Sanal Kumar Sasidharan is an Indian poet, lawyer and filmmaker. He is known for directing the film ‘Sexy Durga’ in 2017 which received international recognition.
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan was born on Friday, 8 April 1977 (age 45 years; as of 2022) in Perumkadavila village, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. His zodiac sign is Aries. He attended three schools, Perumkadavila Lpbs, Thiruvananthapuram, Govt Hss Marayamuttom High School, Thiruvananthapuram and Christian College, Kattakada. He pursued a Bachelor of Science in Zoology at VTMNSS Dhanuvachapuram, Kerala and a Bachelor of Laws at Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Sanal’s father’s name is Sasidharan, and his mother’s name is Sarojam. He has one sister.
Wife & Children
Sanal got married to Sreeja Suseela, who is an advocate. They have two sons. The name of one of her sons is Kailasapathi Sanal.
He considers himself an atheist.
He resides at Melathil, MRA-35, Plancherry Lane, Punnapuram, Vallakadavu, Thiruvananthapuram-695008.
Sanal made his debut in films as an art assistant in the Malayalam film Mankolangal in 2000. He directed other short films including Parole (2008), Frog (2012), Ozhivudivasathe Kali (2015), Chola (2019), and Vazhakku (2021).
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan attracted controversy on 6 May 2022 when actress Manju Warrier filed an FIR against him for blackmailing her and defaming her reputation through social media. After her complaint, Sanal was arrested by the police from Parassala in Thiruvananthapuram. When police were arresting him, he went live on Facebook and told his fans that the police were trying to kidnap and kill him.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- He won the Hivos Tiger Award at International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2017.
- He won the Golden Apricot Award at Yerevan International Film Festival in 2017.
- In 2017, he won the award for the Best International Feature at Guanajuato International Film Festival, Mexico.
- He won the Disruptor Award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne in 2021.
- He won the Jury Mention For Direction at Valencia International Film Festival Cinema Jove in 2017.
- He won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Film at the 2015 Kerala State Film Awards.
- He won the Best Director award at the 2014 Kerala State Film Awards.
- He won the Special Jury award in the John Abraham Awards 2014.
- He won the Special Jury mention in the Aravindan Puraskaram 2014.
- He won the Mohan Raghavan award for Best director in 2014.
- In 2021, he received the IFFM Disruptor Award at the Indian Film Fest of Melbourne.
- Sanal follows a non-vegetarian diet.
- His hobbies include travelling and photography.
- He followed Hinduism when he was a child. He used to recite all the verses from the Sunderkanda of the Ramayana.
- He took admission in Zoology because his father wanted him to become a doctor. After completing his graduation, he told his father about his interest in filmmaking, but his father denied and that is why he took admission to law.
- While studying in law college, he was linked to politics. He was the unit secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student organization associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party. In the last year of his graduation, he left the party and started criticizing the Bharatiya Janata Party.
- In 2001, he formed a film society, Kazhcha Chalachithra Vedi, for crowdfunding. He has directed three short films and one feature film through crowdfunding.
- In an interview, he talked about the time when he started his career as a filmmaker. He said,
I had no idea how to make a film and how to find a producer. I was keenly watching these kinds of film society movements, the Odessa film movement. I read books about John Abraham, about his parallel way of filmmaking and his philosophy of the “people’s cinema.” But I wasn’t following all this practically. Then I tried to make a film on my own and approached a lot of people, but no one was willing to produce it.”
- In 2017, his film Sexy Durga became the first Indian film to win the Hivos Tiger Award at International Film Festival Rotterdam.
- In an interview, he said that he writes fifteen to twenty pages of script for his actors. He further added,
A location gives a lot of inputs. My scripts are usually just 10-15 pages. Ahr Kayattam’s script itself isn’t more than 25 pages. So, there is a lot of space for the location and artistes to contribute. It’s basically because I am someone who likes to view cinema in a spiritual plane. That’s something that I have understood from experience. I have always felt that cinema gives you more energy than you put in. My style is to observe and record that.”
- In 2016, he made a tweet about badminton player P.V Sindhu after she won her second silver medal at Olympics 2016. His tweet was The tweet that he made in Malayalam was condemned by many people. He wrote, ‘Everyone is celebrating Sindhu’s achievement now. What if I spit on this? What is there to celebrate much about it?’
- In 2017, the name of his film Sexy Durga was changed to S Durga by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The organization claimed that the name of the film was inappropriate. Sanal filed a writ petition before the Kerala high court against the organization. In an interview, he talked about this and said,
This is how right-wing politics works. They need not even watch a work of art to put a ban on it. Prejudice is a part of their politics. It is the same kind of judgment they always have against the other. You could be thrashed or killed simply for growing a beard, no matter who you are or what you do. They would not even bother asking before attacking you. This is quintessential fascism, isn’t it?”
- In an interview, he revealed that the film ‘Kayyattam’ (2020), was shot on an iPhone in the Himalayas.
- In 2019, he removed his film, ‘Chola’ from the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) because he thought that the event was biased. In an interview, he talked about the removal of his film and said,
Chola has been invited to the Kaleidoscope section in the 24th IFFK. I am much humbled by the invitation but I have sent a mail stating that I am withdrawing the film from the festival, protesting against its overtly biased and unprofessional way of selection process in the Malayalam Cinema Today section. I believe that, it would be huge irresponsibility from my part to participate in the festival which is openly biased and outdated in its selection process.”
- He is often featured in various newspapers.
- He is often spotted enjoying alcoholic beverages on various occasions.
- He is an avid dog lover and often posts pictures of them on social media.