M. N. Nambiar

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M. N. Nambiar
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Manjeri Narayanan Nambiar

7 March 1919
Cannanore, Malabar, India (present-day Kannur, Kerala, India)
Died19 November 2008(2008-11-19) (aged 89)
Other namesUthama Villan, Gurusamy
SpouseRukmani Amma
  • Kelu Nambiar
  • Manjeri Kalyani Amma

Manjeri Narayanan Nambiar (7 March 1919 – 19 November 2008) was an Indian actor who worked predominantly in Tamil cinema, known mostly for his villain roles in an eight decade long career. He has also appeared in a few Malayalam films.


He appeared in many MGR movies as a villain. Some of the famous ones include Enga Veettu Pillai, Aayirathil Oruvan, Nadodi Mannan, Naalai Namadhe, Padagotti, Thirudathe, En Annan, Kaavalkaaran and Kudiyirundha Koyil.

Early life

Manjeri Narayan Nambiar [1] was born on 7 March 1919 at Kandakkai near Mayyil in Cannanore (Kannur) in North Malabar region of Kerala. He was the son of Kelu Nambiar and Manjeri Kalyani Amma. While he was still a child, his father died. He later moved to live and study in Ooty with his elder sister and brother-in-law. [2] He became interested in acting when he was 13 and he joined Nawab Rajamanikkam's troupe. He learnt discipline here which is according to him the major life skill at Madurai Bala nada vinodha kana sabha. From then on acting became the only thing that occupied him. His first film was Bhaktha Ramadoss, shot in 1935 in Hindi and Tamil, where he played as a comedian along with T.K.Sampangi.

Film career

Though he started as a hero, Nambiar soon started donning the role of a villain — so much so that today his name is synonymous with villainy in Kollywood. Nambiar has worked with seven generations of actors. His first pay was Rs.3 with Boys Company. He would retain Rs.1 and send Rs.2 to his mother. A man of very limited needs, he has never eaten food not cooked by his wife, Rugmini Nambiar.

He made quite a statement in the early 50s with his portrayal of 11 roles in Digambara Samiyar, one of his films as the Lead. His arresting performance in films such as Manthiri Kumari , Velaikaari , Ayirathil Oruvan , Thillana Mohanambal , Missiyamma and Nenjam Marappadillai paved way for a very successful career that spanned over five decades. [3]

A majority of the more than 1000 films that he has done is in Tamil, though he has acted in Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi, besides an English film `The Jungle' (with Rod Cameron, the film's hero, directed by William Burke) in which he appears in a few brief scenes. The film was released in 1952. The Hindi film he acted in was a remake of the Tamil Kanavane Kankanda Deivam. After becoming popular in Tamil films he started his own drama troupe called Nambiar Nataka Mandram. They staged two plays — `Kaviyin Kanavu' and a comedy play `Kalyana Supermarket.'

M.N.Nambiar was that rare contradictory personality - a cruel, charming villain on the silver screen while being a very pious man in real life. He was also a pure vegetarian and teetotaler. He was also an ardent devotee of Sabarimala Sri Ayyappan. He has had a long association with the temple, and visited the shrine more than 65 times over the last half a century; this has led to him being called Maha Guruswamy. His colleagues noted that he died during the famous Sabarimala season and it may be due to the blessing of his Lord. [4]

His favourite films remain `Aayirathil Oruvan' with MGR, `Ambikapathi' with Sivaji Ganesan, `Missiyamma' with Gemini Ganesan, `Nenjam Marappathillai' directed by Sridhar and `Thooral Ninu Pochu' with Bhagyaraj. This was the film that made him do character roles, something that he continued to do till his death. He also acted as hero in two films `Kalyani' and `Kavitha' produced by Modern Theaters. He has done stage, films and also acted on TV dramas like 'Oviyam' and Velan. When it comes to acting, he supposedly likes all the actors; but of special mention are M. R. Radha and Savitri. Both, in his opinion, were brilliant in their own way.

