Manoj Shyamalan is an Indian-American screenwriter, film director, and producer known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots.Most of Shyamalan's commercially successful films were co-produced by Walt Disney Studios' Touchstone and Hollywood film imprints.In 2008, Shyamalan was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India.
Shyamalan was born in a Hindu household in Mahé, Puducherry, India. His father, Nelliate C. Shyamalan is a Malayali traditional physician from Mahé. His mother, Jayalakshmi is Tamil and is an obstetrician and gynecologist by profession. In the 1960s, after medical school and the birth of their first child, Veena, his parents moved to the United States. His mother returned to India to spend the last five months of her pregnancy at her parents’ home in Chennai.
At 17, Shyamalan received academic scholarships to several prestigious medical programs. Instead of accepting the scholarships, he attended New York University's Tisch School to pursue his love of filmmaking.
During his final year at NYU, Shyamamlan wrote his first feature film, Praying with Anger. The story was based somewhat on his own trip to visit India, the land of his birth. This critical success was achieved as Shyamalan raised all the necessary funds in his next project, Wide Awake (1997), in which he acted, directed, produced. The film starred Rosie O'Donnell, Denis Leary, Dana Delaney and Robert Loggia, and told the story of the close relationship between a boy in a Catholic school and his grandfather.
The final year of the millennium was good to Shyamalan. In 1999, his screenplay Stuart Little was released onto the big screen. This story of a mouse who is adopted by a wealthy human family was a hit, raking in millions at the theaters. He also completed the box office blockbuster, The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, about a boy who can see the dead. The movie landed him his first Oscar nominations: one for Best Director and the other for Best Screenplay.
His film Signs (2002) starring Mel Gibson was a box office hit, grossing $228 million at the domestic box office. Though The Village didn't do quite as well (it grossed over $114 million), it was a finely crafted suspense film in the same vein as The Sixth Sense. For his work on the film, he received an Empire Award Best Director nomination. Lady in the Water was not as well received and did not turn a profit. His next film, The Happening, was largely unnoticed except by the Razzie awards, which nominated it for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay and Worst Actor (Mark Wahlberg).
Shyamalan decided to go a slightly different route for his next film—though he wrote the screenplay for The Last Airbender, it was based on a hit TV series.