Mankada Ravi Varma

Mankada Ravi Varma

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Category: Cinema

Mankada Ravi Varma Profile

  • Name:
  • Mankada Ravi Varma
  • Born:
  • June 4, 1926
  • Died:
  • November 22, 2010
  • Father:
  • A.m. Parameswaran Bhattathiripad
  • Mother:
  • K.k. Thampuratti

Mankada Ravi Varma Biography

Mankada Ravi Varma was a famous cinematographer of Malayalam movies, known for the association with great directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, G. Aravindan and P. N. Menon. He was also known as a film director and in a career spanning to about 4 decades, he received two National Film Awards and seven Kerala State Film Awards in various categories.


His real name is Ravi Varma and he is prefixed with his native place, Mankada in Malappuram district. He belonged to a royal family of Malappuram. Since childhood he got attached to the magic of photography and its shades. So, after his graduation from Victoria College, Palakkad, he joined Institute of Film Technology in Chennai where he specialized in learning motion picture photography. After the course, he worked as a cinematographer for short films and documentaries before making his film debut in the late 1960’s. Aval (1966) was his debut movie. However he gained popularity with early 1970’s. Olavum Theeravum (1970) with Madhu in the lead role was his first major break. It was the first Malayalam movie to be fully shot outdoor and this movie presented him his first state award as well. It was followed by the notable works of Dikkatra Parvathi (1973) and Uttarayanam (1974).


When the legendary film director of Malayalam Adoor Gopalakrishnan made his first movie, Swayamvaram in 1972, Mankada Ravi was hired as its cinematographer. Thus began a new generation of Malayalam movies with Adoor Gopalakrishnan-Ravi Varma combination. This movie marked a revolutionary change in Malayalam movie making as well. He bagged his first National award for best cinematographer for this movie. Their magical combination has given some milestone movies like Kodiyettam (1977), Elippathayam (1981), Mukhamukham (1984), Mathilukal (1990), Vidheyan (1993) and Nizhalkuthu (2002). Till he fell ill in 2002, they had a long association of more than 30 years together. Nizhalkuthu was their last film which was completed by Sunny Joseph. In this director’s opinion, Nizhalkuthu is the best work of this cinematographer.


He directed two movies - Nokkukuthi (1984) and Kunjikoonan (1989). Nokkukuthi earned National Film Award – Special Jury Award / Special Mention (Feature Film). He received Kerala State Film Award for Best Photography/Cinematography for the movies, Olavum Theeravum, Swayamvaram, Uttarayanam, Nokkukuthi, Mukhamukham and Nizhalkoothu. During his last years, he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.      

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Updated: April 16, 2014


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