The new movie Old is a scary tale about a family rapidly aging on a mysterious beach, but it’s inspired by something much more heartwarming. Director M. Night Shyamalan has three daughters with his wife, Bhavna Shyamalan, PhD, and in a behind-the-scenes video, he shared that “the movie is about seeing your children grow up so fast.” He explained, “That’s the feeling that I wanted to capture. In real life, my children have grown up now, they’re adults and they’re amazing artists.”
As for her chosen field, Ishana Night Shyamalan, M. Night’s 21-year-old daughter, is following in her dad’s footsteps. The two got to spend a lot of time together while making Old, which she helped direct. Read on to find out more about how Ishana is taking after her famous father and how one of his other daughters also contributed to the new movie.
M. Night Shyamalan is known for movies with a twist like The Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable, and The Village. Though Ishana was born a year after The Sixth Sense came out in 1999, she’s still been able to learn a lot from her father’s other films, so much so that she decided to pursue a career as a writer and director, just like him.
In a post on Instagram in January, Ishana shared an old photo of herself as a child with her dad on the set of Lady in the Water along with a photo of them working together earlier this year on the Apple TV+ series Servant. “I grew up on sets, watching over my dad’s shoulder as he directed,” she wrote. “For the first time it went the other way around.” She added, “Ahhh the cyclicality of life.”
Being the second unit director for Old meant that Ishana was working with a crew separate from her father, who was filming the main action between the actors, but in the same location. “Having Ishana there made me feel like I never left home,” M. Night said in the behind-the-scenes video.
Of working with her father, Ishana said in the clip, “My dad is the most disciplined person I have ever met to an infuriating degree where I, as his daughter, am like, Wow, I guess I’m really not disciplined at all.”
In addition to working on Old, Ishana and her father worked together on Servant, which M. Night executive produces. “My daughter directed two episodes this season, and she wrote two by herself, co-wrote a third one and re-wrote a fourth one,” M. Night told The Hollywood Reporter in Dec. 2020. “So she was very involved in this second season, and she’s been training forever. From the time she was four, we’ve talked about cinema and writing. She also went to film school and did all that.” Ishana studied filmmaking at her father’s alma mater, New York University.
In June, M. Night posted that Ishana was also directing the Season 3 finale of Servant.
Ishana’s older sister, 24-year-old Saleka Shyamalan
Saleka has also worked with their dad, writing a song for Servant and another for Old. “#OldTheMovie is out in theaters TOMORROW!!!” Saleka wrote on Instagram on July 22. “And the soundtrack, featuring ‘Remain’ will be available on all platforms at midnightttt I still can’t believe I got to contribute to this movie.”
In addition to Saleka and Ishana, M. Night and Bhavna, who have been married since 1993, have a 16-year-old daughter named Shivani Shyamalan. Naturally, the Shyamalans made the Old premiere a family affair with all three daughters in attendance.
In January, M. Night, Saleka, and Ishana were all interviewed on Today, and Saleka talked about how close all three sisters are. “We’re genuinely best fiends,” she said. “We also have a little sister and the three of us are super close.”