Skip to main content

A Humble Tribute to Malayalam Cinema's Sukumari


Like Malayalis across the world, I too was deeply shattered by the passing away of Sukumari, one of Kerala's most versatile actresses. She breathed her last at a Chennai hospital two days ago. As an actress, Sukumari had the kind of passion and dynamic presence besides brilliant acting skills that made people enjoy all her performances spanning over five decades. 


Her performances were so natural and memorable that she added considerable substance and depth to the story line itself.  She had the audacity to make every one of her characters, including the bland and bad ones, stand out as striking and memorable. Her dialogue delivery, her sense of humor and flawless timing struck a chord with Malayalis spanning all ages and walks of life. 

About Sukumari
A bit of info about this fine actress: Sukumari was born in 1940 in Nagercoil. She made her debut into the world of Malayalam cinema as a child artist at the age of ten. 
She was the first cousin of the legendary Travancore sisters - Padmini, Ragini and Lalitha. She was well versed in dancing but she swung to different realms within the cine field. 
Across the years, she strengthened her position in the Malayalam film industry as one of the most versatile supporting actresses  donning various roles as comedienne, mother and so on. She acted in more than 2,500 films and her name is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of films she acted in. In 2003, she was conferred Padmashree. There isn't a single movie that I can remember feeling disappointed by her portrayal of a character. 
About Sukumari's Personality
In the film fraternity, the love and respect for Sukumari is tremendous. Her friendship with Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa, for instance, is well known. News reports continue to mention how Jayalalitha paid a visit to Sukumari in the hospital some days ago and how they shared a deep friendship that went beyond the realm of movies. Reports from the media also mention that Jayalalitha told the doctors to take good care of her because she was a "precious" person. Indeed, she was 'precious' for Malayalis across the world. She made us cry, smile and laugh like no onelse did especially from among the actresses.
Super stars, actors and actresses cutting across several genres, established directors and ardent fans say she was exceptional in the film industry because of her passion for acting and her compassionate nature towards all. Though she had shared screen space with  big stars from the South such as MGR, Sivaji Ganeshan, Gemini Ganeshan, among others, she remained simple in her ways and accessible to all - super stars and budding stars. She is reported to arrive at film sets with an armful of snacks for everyone, offering and sometimes serving food to those on the sets. She is known for her sense of equality - having never discriminated between stars, technicians and so on. While her proximity to super stars was well known, she was accessible to all and behaved with utmost love and generosity to everyone. She saw every one as her own children without any discrimination - a rare quality today, particularly among popular actors and actresses. 
Sukumari's Memorable Movies
Personally I love all the roles that Sukumari portrayed in Balachandran Menon's and Priyadarshan's movies best.  These roles were versatile, vivid and enabled this brilliant artist to showcase her acting skills to movie buffs. 
One of the Malayalam movies that deeply touched me and had me crying several times was Sthreedhanam (meaning: Dowry). While the key actors were Jagdish and Urvashi, the role of Sukumari as the helpless mother of daughters who had to be married off without much dowry was brilliantly portrayed. Her mannerisms, body language, simplicity, quiet pride - all of this beautifully and painfully brought to life the dilemma and agony of a mother of daughters. 
Some of the must-watch movies starring Sukumari in versatile supportive roles are:
1.  Anuragakodathi (Comedy)
2. Poochakkoru Mookkuthi (Comedy)
3.  Boeing Boeing (Comedy)
4.  Panchavadipalam (Comedy)
5. Vandanam (Comedy)
6.  April 18 (Family Drama)
7.  Chiriyo Chiri (Comedy)
8.  Aye Auto (Family Drama)
9.  Kaaryam Nissaram (Family Drama)
10. Sanmanasulavarku Samadhanam (Family Drama)
11. Njanguludey Kochu Doctor (Family Drama)
12. Prashnam Gurutharam (Family Drama)
13. Manicheppu Thurannappol (Family Drama)
14.  Akaashaganga (Horror) 
15. Thenmavin Kombathu (Family Drama)
16. Achuvintey Amma (Family Drama)
There are many many movies that I have missed listing here, not because they are less memorable but because I am unable to recall all her fine movies at one go. These are the ones that remain evergreen in my heart. 
Farewell & a Lesson to Learn
It is difficult to believe that this veteran actress has passed away into another world. We all pray that may her soul rest in peace and may we all learn something from the rich legacy she left behind in life - of looking beyond social statuses and of valuing all relationships without expecting anything in return. 

