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Santosh Sivan Edit Profile

actor , director , producer , cinematographer

Santosh Sivan was born in Trivandrum, Kerala, India. He is an Indian cinematographer, film director, actor and producer known for his extensive work in Indian cinema.

Honored by Government of India with 13 National Awards for outstanding work in various movies.


Santosh Sivan was born into a family of artists. His grandmother used to teach him painting and music in the palace and as a kid he accompanied her to the palace. These visits gave him an opportunity to become familiar with the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, a nineteenth century Indian painter whose renowned works were themes from Hindu mythology, and everyday life of his times.

His grandmother often narrated the mythological stories of the themes of these paintings, where in the postures, colors guided the imagination. This turned out to be his very first visual education.

His father used to make documentaries and during holidays he would excitedly, volunteer to help. These trips were very interesting. He loved sketching with charcoal, and was fascinated by details that you observe when you want to sketch. During these travels to remote areas in South India, He was fortunate to listen folklore's and stories of people of the land.


Santosh Sivan, a founder member of the Indian Society of Cinematographers and the most awarded Director of Photography in this country, graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India and went on to completing 45 features and 41 documentaries.

He was awarded the National Award for best Cinematographer for the films Perumthachan, Kalapani, Mohiniyattam, Iruvar and Dil Se..

Sivan was honored by the Japanese Society of Cinematographers and has been on the Jury for the Busan Film Festival. He is a “mentor” to students for Mira Nair’s “Maisha Film Lab: in Uganda and is a director to the Sivan Foundation of photography. He was also a governing council member at the Pune Film Institute.

As a director, Santosh won his first National Award in 1988 for the film THE STORY OF TIBLU. His film HALO was honored at the 43rd National Film Awards in India for Best Children’s Film and Best Sound.

Sivan received worldwide accolades for The Terrorist, which won the Best Director, Best Actress Awards and the Golden Pyramid Award for The Best Film at the 23rd Cairo International Film Festival. It was awarded the National Award in 1999 for The Best Tamil Film and was an Official Selection at the Sundance, Seattle and Toronto Film Festivals of that year. The film was also listed in Roger Ebert’s 100 Best Films in 1999.

Following the success of The Terrorist, Sivan’s film MALLI won the National Award for Best Environmental Film in India in 2000, the National Award in India for Best Child Artist in 2000 and was honored at the 18th International Festival of Film for Children in Poznan, Poland where it won the Poznan Goat for Best Director, Best Child Actress & Best Music and the Best Film-Audience Award at the Indian Film Festival|Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles in Los Angeles.

Sivan’s subsequent films include ASOKA, which screened at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals in 2001 and Navarasa, which won the National Award for Best Tamil Film and the Monaco Award for Best Film & Best Supporting Actor awarded at the Lyons Film Festival. The latter also participated in the Pusan and Rotterdam Film Festivals. His debut Malayalam Language film, Anandabhadram in 2005, went on to win several State Awards, including Best Director & Best Cinematographer. Sivan has worked as the Cinematographer in Gurinder Chadha’s Bride & Prejudice and Paul Mayeda Berges’ The Mistress of Spices.

Santosh Sivan directed Before the Rains which is premiered as a Special Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007. In addition, his short film PRARAMBHA, which was created for the Bill and Melinda Gates AIDS Foundation, also premiered at the Mavericks section of the Festival. It won the National Awards 2007 for Best Producer and Best Director in the Educational and Motivational Film category.

His film, TAHAAN, won a High Commendation in Children's Feature Film section at the 2009 Asia Pacific Screen Awards and UNICEF Award at 11th Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People in 2008 held at Greece. Tahaan won "The German Star of India award" at "Bollywood and Beyond" festival at Stuttgart Germany in 2009.

His latest Malayalam film, Urumi is to be screened at the Indian Panorama of the International Film Festival of India to be held in Goa 2012 and has already been to Busan and NHK film festivals. He was also the cinematographer for the tamil movie Thuppakki, starring Vijay & directed by AR Murugadoss.


  • He is a founding member of the Indian Society of Cinematographers and is the most awarded Director of Photography in India. Santosh Sivan became the first Cinematographer in Asia Pacific to be honored with American Society of Cinematographers membership. He has been awarded the National Film Awards for Best Cinematography four times, for the films Perumthachan, Kaalapani, Iruvar, and Dil Se..


  • Film

    • Urumi

    • Tahaan

    • Before the Rains

    • Anandabhadram

    • Navarasa

    • Asoka

    • The Terrorist

    • Malli

    • Halo

    • Story of Tiblu

    • Nidhiyude Katha

    • Raakh

    • Doctor Pasupathy

    • Midhya

    • Indrajaalam

    • Thalapathi

    • Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani

    • Pukar

    • No.20 Madras Mail

    • Perumthachan

    • Roja

    • Aham

    • Yodha

    • Gandharvam

    • Pavithram

    • Nirnayam

    • Barsaat

    • Kaalapani

    • Iruvar

    • Darmiyaan: In Between

    • Dil Se..

    • Vanaprastham

    • Fiza

    • Aparichithan

    • Bride and Prejudice

    • Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities

    • Raavan

    • Raavanan

    • Thuppakki

    • Rangrezz

    • Indian rupee

    • Arival Chuttika Nakshathram

  • Short Film

    • Prarambha