Malayalam Hitmaker Screenwriter-Director Dennis Joseph Passes Away

By SM .11 May, 2021




KOTTAYAM: Legendary Malayalam scriptwriter and National Award-winning director Dennis Joseph, 63, passed away on Monday evening. He suffered a heart attack while at his house and was rushed to a hospital in his native Ettumanoor, but did not survive, confirmed director Omar Lulu, who had announced a project, Power Star, with Dennis Joseph about a year back.


Dennis Joseph is survived by his wife Leena, and children Elizabeth, Rosie, and Jose.


Before becoming a force to reckon with in the Malayalam film industry, Dennis Joseph worked as a journalist with a magazine. And it was in 1985, he made his debut as a screenwriter with Eeran Sandhya, which had Mammootty, Shobhana, Rahman, and his uncle Jose Prakash in the lead roles. And he never looked back. Dennis penned some of the biggest box office hits of Malayalam cinema, including New Delhi, through which Mammootty also emerged as a megastar. Besides Mammootty, the 1987 film had an ensemble cast, including Sumalatha, Suresh Gopi, Urvashi, B. Thiagarajan, Siddique, Vijayaraghavan, Mohan Jose, Devan, and Jagannatha Varma. It was one of the highest-grossing Malayalam films of that year. And it even inspired remakes in Telugu, Kannada, and Hindi. It was one of those box office hits that broke several collection records in 1987.


Dennis Joseph wrote some of the biggest blockbusters - the original ‘mass entertainers’ - of the 1980s and 90s, such as Rajavinte Makan and New Delhi, which have gone on to become cult classics and gave Mohanlal and Mammootty their respective superstar status. The prolific writer gripped audiences with political and mystery thrillers - working together mostly with the Thampi Kannanthanam and Joshi - to create films such as Bhoomiyile Rajakkanmar, Nirakkoottu, and Nair Saab.


Dennis Joseph is also the writer behind other critically and commercially successful films in Mammootty’s career. Nirakkoottu, Shyama, Nyayavidhi, Veendum, Thanthram were among the movies that were instrumental in establishing Mammootty’s stardom in the industry. In fact, Dennis made his directorial debut with critically acclaimed Manu Uncle, which had Mammootty in the lead role. The National Award-winning film revolved around a bunch of school kids who come to Kerala to spend their vacation. And their holiday turns into an action adventure as these kids begin a parallel investigation into a museum burglary. And the rest of the film humorously unfolds how these kids bring the culprits to justice with the help of Manu Uncle, played by Mammootty. The film also had Mohanlal in a memorable cameo as himself.


His screenplay for the 1986 box office hit Rajavinte Makan directed by Thampi Kannanthanam saw Mohanlal"s rise to stardom.


The last film he worked on as a writer was for Mohanlal’s Geethaanjali. The 2013 film was directed by Priyadarshan.


He also worked with top-line directors such as Bharathan, KG George, and TS Suresh Babu and wrote popular family dramas and youthful comic capers, like Shyama, Pranamam, Kottayam Kunjachan, No 20 Madras Mail, and Akashadoothu, among others.


Manu Uncle, a children’s film starring Mammootty and Soman, with a cameo by Mohanlal, which won both the National Film Award and the Kerala State Film Award for the Best Children"s Film in 1988 was scripted and directed by him. He also directed Adharvam, Appu, ThudarKatha, Agrajan.


Babu Antony’s upcoming film Powerstar was touted as Dennis Joseph’s comeback. The fate of the film remains unknown at the moment.