Last updated

Sukumari at kollam.JPG
Born(1940-10-06)6 October 1940
Died26 March 2013(2013-03-26) (aged 72)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Years active1946 – 2013
Spouse(s) A. Bhimsingh
(m.1959; died 1978)
ChildrenSuresh Bhimsingh (b.1961)
Parent(s)Madhavan Nair
Sathyabhama Amma
Relatives Travancore family

Sukumari (6 October 1940 – 26 March 2013) was an Indian film actress best known for her works in Malayalam and Tamil films. [1] In a career spanning more than five decades, she acted in over 2,500 films, including in Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Oriya and Bengali. [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.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 (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

Mumbai Taxi

Awards and honours


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 filmsMalayalam
1983 Kerala State Film Awards Second Best Actress Koodevide , Karyam Nissaram MalayalamDr.Susan,Annie
1986 Kerala State Film Awards Second Best Actress Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil MalayalamDevaki
1990 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Kalai Selvam AwardTamil
1991-1992 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Kalaimamani AwardTamil
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 MalayalamAishu
2005 Asianet Film Awards Lifetime Achievement Award Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada
2006 Asianet Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Malayalam
1979Kerala Film Critics AwardBest Supporting Actress Ezhunirangal MalayalamSharada's mother
1982Kerala Film Critics AwardBest Supporting Actress Chiriyo Chiri MalayalamSukumari (Herself)
1985Kerala Film Critics AwardBest Supporting Actress Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil MalayalamDevaki
Kerala Film Critics AwardChalachithra RatnamMalayalam
2000Kerala Film Critics AwardSpecial Award for Contribution to the Film IndustryMalayalam
2011Kerala Film Critics AwardChalachitra PratibhaMalayalam
1967 Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting ActressVarious filmsMalayalam
1974 Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Special Award Chattakkari MalayalamMargarette (Maggie)
1980 Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Best Character ActressMalayalam
1981 Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Best Character ActressMalayalam
1971Films Fans Association Awards – MadrasBest Supporting ActressThoraimugamTamil
1974Films Fans Association Awards – MadrasBest Supporting Actress Chattakkari MalayalamMargarette (Maggie)
1997Prachodanam Award
2000Gulf Malayalee Cine AwardsAll Rounder of the MillenniumMalayalam
2000KSFDCSpecial Facilitation at JubileeMalayalam
2000Lux Asianet AwardSpecial HonourMalayalam
2001Kala Kairali AwardsSpecial Award
2001Dubai Kairali Kala Kendra Association AwardLifetime Achievement Award
2002Bharath Cine AwardsTamil Thirai Ulaga SagapthangalTamil
2003Parvathypadmam PuraskaramLifetime Achievement Award
2004Kerala Woman Beauticians Association: TV Serial AwardBest Character ArtistAvicharithamMalayalam
2005Sangam Kala GroupLifetime Achievement AwardMalayalam
2005Federation of Kerala Associations in North America (FOKANA)Contribution to Malayalam films.Malayalam
2007SICA AwardLifetime Achievement Award
2007P.S. John Endowment Award
2007Malayala Chalachithra ParishadLifetime Achievement AwardMalayalam
2007Ernakulam Press Club AwardLifetime Achievement AwardMalayalam
2007Kala Abu Dhabi AwardKala Ratnam Award
2007Prem Nazir AwardMalayalam
Sathyan Award (Kerala Cultural Forum)Malayalam
2008Mathrubhumi Amrita Film AwardsAmrita Chalachitra Saparya PuraskaramMalayalam
2008Nippon Paints AwardLifetime Achievement Award
2009Telefest Award Best Actress Mizhikal Sakshi MalayalamKooniamma/Nabisa
2009Atlas Critic AwardMalayalam
2009Asia Television U.A.E
2009World Malayalee Council India region & Kairali Channel AwardBest Supporting Actress Mizhikal Sakshi MalayalamKooniamma/Nabisa
2010Gurupranamam, Honour by MACTALifetime AchievementMalayalam
2010Thrissur Jilla Souhruida AwardMalayalam
2011Bahadoor AwardMalayalam
2011Act PuraskaramMalayalam
2012Asiavision TV AwardsMalayalam
Sangeetha, UK AwardAbhinava Puraskaram
Trichur Nagar Sabha AwardJangiya AwardMalayalam
Prashasthi PathramActing with two generation actors in different languages
Kala Kairali, Chennai AwardAbhinaya Bharathi
2001Honour by TVS Victor "Ammayodoppam"
2002Soorya Stage & Film Society HonourFelicitation for Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema
2002Gurupooja, Soorya Festival Special HonourLifetime Achievement
Honour by Kaniyapuram Rail View Residence Association
Pravasa Bharathi Karma Ratna Award
2000Narasimham 175 Days Celebration (Special Honour)
2003Honour by Delhi Tamil Sangam
2005Honour by Jacey Foundation
2005Honour by Amrita TV Film Fraternity Awards
2006Honour by Samskara Samithi
2006Honour by Sree Poonthuruthi Muchilott Bhagavathi Temple
2007Honour by Sangamam show on Amrita TV
2012Honour by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry
2012ICCI Honour
2013Honour by Sundara Sowhrudam
2013Honour by Friends of Arts& Cultural Entertainments (FACE Dubai) - "Thriveni Sangamam"
2013Indiavision Live Poll - Favourite Actress (100 Years of Indian Cinema)Second position


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

See also

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Sukumari filmography

The following is the partial filmography of Sukumari, an Indian actress who began her career at the age of 10 with a minor role in the Tamil film Or Iravu in 1951. In a career spanning more than six decades, had acted in more than 2500 feature films in various Indian languages, including Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Sinhala, Oriya, English and Bengali.


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