Born in 1941, Adoor Gopalakrishnan started acting the amateur stage at the early age of eight. Wrote and directed over twenty Stage Plays during his academic career. A graduate in Political Science and Economics, he joined the Film Institute in Pune after a short stint of employment with the Kerala Government and got his diplomas in Script writing and Direction in 1965. One of the leading lights of the New Indian Cinema, Adoor pioneered the Film Society Movement in the State of Kerala and started the country's first film Co-operative, Chitralekha for the production, distribution and exhibition of quality films.
He has scripted and directed nine films and more than two dozen Shorts and Documentaries. Each of his feature films has won top national awards. His first film, Swayamvaram went on to win National awards for best film, best director, best cameraman and best actress. Since then He has won national award for best director four times and best script writer thrice. His films have been shown in every important festivals including, Cannes, Berlin and Venice. Adoor's third feature, Elippathayam won him the coveted British Film Institute Award for the most original and imaginative film of 1982. The International Film Critics' Prize (FIPRESCI) has gone to him five times successively for Mukhamukham, Anantaram, Mathilukal, Vidheyan and Kathapurushan. In 1983 the Government of India, Conferred on him the title of Padmashri and Padmavibhushan in 2006 in recognition of his contribution to Indian Cinema. His collection of essays, The World of cinema got the national award for Best book on Cinema in 1984. His pioneering work in the Film Society Movement has gone a long way in creating a better film culture in his home State. He has served on International Film Festival juries in Venice, Hawaii, Singapore, Sochi, New Delhi, Brussels, Alexandria and so on.
A complete retrospective of his films was held at the French Cinematheque, Paris in 1999. Other important retrospectives include the ones at the Lincoln Center, New York (1994), La Rochelle, Pesaro, Madrid and Fribourg. He has also been honoured with tributes and homage at the film festivals of Helsinki, Denver, Munich, Nantes, Alexandria, Figuera da Foz, Manila, Houston etc.
This interview with Adoor by C S Venkiteswaran was conducted in 2001.