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The fear of the unknown and the excitement of knowing more about them have always been topics of interest since time immemorial. Having grown up hearing the names of ghost, witch, vampire, elf, dwarf, fairy, and whatnot, we too try to find ways to meet them. He too tried and guess what, he succeeded!
Born on 6th August 1970
Daniel was sleeping peacefully in his room until he heard some whispers coming from his cupboard. Clutching the blanket near his chest, he started hyperventilating. Thinking it to be a fragment of his wild imagination, he tried to sleep but something was not right. He could still hear whispers and knocks from his cupboard.
Getting off his bed, Daniel walked near the cupboard. Just as he was about to open the door, Hailey called him downstairs for dinner. Giving a weird look at the cupboard, he ran downstairs. “I have been calling you for the last ten minutes. What were you even doing?”, asked Hailey. “Nothing Mom. Just dozed off”, said Daniel in a bored voice.
“Guys, I have got the movie that you all have been asking for”, shouted Joseph from the drawing-room. Cuddling together in the lounge chair, they started watching the movie with rapt attention. “This Indian guy makes amazing movies, isn’t it?”, exclaimed Joseph. “Yeah. But why did you have to choose a horror movie? I already hear someone whispering from my cupboard. I can’t sleep the entire night”, said Daniel in an exasperated voice.
“Come on Danny, you’re a big brave boy and these are nothing but your suppressed fears. Let’s do a thing. Don’t you like this Indian guy’s movie?”, asked Joseph. “Yeah, I do”, replied his son. “Then let me enlighten you about this amazing director’s life. I hope you will enjoy”, said Joseph with an excited face.
Long long ago, in the small town of Pondicherry, a shrill cry broke the silence of the night. The Shyamalan family rejoiced at seeing a bubbly baby smiling in his cradle. They named him Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan. Before the little boy could smell the air of his country, his parents immigrated to the US and settled in Pennsylvania.
As Manoj grew up, he started going to school and wanted to live a life like every other student. Though he had always been a meritorious student, he was never liked by his teachers. It was perhaps because of his “un-American origin” or the fact that he wasn’t baptized which made the others think that Shyamalan would go to hell. This was perhaps his first inspiration to weave spooky tales that would intrigue the “American” audience.
Belonging to a family of doctors, Manoj’s father always wanted him to be a doctor. But little did he know that Shyamalan’s heart was already inclined towards that Super 8 camera and filmmaking from quite an early age. Interestingly, his mother too had asked him to follow his passion and listen to his heart.
By the time he reached the age of seventeen, he had already played with filmmaking skills and made forty-seven films. When he grew up to a young gentleman and sat with a camera in his hands along with an amazing ability to even make the innocent palm trees look sinister, Manoj made sure to include these “homemade movie scenes” in the majority of his movies.
When he graduated from the reputed New York University Tisch School of the Arts in Manhattan, he changed his second name from Nelliyattu to “Night”. Guess what, this very word in his name, later on, gave him the very purpose of his life. Like a mushroom that is known for its appetizing taste, tempting patterns, and poisonous bodies, Night’s movies too thrive in dark, conniving, and contained spaces.
Shyamalan’s very first film was Praying with Anger. The story behind his directorial debut was indeed an interesting one. He directed this semi-autobiographical drama when he was still a student at NYU. Not being able to secure an investor, Manoj had to borrow money from his family and friends. When he came up with his second movie named Wide Awake, his parents supported him by becoming associate producers for his film.
With every passing day, the success rate of his films kept on increasing. Manoj went on producing films like The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water, and The Happening, all of which hang on a generous suspension of disbelief. While jump scares lacing today’s films, his films were unique and he was deemed as “the guy who makes scary movies with a twist.”
“Even that favourite movie of yours where that little rat goes all bonkers riding that little car of his was written by Shyamalan”, said Joseph. “You mean Stuart Little.”, said Daniel with a puffed face. “Yes, Danny. Now, how did you like the story?”, asked his father. “It was amazing, Dad. But what is that Indian guy doing right now? Is he still making films? If he is, then you have to get me some of his movies. I’d love to watch that, but not alone.”, said Little Stuart’s ardent fan, scratching his head.
As Danny entered his room, he saw the cupboard slightly open. Not thinking much about it, he simply shut it tightly and headed to his cozy bed. Yet again, at 3 am, the cupboard creaked open and whispers filled the room. “Sleep tight, Danny. Always remember that your Mumma loves you and your real mommy would always be me”, said a sweet voice. Bidding goodbye with a final kiss on his cheeks, that woman slowly slithered back into the cupboard.
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