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Sukumari Amma
Sukumari at kollam.JPG
Born(1940-10-06)6 October 1940
Died26 March 2013(2013-03-26) (aged 72)
Years active1946 – 2013
(m. 1959; died 1978)
Parent(s)Madhavan Nair
Sathyabhama Amma
RelativesTravancore family

Sukumari Amma (6 October 1940 – 26 March 2013) was an Indian actress best known for her works in Malayalam and Tamil films.[1] In a career spanning more than five decades, She has appeared in more than 2500 films predominantly in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, along with few Hindi and one each in Sinhala, French, Bengali, Tulu, English and Kannada films.[2] Sukumari began acting at the age of 10.[3] In 2003, she was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India for her contributions toward the arts.[4] She won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Tamil film Namma Gramam (2010).[5] Sukumari died on 26 March 2013 in Chennai, following a heart attack.[6]

Early life

Sukumari was born on 6 October 1940[7] in Nagercoil, Travancore (Currently in Tamil Nadu), to Malayali parents Madhavan Nair (a bank manager) and Sathyabhama Amma of Tharishuthala Valia Veedu in Kalkulam (in present-day Kanyakumari District). Sathyabhama Amma was the niece of Narayani Pillai Kunjamma, a famous beauty who spurned the king in favour of marrying the aristocratic landowner Kesava Pillai of Kandamath[8] Through her cousin, Ambika Sukumaran, she is related to the Travancore Royal Family.

She studied at Poojappura LP School until second grade; she then moved to Madras, where she studied until fourth forum.[9] She had four sisters (Rajakumari, Sreekumari, Jayasree and Girija) and one brother, Shankar. Lalitha, Padmini, Ragini (Travancore Sisters) were her cousins.


Sukumari was noticed by a director when she visited the sets of a film with Padmini, and she made her film debut in the lead role in the Tamil film Or Iravu.[10] She acted in various Malayalam and Tamil Films of the black and white era, such as Udhyogastha, by P. Venu, Chettathi, Kusruthikkuttan, Kunjali Marakkar, Thacholi Othenan, Yakshi and Karinizhal. She later became popular after starring in various films of Priyadarshan such as Poochakkoru Mookkuthi, Oodarathuammava Aalariyam, Boeing Boeing and Vandanam. She also appeared in various films directed by Balachandra Menon such as Manicheppu Thurannappol and Karyam Nissaram.[10] In later years, she played a major role in Nizhalkuthu (2002), directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan.[11] She played many notable mother roles.

She mastered dance forms like Kathakali, Bharathanatyam, Kerala Natanam and many musical instruments. From the age of seven, she performed all over India and different parts of the world including USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Ceylon, Australia and so on. Sukumari is also known for her stage career in her early days, most prominently as a member of Cho Ramaswamy's theatre group; Viveka Fine Arts (more than 5000 stage shows). She was a member of Y. G. Parthasarathy's and Pattu's drama troupe; United Amateur Artists (more than 1000 stage shows), Rajasulochana's dance troupe; Pushpanjali (more than 5000 stage shows), Travancore Sisters' Dancers of India troupe (many stage shows), T. D. Kusalakumari's troupe; (more than 1000 stage shows) and Padmini's independent dance drama troupe;Premanand Pictures (many stage shows) etc. for many decades. Awards in the name of Sukumari have been instituted for the memory like "Vanita Ratnam Award" : in the field of acting. "Mikacha Nadi Sukumari Puraskaram" by ACTA annakkara, "Sukumari Smaraka Foundation Award" by True Indian Information and Guidance Society and "Famea Sukumari Puraskaram".

Her memoirs in the film industry have been compiled in a book called "Ormakalude Vellithira" by M.S Dileep. "Sukumari Sradhanjali Parambara" is another book on her.

