PopHorror would like to wish the visionary M. Night Shyamalan a happy birthday! Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan was born August 6, 1970, in Mahe, Pondicherry, India, and raised in the affluent Penn Valley area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now known as M. Night Shyamalan, his middle name, Night, was made up in college. The son of doctors, his passion for filmmaking came at a very young age after a Super 8 camera was given to him when he was eight. He began to emulate his idol, Stephen Spielberg, even at that early age.
His first film in 1992, Praying with Anger, is based loosely on a trip back to visit Shyamalan’s place of birth. He raised all funds for this movie and produced, wrote and starred in it. He wrote and directed his second film in 1998, Wide Awake, about a 10 year-old boy who searches for God after the death of his grandfather. The film starred Denis Leary, Dana Delaney and Rosie O’Donnell.
In 1999, Shyamalan gained international recognition with the film The Sixth Sense. Not only did the movie do well commercially, it was also nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
Now nearly 20 years after his first big success, M. Night Shyamalan continues to bring audiences his passion for filmmaking and his unique twists to movies. Some of his major films include Unbreakable (2000), The Village (2004), Lady in the Water (2006), The Happening (2008), The Visit (2015) and Split (2016).
Did You Know?
- He is a graduate of New York University.
- He is an avid comic book fan.
- His favorite film of all time is Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). His top favorite films after this one are The Exorcist (1973), Die Hard (1988), Psycho (1960), Nayakan (1987) and Reservoir Dogs (1992).
- Maintains his offices and screening room in a converted barn in suburban Philadelphia.
- When his theatrical films go to DVD, he puts in a scene from one of his childhood films that marks his first attempt at the same kind of movie. The Sixth Sense (1999) includes the ghost story Nightmare on Old Gulf, Unbreakable (2000) includes the action movie Millionaire, Signs (2002) includes the monster movie Pictures, and The Village includes an untitled period piece.
- His inspiration for The Sixth Sense (1999) was based on an episode from Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The Tale of the Dream Girl (1994) directed by David Winning.
- Turned down the opportunity to direct the Harry Potter franchise three times. He was first offered Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) on a recommendation from friend, Steven Spielberg (who had previously been considered to direct), but turned it down due to post-production commitments on his own film, Unbreakable (2000). After the massive success of Signs (2002), Shyamalan was once again offered Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and later Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), turning down the former to direct his own project, The Village (2004,) and the latter to work on his since aborted adaptation of the Yann Martel novel The Life of Pi.
- The silver charm worn around his neck was given to him by his father and contains Sanskrit proverbs to keep him safe.
I am a huge fan of M. Night. I always look forward to his work. I’ve enjoyed them all. It is hard to pick just one, but these are definitely at the top of my list: The Village, Signs, The Visit, Split and, of course, The Sixth Sense. He is currently working on Glass, a sequel to Unbreakable and Split. Once again, a big happy birthday to M. Night Shyamalan! You can also wish him a happy birthday wish on his official Twitter. Are you a fan of M. Night? Let us know in the comments!