Last updated

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
Relatives Travancore 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 most notably with Mammootty.

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 Radhika 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. Malayalam movie star Mammootty had expressed his grief at her death. 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

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
2000 Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Chalachitra Ratnam Award Malayalam
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
Trivandrum Film FraternityMalayalam
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 appeared in various print features, audio-visual endorsements, online promotions, commercial public campaigns etc.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Malayalam cinema</span> Indian Malayalam-language film industry

Malayalam cinema is the segment of Indian cinema dedicated to the production of motion pictures in the Malayalam language, which is widely spoken in the state of Kerala, India. In 1982, Elippathayam won the Sutherland Trophy at the London Film Festival, and Most Original Imaginative Film of 1982 by the British Film Institute. The film Marana Simhasanam has won the prestigious Caméra d'Or at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Travancore sisters</span> Trio of Indian actresses, dancers, and performers

Travancore Sisters refers to the trio of Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini who were actresses, dancers and performers in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Kannada films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Manju Warrier</span> Indian actress (born 1978)

Manju Warrier is an Indian actress, who works predominantly in Malayalam cinema.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ranjith (director)</span> Indian film director, screen writer, producer and actor

Ranjith Balakrishnan is an Indian film director, screenwriter, lyricist, producer, and actor who works in Malayalam cinema. Ranjith made his directorial debut in 2001 with Ravanaprabhu, the sequel to Devaasuram. His films Thirakkatha and Indian Rupee won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam in 2008 and 2011 respectively. He is also the current chairman of Kerala State Chalachitra Academy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shoba</span> Indian actress (1962–1980)

Mahalakshmi Menon, best known by her stagename Shobha, was an Indian actress best known for her work in Malayalam and Tamil films. At the age of 17, she won the National Film Award for Best Actress for her role in the 1979 Tamil film Pasi. She also received three Kerala State Film Awards: for Best Actress (1978), Best Supporting Actress (1977) and Best Child Artist (1971); and two Filmfare Awards South for Best Actress in Kannada (1978) and Tamil (1979) films. Considered one of the finest talents to have emerged in the Indian film world, her promising career was unexpectedly cut short as she committed suicide in 1980, due to unknown reasons. Her popularity resulted in considerable public scrutiny of the events that led to her death and also various conspiracy theories. The 1983 Malayalam film Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback is supposedly based on her life and death.

Urvashi is an Indian actress, dubbing artist, television host, scriptwriter and film producer known for her works in the Southern film industry, predominantly in Malayalam and Tamil films. In a career spanning over four decades, she has won one National Film Award, five Kerala State Film Awards, three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and two Filmfare Award South respectively. Known for her distinct style of acting, she is widely regarded as one of the finest actors in Malayalam and Tamil cinema.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mammootty filmography</span> List of performances by Indian actor Mammootty

Mammootty, is an Indian actor and film producer who works predominantly in Malayalam films. He has acted in more than 400 films in Malayalam and other languages including Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, English and Kannada films. He has starred in both art house and blockbuster films.

<i>Twenty:20</i> (film) 2008 film by Joshiy

Twenty:20 is a 2008 Indian Malayalam-language action thriller film written by Udayakrishna-Siby K. Thomas, directed by Joshiy, produced and distributed by Dileep through Graand Production and Manjunatha Release. The film stars Mohanlal, Mammootty, Suresh Gopi, Jayaram and Dileep. The film was produced on behalf of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) as a fundraiser to financially support actors who are struggling in the Malayalam cinema. All the actors in AMMA worked without payment in order to raise funds for their welfare schemes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parvathy Thiruvothu</span> Indian actress (born 1988)

Parvathy Thiruvothu Kottuvattaa is an Indian actress prominently known for her work in Malayalam language films alongside few Tamil language films. Her notable accomplishments include receiving a National Film Award, four Filmfare Awards South, two Kerala State Film Awards and one Kerala Film Critics Association Award.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aranmula Ponnamma</span> Indian actress

Aranmula Ponnamma was an Indian actress known for her roles as mother of the protagonist in numerous films in a career spanning over five decades. She is widely described as a mother figure in Malayalam cinema. In 2005, she was honoured with the J. C. Daniel Award, Kerala government's highest honour for contributions to Malayalam cinema.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Padmini (actress)</span> Indian actress (1932–2006)

