Screenwriter T Damodaran, also known respectfully as Damodaran Master, is known for scripting some of Malayalam cinema’s biggest hits such as Angadi (1980), Thushaaram (1981), Thadakam (1982), Ee Nadu (1982), Innalenkil Naale (1982), Iniyenkilum (1983), Angadikappurathu (1985), Vartha (1986), Avanazhi (1986), Inspector Balram (1991), Abhimanyu (1991), Advaitham (1991), and Kala Pani (1996). He was known for penning socio-political dramas comprising serious politics and trade unionism; themes with which he brilliantly weaved family relations and emotions. He scripted approximately 80 films in a career spanning nearly four decades.
Born in 1935 in Calicut, he started off as a Physical Education teacher at Government High School, Beypore. Becoming active in theatre by the late 60s, he became familiar with many theatre and cinema artists of the period such as Thikkodiyan, Kuthiravattom Pappu, Hariharan, and Kunjandi. Part of the Slapstick Comedy Troupe, in which Kuthiravattom Pappu was a leading actor, Damodaran wrote and acted in several comedies and satires. His dramas tackled various social issues of the time. One of his famous plays was Vazhiyambalam.
Damodaran went on to make his debut in films as a screenwriter, becoming increasingly active by the end of the decade. It was director Hariharan who inspired Damodaran to write for the screen after seeing his powerful plays dealing with social issues. Hariharan had worked with Damodaran in landmark plays such as Yugasandhya and Udanja Vigrahangal. His first screenplay was for the film Love Marriage (1975) directed by Hariharan.
His reputation received a huge boost with Angadi in 1980. An I V Sasi directorial, Angadi broke several records at the box office. The film revolved around Babu, a labourer who works for the welfare of the people and fights against injustice in the society, and the challenges he faces when he encounters an evil businessman. It emerged as the highest-grossing Malayalam movie of all time. There was no looking back for Damodaran, as a slew of hits scripted by him followed, such as Meen (1980), Kanthavalayam (1980), and Karimbana (1980).
Damodaran was known for his socio-dramas which often criticised the establishment, and which were studded with powerful dialogues. His scripts won wide appeal. Among his interesting subjects is the period drama 1921 (1988) which revolved around the Mappila Revolt in Malabar against the British. He also faced the camera as an actor in films such as Kilichundan Mampazham (2003) and Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha (2009).
He worked repeatedly with certain filmmakers, collaborating on several superhit films. While he wrote approximately 50 films for I V Sasi such as Angadi, Ee Nadu, Vartha, Avanazhi, Inspector Balram, 1921, Adimakal Udamakal (1987), and Balram vs. Taradas (2006), he penned several hits for director Priyadarshan as well such as Aryan (1988), Advaitham, Abhimanyu, and Kala Pani, as well as Unaroo (1984) for director Mani Rathnam. What’s more, T Damodaran is known to have written scripts that made superstars out of Mammootty, Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi.
While his scripts were a huge draw in the 80s, Damodaran continued to write successful stories in the 90s, though he did reduce his output to some extent. The last film he penned was Yes Your Honour (2006). Directed by V M Vinu, the film was also a hit.
Married to Pushpa, the couple has three daughters— Deedi, Simna, Rashmi. Deedi Damodaran is also a screenwriter in Malayalam cinema, making her debut with the film Gulmohar (2008).
T Damodaran passed away on 28 March, 2012. He was 77.