Veteran Director Siddique Passes Away

The director suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away at a private hospital in Kochi on August 8

Prominent Tamil and Malayalam writer-director Siddique passed away at a private hospital in Kochi on August 8, after having suffered a cardiac arrest the previous day. Siddique was reportedly suffering from liver-related ailments over the last month. The director is survived by his wife Sajitha and his three daughters.

The filmmaker began his career as an assistant to Malayalam director Fazil in the film Nokkethadhoorathu Kannu Nattu (1984), where he worked alongside his long time friend and collaborator Lal. Siddique along with Lal, famously referred to as the ‘Siddiqe- Lal’ duo even to this day in Kerala, worked on the scripts of many successful films like Pappan Priyapetta Pappan (1986), Nadodikkattu (1987), and Kakkotthikavile Appoppan Thaadikal (1988).

The duo’s career took off in the year 1989 when they joined hands as a directorial team to make comedy classics like Ramji Rao Speaking (1989), In Harihar Nagar (1990), Godfather (1991), Vietnam Colony (1992) and Kabooliwala (1992).This four-year run of films is undoubtedly considered to be one of the most successful directorial pairings in Malayalam cinema history. 

A still from Vietnam Colony
A still from Vietnam Colony

After splitting up with Lal in the year 1993, Siddique would go on to become an independent director in the following years and become a household name for Malayalee film lovers for his slapstick comedy and genre defining masterpieces. He made his solo directorial debut with Hitler (1996), starring Mammootty, Shobhana, Mukesh in the lead that told the story of a domineering elder brother, who would go to any extent to protect his five young sisters from roadside romances. The film was a huge commercial success, marking a great comeback for Siddique and helped him navigate his own path in the industry. 

Siddique followed this up with the even more successful Friends (1999), where he cast Jayaram, Mukesh, Meena and Sreenivasan in the lead and told the story of a friendship between three men. Even though he turned down several offers to direct a telugu version of Hitler earlier, Siddique went on to adapt his own screenplay to make a Tamil version of Friends (2001) with Vijay, Surya and Devayani in the lead roles. The film is still considered a landmark success in Tamil cinema and made Siddique a bigger name outside Kerala too.

The director then went on to direct blockbuster films such as Chronic Bachelor (2003) and its Tamil remake Engal Anna (2004), starring Mammootty and Vijayakanth respectively that substantiated his clout and stature in the industry. He made his entry into Telugu cinema with a loose retelling of his own Malayalam classic Mannar Mathai Speaking (1995), (which itself a desi take on Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) with Maaro (2011). He then took a short break before coming out with Bodyguard (2010), the film starring Dileep and Nayanthara which became a reasonable success in Kerala, but proved to be a winner for him as he was entrusted with the Tamil and Hindi remakes, Kaavalan (2011) and Bodyguard ( 2011) starring Vijay and Salman Khan respectively. 

In 2016, he joined hands with his longtime collaborator Lal once again to co-write King Liar,  which starred Dileep and Madonna Sebastian in the lead, with Lal handling directing duties alone this time. Siddique’s last film was the action entertainer Big Brother (2020) starring Mohanlal.

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