Partial filmography

1935Bhaktha RamadasTamil
1946 Vidyapathi Tamil
1947 Rajakumaari Tamil
Kanjan Tamil
1948 Abhimanyu Tamil
Mohini Tamil
1949 Velaikaari Tamil
1950 Manthiri Kumari TamilRajaguru
Digambara Samiyar Tamil
1951 Marmayogi TamilHinthi
Sarvadhikari TamilTelugu
1952 Kalyani Tamil
Jungle English
1953 Petrathai Tamil
Kanna Talli TeluguShankar
Azhagi Tamil
1954 Mangalyam TamilGopi
1955 Guna Sundari Tamil
Doctor Savithri Tamil
Pennarasi TamilMinister
Kaveri Tamil
1956 Tenali Raman TamilKannan
1957 Amara Deepam TamilSukumar
Makkalai Petra Magarasi TamilKannan
Rajarajan Tamil
Mayabazar Tamil Shakuni
Thangamalai Ragasiyam TamilKing Adithan
Ambikapathy Tamil
Pathini Deivam Tamil
1958 Uthama Puthiran TamilNaganathan
Nadodi Mannan Tamil
Illarame Nallaram Tamil
1959 Bhaaga Pirivinai TamilMani
Thanga Padhumai TamilBaladevar
Kalyana Parisu Tamil
1960 Raja Bakthi TamilGeneral
Veerakkanal Tamil
1961 Thirudathe Tamil
Arasilangkumari Tamil
Pasamalar TamilRathnam
Naaga Nandhini Tamil
Then Nilavu Tamil
Nallavan Vazhvan Tamil
1962 Raani Samyuktha Tamil
Nichaya Thamboolam Tamil
1963 Panathottam Tamil
Nenjam Marappathillai Tamil
Needhikkuppin Paasam Tamil
Parisu Tamil
Annai Illam Tamil
1964 Thaayin Madiyil Tamil
En Kadamai Tamil
Vettaikkaran Tamil
Padagotti Tamil
Thozhilali Tamil
1965 Aasai Mugam Tamil
Enga Veetu Pillai Tamil
Kalangarai Vilakkam Tamil
Thazhampoo Tamil
Aayirathil Oruvan Tamil
1966 Thali Bhagyam Tamil
Nadodi Tamil
Naan Aanaiyital Tamil
Petralthan Pillaiya Tamil
Parakkum Pavai Tamil
1967 Kaavalkaaran Tamil
Vivasayee TamilPannaiyar Velupandiyan
1968 Harichandra Tamil
Thirumal Perumai Tamil
Lakshmi Kalyanam TamilSuruttu Sundaram Pillai
Ragasiya Police 115 Tamil
Kudiyirundha Koyil TamilBhoopathy
Pudhiya Bhoomi Tamil
Enga Oor Raja TamilRajangam
Thillana Mohanambal TamilMaharaja of Madhanpur
1969Subha dinamTamilNarayana Iyer
Anbalippu Tamil
Kaaval Dheivam TamilAnanth
Gurudhatchanai Tamil
Anjal Petti 520 Tamil
Deiva Magan Tamil
Sivandha Mann Tamil
1970 En Annan Tamil
Thalaivan Tamil
Raman Ethanai Ramanadi Tamil
Paadhukaappu Tamil
1971 Thangaikkaaga Tamil
Kulama Gunama Tamil
Oru Thaai Makkal Tamil
Praptham Tamil
Savaale Samali Tamil
1972 Kurathi Magan Tamil
Naan Yen Pirandhen Tamil
Dharmam Engey Tamil
Idhaya Veenai Tamil
Raman Thediya Seethai Tamil
1973 Rajaraja Cholan Tamil
Ponnunjal Tamil
Pattikaattu Ponnaiya Tamil
Ulagam Sutrum Valiban Tamil
Rajapart Rangadurai Tamil
1974 Thaai Tamil
Urimaikural Tamil
Netru Indru Naalai Tamil
Sirithu Vazha Vendum Tamil
1975 Mannavan Vanthaanadi Tamil
Pallandu Vazhga Tamil
Ninaithadhai Mudippavan Tamil
1976 Satyam Tamil
Needhikku Thalaivanangu Tamil
1977 Meenava Nanban Tamil
Indru Pol Endrum Vaazhga Tamil
1978 Thacoli Ambu Malayalam
Punniya Boomi Tamil
Vayasu Ponnu Tamil
Varuvan Vadivelan Tamil
Mudi Sooda Mannan TamilRajaguru
1979 Avesham MalayalamShekhar
Nadagame UlagamTamil
Mamankam Malayalam
Thirisoolam Tamil
1980 Chandra Bimbam Malayalam
Arangum AniyarayumMalayalam
Ratha Paasam Tamil
Shakthi Malayalam
Guru Tamil
1981 Garjanai Tamil
Garjanam Malayalam
Thadavara Malayalam