Padmini Ramachandran was an Indian actress and trained Bharatanatyam dancer, who acted in over 250 Indian films. She acted in Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu and Russian language films. Padmini, with her elder sister Lalitha and her younger sister Ragini, were called the "Travancore sisters".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lena (actress)</span> Indian actress, author, scriptwriter (born 1981)

Lena Kumar, who has performed mononymously as Lenaa and Lena, is an Indian actress, author, and scriptwriter who appears predominantly in Malayalam cinema. In a career that spans over 25 years, Lenaa has worked in over 175 films in 5 languages, including blockbusters as well as critically acclaimed films in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mallika Sukumaran</span> Indian actress (born 1954)

Mohamallika Pillai, better known as Mallika Sukumaran is an Indian actress and businesswoman, known for her works in Malayalam cinema. She debuted in 1974 with the Malayalam film Utharayanam by G. Aravindan. Since then, she has appeared in over 60 films. She won the Kerala State Film Award for Second Best Actress for her role in the 1974 film Swapnadanam.

Priyanka Nair is an Indian model-turned-actress who predominantly works in the Malayalam film industry. She made her debut in the Tamil film Veyyil in 2006. She gained critical acclaim for her roles in Bhoomi Malayalam, Vilapangalkappuram and Jalam.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lalitha (actress)</span> Indian actress and dancer

Lalitha was an Indian actress and dancer. She was the eldest of the "Travancore Sisters"—Lalitha, Padmini, and Ragini. She started her acting career in the 1948 Tamil film Adhithan Kanavu and has acted in movies of different Indian languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. She entered films before her sisters, concentrating more on Malayalam films, and was mostly cast in vamp roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">C. S. Venkiteswaran</span> Indian film critic and writer

Venkiteswaran Chittur Subramanian is an Indian film critic, professor, documentary filmmaker, writer and occasional subtitler from Chalakudi, Kerala, India, who writes predominantly in English and Malayalam. He won the National Film Award for Best Film Critic in 2009 and shared the National Film Award for Best Arts/Cultural Film with M.R. Rajan for directing the documentary film, Pakarnattam in 1995.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nazriya Nazim</span> Indian actress, producer (born 1994)

Nazriya Nazim is an Indian actress, producer and former television presenter who works predominantly in Malayalam and Tamil language films. She has won One Filmfare Award South, Two Kerala State Film Awards, and One Tamil Nadu State Film Award respectively.

Alencier Ley Lopez is an Indian film and theatre actor, who appears in Malayalam films. Lopez made his debut in the 1998 film Daya; and he worked in films like Annayum Rasoolum (2013), Njan Steve Lopez (2013), and Maheshinte Prathikaaram (2016).


  1. Kumar, P. K. Ajith (27 March 2013). "Sukumari – Timeless roles, priceless acting". The Hindu . Archived from the original on 29 May 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  2. "Actor Sukumari succumbs to burns". The Hindu. 26 March 2013. ISSN   0971-751X. Archived from the original on 13 June 2021. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  3. Article – The Hindu [usurped]
  4. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  5. "National Film awards winners 2010". Bada Screen. 19 May 2011. Archived from the original on 5 September 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  6. 1 2 "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 Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  9. "സുകുമാരി അന്തരിച്ചു – Latest News – Mathrubhumi". Archived from the original on 26 March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  10. 1 2 Before moving to Chennai, she started learning dance from her Valiyamma Karthyaniyamma. Archived 22 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. 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 . Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  14. "Sukumari, veteran Malayalam actress, dies". The Times of India . Archived from the original on 26 March 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  15. Gopi, Vinod (27 March 2013). "Ammavilikannanju: Sukumari Inni Orma". Malayala Manorama .
  16. "Grief over Sukumari's death". The Hindu . Archived from the original on 28 March 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  17. "Actor Sukumari succumbs to burns". The Hindu . 26 March 2013. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  18. "Actor and Padma Shri awardee Sukumari passes away". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. 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" via YouTube.