Comments

Most Popular Posts

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered that I would receive such online abuse for writing this or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience or a perspective, not to insult others.  My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to abuse me because our journeys are entirely different narratives. My life and yours are not the same at any given point of time.

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.A new book 'Ants among Elephants' written by Sujatha Gidla, who writes about herself as being born 'an untouchable in India' teaches you everything you probably want to know abo…

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! 

[DO READ: The POWER OF LOVE]

Earth Angels have amazing superpowers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions and  becoming invisible at will.
[MUST READ: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in …

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

Mahadmrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra nee

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Do read my post: Does Mahamrityunajaya mantra really work?Of course, it does but you need to undertstand the meaning and significance of the mantra first.
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. [ Do READ: THE POWER OF LOVE]
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he becam…

Vidyarambham: How and why Malayalis celebrate writing the words ''Harisree Ganapathaye Namaha"

For Malayalis, Vidyarambham is an auspicious day on which the elders and children mark the day by writing the sacred words, "Harisree Ganapathayeh Namaha." The observance of this ritual may differ from region to region, community to community and family to family. Whatever I share here is based on how vidyarambham is celebrated in my home. 

Vidyarambham: How Malayalis observe this sacred day

In families where the children are gearing up to enter pre-school or play school and are not yet ready to join the formal schooling system, Vidyarambham marks an important occasion for an elder to introduce them to the world of "vidya" or "knowledge." The words ''Harisree Ganapathayeh Namaha" are written on the child's tongue by the grandparent, an elder or parent.  

 [Image credit: Travel Manorama Online ]

Vidyarambham: Why it matters 

An interesting aspect of Vidyarambham ceremony lies in the relationship with the person who is marking the words for the …

Book Review: Mini Sukumaran Nair's B3/703, Gulmohar Park portrays a haunting descent into the vulnerability of childhood

There are books that blaze into your thoughts and here's a book that definitely stayed within me even after weeks of reading it, With its blazing red flower cover, Mini Sukumaran Nair's novel B3/703, Gulmohar Park, caught my attention in a bookshop. As a child, I grew up reading the books of Enid Blyton, RK Narayan and Anita Desai. Mini Sukumaran Nair's refreshing narrative brought back bittersweet memories of those growing up years. Right from the first page, I felt like I could curl up with this heartwarming novel. And just in case you are wondering, this isn't a novel that was sent to me for review nor do I know the author or its publisher. I just loved the book, that's it!


This heartwarming tale of childhood, family drama and tragic upheavals is narrated from the perspective of a little girl called Madhura, whose mother Vani is a maid in the home of an affluent Punjabi family and later on, through the perspective of her mother's employers, Avantika and Siris…

What Bhakti means: Amazing story! This Italian Catholic Girl from Argentina left home to live in Prashanti Nilayam

I have just finished reading Elissa Bressnan's book, 'Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, My Best Friend: SNEHA - The Eight Step in the Path of Devotion.' Written with a real command over the events that began her spiritual journey and weaving it with her personal family details, Elissa's writing is lively, full of innocence and she is at her best when she is talking about her Italian roots and what faith means to many Italians. Elissa is an Italian girl, growing up in Argentina and her family worships Madonna (not the pop star!) and Saint Catherine and Saint Nicola among others. Throughout her early years, her interest in spirituality is evident and she explains it with small examples.