Personal life

Sukumari married director A. Bhimsingh in 1959. He died in 1978, when she was 38. The couple had a son, Suresh, who has acted in films such as Amme Narayana, Yuvajanotsavam and Cheppu, and is a professional doctor. Suresh married Uma, a costume designer. Suresh and Uma have a son named Vignesh.[12]


On 26 March 2013, Sukumari died from a cardiac arrest at a hospital in Chennai, where she was receiving treatments for burns she had sustained while lighting a traditional lamp at her residence in February 2013.[6][13][14][15]

Following her death, several South Indian personalities offered their condolences. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who had co-starred with Sukumari, said in a condolence message that Sukumari had left a unique imprint on South Indian cinema and theatre with her talents. Kerala's Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy called Sukumari a "phenomenon in Malayalam cinema". Actor and Minister for Cinema K. B. Ganesh Kumar said actors in the Malayalam film industry had lost "the loving presence of a mother in the sets". Leader of the Opposition V. S. Achuthanandan called Sukumari's death a "huge loss for Indian cinema". Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala said Sukumari would be remembered for "the diversity of characters that she gave life to". Communist Party of India State Secretary Pannian Ravindran said Sukumari was "an unforgettable acting genius". Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K. V. Thomas described Sukumari as an actor who conquered the film scene with her unique acting style.[16] South Indian Film Artistes Association president R. Sarathkumar remembered the actress as being an inspiration to others. Actor and renowned television producer Raadhika recalled Sukumari's many dance performances.[17] Actor and president of Association of Malayalam Movie Artists Innocent said at a condolence meeting at Kochi that her death was an irreparable loss to Malayalam film industry. South Indian film star Mohanlal likened her death to the loss of "a mother, sister and a good friend". Speaker G. Karthikeyan also expressed grief at her death.[18] Director Shaji Kailas deemed her loss an "irreparable one for the film industry".[19]

Partial filmography

Main article: Sukumari filmography

Awards and honours

Year Award Category Film Language Role
2003 Civilian awards Padma Shri
2011 National Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Namma Gramam Tamil Ammini Ammal
1974 Kerala State Film Awards Second Best Actress Chattakkari Malayalam Margarette (Maggie)
1979 Kerala State Film Awards Second Best Actress Various films Malayalam
1983 Kerala State Film Awards Second Best Actress Koodevide, Karyam Nissaram Malayalam Dr.Susan,Annie
1986 Kerala State Film Awards Second Best Actress Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil Malayalam Devaki
1990 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Kalai Selvam Award Tamil
1991-1992 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Kalaimamani Award Tamil
2000 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Sivaji Ganesan Award Tamil
2005 Filmfare Awards Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award
1998 Asianet Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Samaantharangal Malayalam Aishu
2005 Asianet Film Awards Lifetime Achievement Award Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada
2006 Asianet Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Malayalam
1979 Kerala Film Critics Award Best Supporting Actress Ezhunirangal Malayalam Sharada's mother
1982 Kerala Film Critics Award Best Supporting Actress Chiriyo Chiri Malayalam Sukumari (Herself)
1985 Kerala Film Critics Award Best Supporting Actress Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil Malayalam Devaki
Kerala Film Critics Award Chalachithra Ratnam Malayalam
2000 Kerala Film Critics Award Special Award for Contribution to the Film Industry Malayalam
2011 Kerala Film Critics Award Chalachitra Pratibha Malayalam
1967 Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Various films Malayalam
1974 Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Special Award Chattakkari Malayalam Margarette (Maggie)
1980 Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Best Character Actress Malayalam
1981 Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Best Character Actress Malayalam
1971 Films Fans Association Awards – Madras Best Supporting Actress Thoraimugam Tamil
1974 Films Fans Association Awards – Madras Best Supporting Actress Chattakkari Malayalam Margarette (Maggie)
1997 Prachodanam Award
2000 Gulf Malayalee Cine Awards All Rounder of the Millennium Malayalam
2000 KSFDC Special Facilitation at Jubilee Malayalam
2000 Lux Asianet Award Special Honour Malayalam
2001 Kala Kairali Awards Special Award
2001 Dubai Kairali Kala Kendra Association Award Lifetime Achievement Award
2002 Bharath Cine Awards Tamil Thirai Ulaga Sagapthangal Tamil
2003 Parvathypadmam Puraskaram Lifetime Achievement Award
2004 Kerala Woman Beauticians Association: TV Serial Award Best Character Artist Avicharitham Malayalam
2005 Sangam Kala Group Lifetime Achievement Award Malayalam
2005 Federation of Kerala Associations in North America (FOKANA) Contribution to Malayalam films. Malayalam
2007 SICA Award Lifetime Achievement Award
2007 P.S. John Endowment Award
2007 Malayala Chalachithra Parishad Lifetime Achievement Award Malayalam
2007 Ernakulam Press Club Award Lifetime Achievement Award Malayalam
2007 Kala Abu Dhabi Award Kala Ratnam Award
2007 Prem Nazir Award Malayalam
Sathyan Award (Kerala Cultural Forum) Malayalam
2008 Mathrubhumi Amrita Film Awards Amrita Chalachitra Saparya Puraskaram Malayalam
2008 Nippon Paints Award Lifetime Achievement Award
2009 Telefest Award Best Actress Mizhikal Sakshi Malayalam Kooniamma/Nabisa
2009 Atlas Critic Award Malayalam
2009 Asia Television U.A.E
2009 World Malayalee Council India region & Kairali Channel Award Best Supporting Actress Mizhikal Sakshi Malayalam Kooniamma/Nabisa
2010 Gurupranamam, Honour by MACTA Lifetime Achievement Malayalam
2010 Thrissur Jilla Souhruida Award Malayalam
2011 Bahadoor Award Malayalam
Trivandrum Film Fraternity Malayalam
2011 Act Puraskaram Malayalam
2012 Asiavision TV Awards Malayalam
Sangeetha, UK Award Abhinava Puraskaram
Trichur Nagar Sabha Award Jangiya Award Malayalam
Prashasthi Pathram Acting with two generation actors in different languages
Kala Kairali, Chennai Award Abhinaya Bharathi
2001 Honour by TVS Victor "Ammayodoppam"
2002 Soorya Stage & Film Society Honour Felicitation for Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema
2002 Gurupooja, Soorya Festival Special Honour Lifetime Achievement
Honour by Kaniyapuram Rail View Residence Association
Pravasa Bharathi Karma Ratna Award
2000 Narasimham 175 Days Celebration (Special Honour)
2003 Ammayodoppam
2003 Honour by Delhi Tamil Sangam
2005 Honour by Jacey Foundation
2005 Honour by Amrita TV Film Fraternity Awards
2006 Honour by Samskara Samithi
2006 Honour by Sree Poonthuruthi Muchilott Bhagavathi Temple
2007 Honour by Sangamam show on Amrita TV
2012 Honour by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry
2012 ICCI Honour
2013 Honour by Sundara Sowhrudam
2013 Honour by Friends of Arts& Cultural Entertainments (FACE Dubai) - "Thriveni Sangamam"
2013 Indiavision Live Poll - Favourite Actress (100 Years of Indian Cinema) Second position


