Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair
Sukumaran Nair

(1916-10-16)16 October 1916
Thickurichy, Near Marthandam, Travancore, British India (present day Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India)
Died11 March 1997(1997-03-11) (aged 80)
Years active1950–1997
  • Sarojini Kunjamma
  • Ambalapuzha Meenakshy Amma
  • K. Sulochana Devi
  • Mangat C. Govinda Pillai
  • N. Lekshmi Amma
AwardsPadma Shri (1973)

Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair (16 October 1916 – 11 March 1997) was an Indian poet, playwright, script writer, lyricist, orator, film director and actor, though he is best known as an actor in Malayalam cinema. He is the recipient of Padma Shri from the Government of India, which is one of the highest civilian honours in India. In a career that spanned about 47 years, he acted in over 700 films. He is considered to be the "first superstar of Malayalam cinema".[1] In 1993, he was honoured with the J. C. Daniel Award, Kerala government's highest honour for contributions to Malayalam cinema.

Early life

Sukumaran Nair was born on 16 October 1916 in the village of Thikkurissy, Nagercoil, then part of Travancore. The village of Thikkurissy is now in Nanchilnadu, Nagercoil, Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu. He was born in an aristocratic Nair family to Mangat C. Govinda Pillai and N. Lekshmi Amma.[2] He was a good writer and an orator even when he was doing his schooling in Marthandam Government Boys School. He wrote his first poem at the age of 8 and his poem was published for the first time when he was 14 in Dhakshina Bharathi. His poems were collectively published as a book named Kedavilakku when he was 20.[3] His parents wanted him to secure a government job, but he launched his career in writing and arts even before he completed his studies. Incidentally, his sister L. Omanakkunjamma was the first female magistrate in India.[3]


He launched his career as a playwright. His plays Mareechika and Kalakaran were hugely successful. He then went on to write three more—Sthree, Maya and Sariyo Thetto—that revolutionised the professional play scenario in Malayalam. He replaced the melodramatic romantic musicals, which ruled the roost till then, with dialogue centred prose plays having themes of realism and social importance.[2]

He entered the Malayalam film industry in 1950, which was in its early years with only about 10 films produced.[4] He debuted in the industry with the film adaptation of his breakthrough play Sthree. He produced the film and played the protagonist as well. It failed to make much impact at the box office, the film scene in Kerala then being ruled by Tamil and Hindi films. Thikkurussy's next film Jeevitha Nouka (1951), produced by K and K Productions and directed by K. Vembu, was a turning point in Malayalam film history. It dealt with the theme of ego clashes in a joint family and was a big commercial success: It is touted as the first superhit in Malayalam film history.[5][6] The success also made Thikkurissy the first superstar of Kerala.[1] Jeevitha nouka was dubbed into four languages including Hindi. In 1952, he acted in Navalokam with a socially significant theme with Miss Kumari, who would later become the pet of the masses after the success of Neelakkuyil (1954). Navalokam did not make it big at the box office, but Thikkurissy cemented his superstardom with a big hit in the same year.

Visappinte Vili had Prem Nazir, then a novice. Thikkurissy coined Prem Nazir's screen name (his actual name was Abdul Khader). In 1953, another landmark of his, titled Sariyo Thetto, was released. It was a film adaptation of his play of the same name. Sariyo Thetto had him handling the story, screenplay, dialogues, lyrics and direction departments besides playing the pivotal role.[7] With that Thikkurissy established himself as an inseparable element of Malayalam film industry. In 1968, he acted in the first full-length comedy film, Viruthan Shanku, directed by P. Venu. He was credited with lyrics, screenplay and direction in many films. The 13 films for which he was the lyricist includes Sthree, Palunku Paathram, Devasundari, Urvashi Bharathi, Poojapushpam and Balloon.[7] He wrote story and screenplay for Muthalali and Aana Valarthiya Vanampadi. He directed the films Sariyo Thetto, Poojapushpam, Achante Bharya, Palunkupathram, Saraswati, Nurse and Urvashi Bharathi. His major acting ventures are Jeevithanauka, Navalokam, Visappinte Vili, Iruttinte Atmavu, Swayamvaram, Umma, Bhakthakuchela, Nadi, Thulabharam, Maya, Abhijathyam, Surveykkallu, Avanazhi and Aryan.[8]


Thikkurussy coined screen-names of many actors in Malayalam cinema. Actors who were renamed by Thikkurissy include

Personal life

Thikkurissy married three times in his life. His first wife was Sarojini Kunjamma, daughter of Madhavan Unnithan, who belonged to a prominent family in Karuvatta, Alappuzha, known as Samudayathil. The couple has two daughters. The eldest, Shyamala Devi Kunjamma alias Lekha was an executive engineer in Ernakulam. Their second daughter Geethadevi Kunjamma is a housewife in Pujappura, Thiruvananthapuram. After parting ways with his first wife, Thikkurussy married play actor Ambalapuzha Meenakshy Amma. The couple had a son named Rajahamsan, who now lives in Chennai. The second marriage also didn't last long and Thikkurussy married K. Sulochana Devi, who was a singer and dancer. This marriage however was successful and lasted for more than four decades till his death. Thikkurissy had a daughter from this marriage named Kanakasree. She, like her father was interested in poetry and took name as a good poet. Thikkurussy had a personal tragedy when Kanakasree died due to a bike accident in 1989.[11] During his final days, he suffered from many diseases owing to his advanced age. Finally, he died on 11 March 1997 aged 80 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, due to kidney failure.[citation needed]


The major awards that he received are:[12]

Selected filmography




A full acting filmography list is available here.[14]








  1. ^ a b "Malayalam’s first super star". The Hindu. 23 May 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  2. ^ a b Biography Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 24 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b Weblokam profile: Page 1 Archived 18 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 24 September 2012.
  4. ^ Cinema History Archived 23 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 24 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Jeevitha Nauka 1951". The Hindu. 16 August 2008. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  6. ^ "Special: The A-Z of Malayalam cinema". Rediff. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  7. ^ a b Movies Archived 26 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 24 September 2012.
  8. ^ Weblokam profile: p. 2 Archived 6 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 24 September 2012.
  9. ^ a b Prema Manmadhan (14 October 2005). "The Hindu: Talent Unlimited". Archived from the original on 24 February 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link).
  10. ^ The Hindu: J.C. Daniel Award for Madhu[usurped]. (23 April 2005). Retrieved on 24 September 2012.
  11. ^ Biography Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 24 September 2012.
  12. ^ Awards Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine. (4 January 1996). Retrieved on 24 September 2012.
  13. ^ "Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Fellowship: Drama". Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala. Retrieved 25 February 2023.
  14. ^ Please go through some of the finest performances of Thikkurissy Archived 19 October 2004 at the Wayback Machine.