Remembering the Legacy of Malayalam Filmmaker Siddique Ismail (1959-2023)

The Malayalam film industry mourns the loss of a cinematic luminary as Siddique Ismail, a distinguished director and screenwriter, bids farewell at the age of 63. Siddique’s cinematic journey encompassed a range of memorable works, including “Friends,” “Engal Anna,” “Sadhu Miranda,” and “Bhaskar Oru Rascal,” etching his name into the annals of Malayalam cinema. His directorial legacy culminated with the 2020 action-thriller “Big Brother,” a project that starred the likes of Mohanlal, Arbaaz Khan, Anoop Menon, and Honey Rose.

Siddique’s artistic voyage embarked alongside his creative partner Lal, forming the iconic ‘Siddique-Lal’ duo. This dynamic duo introduced themselves to the cinematic realm with the timeless comedy “Ramji Rao Speaking” (1989), a venture generously backed by Fazil. This marked the inception of a remarkable chapter in Malayalam film history, characterized by memorable films like “In Harihar Nagar” (1990), “Godfather” (1991), “Vietnam Colony” (1992), “Kabooliwala” (1993), and “Hitler” (1996).

Born on August 1, 1960, in Kochi to Ismail Haji and Zainaba, Siddique Ismail’s journey was rooted in his time at St. Paul’s College, Kalamassery. His union with Sajitha on May 6, 1984, bore three daughters—Sumaya, Sara, and Sukoon. Siddique’s professional odyssey commenced as an assistant director to Fazil, a role that catalyzed his growth within the industry. Fazil’s discovery of the Siddique-Lal duo’s talent, witnessed during their performances with the Cochin Kalabhavan troupe, would shape their collaborative journey. While the duo eventually parted ways, with Lal transitioning to acting and production, Siddique forged ahead with his directorial ventures, cementing his reputation in the comedy genre. Notably, his films in Tamil often drew from his Malayalam creations, often taking shape as adaptations of his earlier works.