A versatile genius who had enthralled successive
generations of filmgoers by the sheer virtuosity of his manifold
For nearly half a century .He was a poet, playwright,
scenarist, lyricist, orator, director and above all a thespian
in the true sense of the term. Making his debut on the screen
way back in 1950, he had appeared in more than 500 films.
In between, he had enacted an astounding variety
of roles ranging from the handsome and chivalrous hero to the
hardcore and cold-blooded villain, from benevolent god to a malevolent
devil, from a prince to a pauper.
Be it profound or profane, earthy or ethereal,
each portrayal of his had the hallmark of a perfectionist he truly
was. Indeed in the history of cinema no other actor has played
such wide and winsome range of roles. And he was never typecast
for a particular role like most stars of today. He felt at home
in every role! Little wonder, he was lauded as a consummate artiste,
who could transform the mundane into the magnificent by the intrinsic
quality of his inimitable acting, with commendable ease and élan.
Born in an aristocratic family as the son of
Mangat C. Govinda Pillai and N. Lekshmi Amma at Thikkurissi, a
serene hamlet in the erstwhile South Travancore, (in the present
Kanyakumari district) in 1916, Sukumaran Nair -that was his real
name -evinced prodigious talents as a writer and orator even while
at school. Endowed with a golden tongue, and handsome to behold,
he could win friends and fans both on the public stage and in
private gatherings. His parents wanted him to opt for a government
job or an academic career. But, so irresistible was the call of
the Muse that he took to writing and acting. Incidentally, his
sister, L. Omanakkunjamma, was the first magistrate in the country
and the first Woman I.A.S officer from the State.
At the age of eight he attempted writing poetry.
His poem was first published when he was fourteen in “Dhakshina
Bharathi” His earlier poems were romantic in rhyme and spirit.
To quote his own words, "heady with the honey-dew of romanticism,
whatever I beheld in my youth had a halo of their own l beckoning
me to a hazy world of unheard melodies and unknown ecstasies,"
Compiled in "Kedavilakku" (1940) the pieces were marked by a certain
erotic ring reminiscent of Changampuzha.
He wrote two plays 'Mareechika' and 'Kalakaran'
which went well with the audience, and followed it up with 'Sthree',
'Maya' and 'Shriyo Thetto'. That was a peculiar brand of musical
melodrama in which the hero had to indulge in a singing competition
of sorts with the harmonist reigning supreme. Thikkurissy replaced
it with a new genre of prose drama surcharged with powerful dialogue
and themes of social import. It goes to his credit the plays he
improvised were a harbinger of the realistic g drama that took
roots and shoots in the subsequent decades.
Marriages are made in heaven...he enjoyed it
thrice.... First wife was Sarojini Kunjamma ...hails from a rich
and eminent family at Karuvatta near Alleppy district. God blessed
them with two children Lekha and Geetha.... but faith departs
them... Shyamala Devi Kunjamma is an executive engineer in Ernakulam.
Geethambika Kunjamma is a housewife in Pujappura. Then Drama Artist
Ambalapuzha Meenakshy Amma got the opportunity to enjoy the eternal
love and care of the great Actor had a son from this relationship
Rajahamsan lives in Madras...His final lap that was with K. Sulochana
Devi, who is known for her music and dance lasted for GOLDEN 41
The only Daughter from this marriage 'Golden Girl'
Kanakasree who has got an enviable poetic talent died prematurely
in an accident.
Quick-witted and adept at repartee, he was a compulsive conversationalist
who cheered up his listeners with amusing anecdotes of a personal
sort. At ease with both the sublime and the ridiculous, he could
compose playful parodies in a trice, which often bordered on ribaldry,
but won wide acclaim among the hedonistic youth. There was in
fact a touch of theatricality about all he did and uttered. Not
only in dress and demeanor, but also in gait, gesture and gesticulation,
he compelled attention, as an exuberant extrovert. In the twilight
years however, he became mellow and withdrawn, especially after
the accidental demise of his daughter, Kanakasree, in the prime
of her youth, a budding poetess.
He gave vent to his inconsolable grief in a tear- soaked elegy
'Ini Ee Kanneer Maathram'.
"Nothing to offer you, my dear, but a shattered father's