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M. Night Shyamalan

Birthday
06 Aug 1970 (Age 46)
Biography
Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan (pronounced [ˈʃaməˌlan]; Malayalam: മനോജ് നെല്ലിയട്ടു ശ്യാമള), known professionally as M. Night Shyamalan, is a two-time Academy Award nominated Indian-born American filmmaker and script writer of major studio films, known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots that usually climax with a twist ending. He is also known for filming his movies (and staging his plots) in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was raised. Shyamalan released his first film, Praying with Anger, in 1992 while he was a New York University student. His second movie, the major feature film Wide Awake, made in 1995 but not released until three years later, failed to find financial success. Shyamalan gained international recognition when he wrote and directed 1999's The Sixth Sense, which was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. He followed The Sixth Sense by writing and directing Unbreakable, released in 2000, which received mixed reviews. His 2002 film Signs, where he also played Ray Reddy, gained both critical and financial success, but The Village (2004) was a critical disappointment whose box office fell hard after a strong opening weekend, and Lady in the Water (2006) performed even worse. His latest film, The Happening (2008), did financially better than his previous effort but was also panned by critics; in its entire American run, it grossed only slightly more than Signs made its opening weekend.

Early life and career
Shyamalan was born in Mahe, Pondicherry, India. His father, Nelliyattu C. Shyamalan, a physician, is a Malayali Indian, and his mother, Jayalakshmi, is a Tamil Indian and an obstetrician and gynecologist by profession. In the 1960s, after medical school (at the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research in Pondicherry) and the birth of their first child, Veena, Shyamalan's parents moved to the United States. Shyamalan’s mother returned to India to spend the last five months of her pregnancy with Shyamalan at her parents’ home in Chennai (Madras).

Shyamalan spent his first six weeks in Pondicherry and then was raised in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, an affluent suburb of Philadelphia. He attended the private Roman Catholic grammar school Waldron Mercy Academy, which his parents chose for its academic discipline, followed by the Episcopal Academy, a private Episcopalian high school located at the time in Merion, Pennsylvania. Shyamalan went on to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, in Manhattan, graduating in 1992. It was here that he made up his middle name.

Shyamalan had an early desire to be a filmmaker when he was given a Super-8 camera at a young age. Though his father wanted Shyamalan to follow in the family practice of medicine, his mother encouraged Shyamalan to follow his passion. By the time he was 17, Shyamalan, who had been a fan of Steven Spielberg, had made 45 home movies. Beginning with The Sixth Sense, he has included a scene from one of these childhood films on each DVD release of his films, which he feels represents his first attempt at the same kind of film (with the exception of Lady in the Water).

Shyamalan made his first film, the semiautobiographical drama Praying with Anger, while still an NYU student, using money borrowed from family and friends. It was screened at the Toronto Film Festival on September 12, 1992, and played commercially at one theater for one week. 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 Rosie O'Donnell, 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 wrote the screenplay for Stuart Little.

Shyamalan was a winner of Padma Shri Award in 2008.

In 1993, Shyamalan married Indian psychologist Bhavna Vaswani, a fellow student whom he met at NYU and with whom he has two daughters. As of early-2008, the family resides in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, near Shyamalan's usual shooting site of Philadelphia. His production company, Blinding Edge Pictures is located in Berwyn, PA.
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