Some events happen in her life and Elissa finds herself in Prashanti Nilayam, where she begins to have faith in Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in every little thing that she does, be it a thought, word or action. 

From then, Elissa's life becomes a joyful celebration of embracing 'Sneha&#…

Gayatri Mantra as Panchamukhi: Get it right or let it go

Most people do not understand the importance of chanting the Gayatri mantra because they are not aware of its power. It is only when I began to read Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings that I learned how sacred and powerful the chanting of the Gayatri mantra is.
The Vedas represent the breath of God. The Gayatri mantra is the very basis of the Vedas. Try not to undertake chanting the Gayatri mantra as a light endeavor or as a hobby. It has to be chanted with faith, discipline and purity of mind and body. Be steady with your sadhana if you want to reap the spiritual dividend associated with the Gayatri mantra  and never once hesitate once you decide to do it.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said that the Gayatri Mantra is referred to as Pancha Mukhi, the Goddess with five faces that represent the five pranas or life forces. Here's more on it.


Chant the Gayatri Mantra correctly: Pause Five Times Here are some important things to keep in mind while chanting the Gayatri mantra:

1. Wh…

Why chant Ramayana during the month of Karkidakam

For Keralites across the world who follow the Malayalam calendar, today marks the beginning of the month of Karkidakam. This month, which, decades ago, was known and slightly feared for its torrential rains and negative impact on the health, wealth and well being of Kerala's rural community. 
Why chant Ramayana during Karkidakam To ward off the negative energy unleashed by Nature and its possible repercussions on one's family's overall well being, the wise elders introduced the timeless tradition of every family reading the Ramayana as an oral, spiritual tradition. Thus, it goes without saying that for Keralites who embrace these traditions, the act of reading the Ramayana is as much a spiritual cleansing as it is a kind of tradition they can pass on to bond with their loved family members, particularly children.
In the Ramayana, there is no 'preaching of principles' but you are taken through the Avatar's journey as a human being. Lord Rama depicts how a man shoul…

Anju Sundarikal Malayalam Movie Review: Dulquar Salman in full throttle, Fahadh Faasil disappoints

Anju Sundarikal, as the title suggests 'Five Beautiful Women,' is a poignant anthology of five short films that celebrate five female protagonists and their tumultous lives. These five films play on different themes and emotions, and on the whole, it is an interesting anthology.

Anju Sundarikal - Sethulakshmi The first film, Sethulakshmi, is a heart-wrenching portrayal of sexual abuse of a small girl whose hobby is to collect newspaper clippings of newly wed couples from newspapers and she embarks on getting a similar photograph taken of herself with her best buddy from school. What appears as an innocent wish is the honeytrap that leads the little girl to understand the meaning of fear. 
Each scene in Sethulakshmi seemed to tear into my heart, particularly in a scene where the photographer's hands and glance linger a tad too obscenely on the innocent, unsuspecting girl whose eyes are filled with fear. There is another scene where she is so frightened that she curls up at the…

Malayalam Movie Review: Rani Padmini asks serious questions but fails to deliver a meaningful impact

I like movies that show strong women. 
I had great expectations from Aashiq Abu's latest Malayalam movie - Rani Padmini. 
The two heroines Manju Warrier and Rima Kallingal demonstrate commendable chemistry despite a poorly paced script and badly written screenplay. 
While Jinu Joseph is impressive as the racer, there is no chemistry with Manju Warrier. The vibes are sangfroid between the two actors. 
The first half of the movie puts you on edge. You keep waiting for a spectacular story but the second half is where the story "begins."  The pace of the film is inconsistent. The 'Ant" story and also the 'paragliding' scenes were stretched to too slow. Then suddenly, the narrative becomes too pacy.
Malayalam Movie Review: Rani Padmini Story The story goes like this: Padmini (starring Manju Warrier)is a Malayali girl married to a Delhi based racing car driver, whose name is Giri (starring Jinu Joseph). The couple love each other but Padmini is like a caged bird und…