After a diploma from the School of Drama, Trichur, Bharathan entered the field of cinema as an art-director for Ghandarva Kshetram directed by A Vincent. Bharathan's inspiration to enter the world of cinema came from his uncle, famous director, P N Menon. After working as an assistant and ad director for some films, he made his directorial debut with Prayanam based on Padmarajan's script. This commenced a partnership between these two directors, which presented some quality works to Malayalam cinema. He also made the highly successful film Thevar Maghan in Tamil and also remade his Malayalam film Thakara into Tamil as Avarampoo. Bharathan won several State awards during his film career.
Rathi Nirvedam - 1978
Through Rathi Nirvedam Bharathan proved that films with sexual contents could be made without being vulgar, something which is rare even today in India.
Pappu, an adolescent boy falls in love with an elder lady next door, Rathi. The consummation of the relationship is treated in high Gothic style with the midnight union in a deserted cobra shrine, culminating by the woman being dying by snakebite. The next morning, feeling like a real man, he sets out for the college and a new life.
Lorry - 1980
From the Bharathan-Padmarajan team, Lorry is about a villainous character, Velan who kidnaps and forcibly blinds village children to turn them into fellow circus performers. He falls in love with one of his victims, Rani, as does his lorry-driver friend Ouseph. Eventually, Ouseph and Velan kills each other allowing Rani to escape with the man she really loves, a lorry cleaner.
A headmaster with progressive ideologies, Narayana Iyer falls in love with the school's music teacher, Nirmala belonging to a lower cast. Her husband is a political activist and their child is looked after by her parents in her home village. When Nirmala's husband is shot dead by the police, Iyer's and Nirmala's love triumphs over all the obstacles created by the society.
Marmaram won the State award for best film.
Ormakkayi - 1982
Ormakkayi tells the tragic story of Susannah as a flashback during a scooter ride, while she looks for her little daughter after being released from prison. Her story involves the death of her pleasure-loving Anglo Indian father, her marriage to a deaf and dumb painter Nandagopal and the unwelcome advances of the pop singer Peter Lal. In a scuffle, both Peter and Nandagopal are killed causing Susannah's arrest.
Direction & Co-Screenplay: Bharathan