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Sukumari got appeared in various print features, audio-visual endorsements,online promotions, commercial public campaigns etc.

See also


  1. ^ Kumar, P. K. Ajith (27 March 2013). "Sukumari - Timeless roles, priceless acting". The Hindu. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  2. ^ Staff Reporter (26 March 2013). "Actor Sukumari succumbs to burns". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  3. ^ Article - The Hindu[Usurped!]
  4. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  5. ^ "National Film awards winners 2010". Bada Screen. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  6. ^ a b "South Indian Actress Sukumari passes away". The Week. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  7. ^ "സുകുമാരി അന്തരിച്ചു". Mathrubhumi. 26 March 2013. Archived from the original on 26 March 2013.
  8. ^ Kerala Council for Historical research Family History Papers Tharishuthala by K. K. N
  9. ^ "സുകുമാരി അന്തരിച്ചു - Latest News - Mathrubhumi". Archived from the original on 26 March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  10. ^ a b Before moving to Chennai, she started learning dance from her Valiyamma Karthyaniyamma.[1] Archived 22 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ [2] Archived 22 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Malayala Manoram Online Edition, 27 March 2013". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Actor Sukumari succumbs to burns". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Sukumari, veteran Malayalam actress, dies". The Times of India. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  15. ^ Gopi, Vinod (27 March 2013). "Ammavilikannanju: Sukumari Inni Orma". Malayala Manorama.
  16. ^ "Grief over Sukumari's death". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  17. ^ "Actor Sukumari succumbs to burns". The Hindu. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  18. ^ "Actor and Padma Shri awardee Sukumari passes away". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Actress Sukumari's funeral to be held in Chennai today". IBN Live. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  20. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "MK fabrics advertisement Madhu & sukumari". YouTube.