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Cinema: HEAD TO head.

They are the two directors currently captivating audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. M Night Shyamalan has seen his film Signs make a phenomenal $205 million at the American box office. Meanwhile, Mr Kate Winslet, Sam Mendes, who made his name with American Beauty, is being whispered as an Oscar contender again for Road To Perdition. But who is the true king of the hill and who is the dirty rascal?

M NIGHT SHYAMALAN

AGE: 32

BACKGROUND: Manoj was born in India but soon moved to one of the wealthiest suburbs of America, outside Philadelphia, with his doctor parents. His brainy family includes nine other MD and PhDs. He attended a prestigious local school before attending university at the trendy Tisch School of Arts in New York. Here he added the mysterious ``Night'' to his name, getting rid of the more complicated Nelliyattu. 7/10

LUVVIE?

Addicted to films as a boy, he got his first Super 8 Camera as an eight-year-old and made 45 homemade movies before the age of 17. His first real film, Praying With Anger in 1992, won him critical acclaim. This raised the cash to make Wide Awake in 1998, which bombed. He really hit the superstar list in 1999 with The Sixth Sense, followed in 2000 by Unbreakable. This year he has become Hollywood's highest paid scriptwriter with Signs, starring Mel Gibson, which earned him pounds 8.5 million. 7/10

LOVER OR FIGHTER?

Definitely a one-woman lover. Rejecting the Hollywood route of serial blonde dating, Shyamalan is married to Bhavna, a doctor, naturally, and has two children. No scandal here. 2/10

THE VERDICT: 16/30

The mysterious one loses for lack of girlfriend poaching.

SAM MENDES

AGE: 37

BACKGROUND: Born into a respectable family in Reading, his father was a retired university lecturer and his mother an author but they divorced when Mendes was five. Sam was educated at Cambridge University and joined the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1987. 6/10

LUVVIE?

Definitely. He started out on the boards, directing Judi Dench in The Cherry Orchard, for which he won a Critics Circle Best Newcomer Award. He then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company until 1992 when he was appointed artistic director at the Donmar Warehouse. There he staged productions of The Glass Menagerie and Cabaret, which earned him a coveted Tony Award. He became a sensation, though, when he got Nicole Kidman to strip off in The Blue Room. His big break in film came in 1999 with his smash hit debut American Beauty which won him a best director Oscar. Road To Perdition is now a strong contender at next year's Oscar ceremony. 9/10

LOVER OR FIGHTER: Definitely a serial lover. Has been linked to ``slender'' Calista Flockhart and sultry Rachel Weisz. His current Oscar-toting love is Kate Winslet, who dumped hubby for this big-hitter. 8/10

THE VERDICT: 23/30 Wins hands down on general thespyness and the girls he has taken to the premieres.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 20, 2002
Words:497
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