Sivaji and after two years of filming, it released in 2007 with much fanfare and hype across the globe. It ultimately became the highest grossing Indian film of its time.[citation needed] Shankar also made a special appearance in the film.

Following Sivaji’s success, Shankar revisited the possibility of beginning his shelved science fiction venture. After an unsuccessful attempt to bring the project to Bollywood with Shahrukh Khan in the lead, he later decided to work with the project in Tamil with Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai. Produced by successful South Indian media proprietor Kalanithi Maran, the film was renamed as Enthiran and was made on the highest film budget in India. After initial reports indicating Shankar’s next film to be with Siddharth, it was reported that Shankar will be working as director for Nanban, the Tamil remake of the 2009 Hindi film 3 Idiots starring Vijay, Jeeva and Srikanth.

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