1982 Chilanthivala MalayalamShekhar
Thooral Ninnu Pochu Tamil
Parvaiyin Marupakkam Tamil
1983 Thai Veedu Tamil
Dowry Kalyanam Tamil
Sandhippu Tamil
Saatchi Tamil
1984 Naan Mahaan Alla Tamil
Vetri Tamil
Vaazhkai Tamil
Simma Soppanam Tamil
1985 Needhiyin Nizhal TamilKrishna Prasad
Aatmabalam TeluguPuligolla Varahavataram
Thanga Mama 3D Tamil
Eetti Tamil
Puthiya Theerpu Tamil
1986 Karimedu Karuvayan Tamil
Nambinar Keduvathillai Tamil
Mella Thirandhathu Kadhavu Tamil
1987 Vilangu Tamil
Velundu Vinaiyillai Tamil
Jallikattu Tamil
Uzhavan Magan Tamil
1988Thappu KanakkuTamil
Thambi Thanga Kambi TamilThyagu
Nallavan Tamil
1989 Paattukku Oru Thalaivan Tamil
Meenakshi Thiruvilayadal Tamil
1990 Pulan Visaranai Tamil
Paattali Magan Tamil
Paalam Tamil
Avasara Police 100 Tamil
1991 Sami Potta Mudichu Tamil
Enga Ooru Sippai Tamil
Captain Prabhakaran Tamil
Maanagara Kaaval Tamil
1992 Chembaruthi Tamil
Thai Mozhi Tamil
Annai Vayal Tamil
Kaviya Thalaivan Tamil
1993 Yejaman Tamil
Ezhai Jaathi Tamil
Sakkarai Devan Tamil
Gentleman Tamil
Nallathe Nadakkum Tamil
Thanga Pappa Tamil
1994 Sethupathi IPS Tamil
Paasamalargal Tamil
Periya Marudhu Tamil
1995 Karuppu Nila Tamil
1996 Poove Unakkaga Tamil
Ramudochadu Telugu
1997 Vallal Tamil
1998 Moovendhar Tamil
Poonthottam Tamil
1999 Endrendrum Kadhal Tamil
Rojavanam Tamil
Pooparika Varugirom Tamil
2001 Sharja To Sharja MalayalamValiya Kappithan
Vinnukkum Mannukkum Tamil
2002 Varushamellam Vasantham Tamil
Baba TamilBaba's maternal uncle
Anbe Anbe TamilMahendra Bhoopathy
Winner TamilVelayutham
2004 Arasatchi Tamil
2005 Anbe Aaruyire Tamil
2006 Sudesi Tamil



Nambiar suffered from bacterial infection and died at his residence in Chennai on 19 November 2008. He was survived by his wife Rugmini Amma, 2 sons — one, a senior BJP leader Sukumar Nambiar, and the other, Mohan Nambiar, a prominent businessman based in Coimbatore and a daughter, Sneha Nambiar. His eldest son Sukumar Nambiar died on 8 January 2012 aged 63 and later, his wife Rugmini Amma also died on 11 April 2012 aged 82.


"If there was anyone who could act with both the top heroes (Sivaji Ganesan and M. G. R.) of Tamil cinema then, it was Nambiar. At one point, directors could not think of anyone else but him to play villain."

"This is a very big loss...you cannot find a human being like him easily."

"He was a villain only when the camera got rolling...otherwise, he’d always keep us laughing with his ready wit,"

"In ‘Nenjam Marappadillai,’ he plays a really old man...the makeup would take hours together, but he would be extremely patient. His skin was flawless and almost pink...he took great care of his health."

"Nambiar swami was responsible for taking most of us in the industry to Sabarimalai"

"I have acted with him in several films. He would be very jovial and enthusiastic on the sets. When one worked with him, one forget the burden of work. He was very fond of me and I always had great regard and respect for him. His passing away is a great loss indeed."

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