Abdul Khader (April 7, 1926 - January 16, 1989), popularly known as Prem Nazir was a Malayali film actor. He is considered as one of the all time superstars in Malayalam cinema. He is referred to as Nithya haritha nayakan (Ever green hero).
Prem Nazir is considered to be the biggest star in Malayalam film history. He holds two Guinness records, one for playing opposite the same heroine (around one hundred and ten films), (Sheela) and the other for the lead role in over 700 films. The nation honored him with the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.
Nazir was born in Chirayankeezhu in the princely state of Travancore, to Akkode Shahul Hamid and Asuma Beevi. His mother died when he was very young. He completed his formal education from Kadinamkulam Lower Primary School, Sri Chithiravilasam School, S D College (Alappuzha), and Saint Berchman's College (Changanassery). By the time he completed his education, he had become an experienced drama artist. It was on the sets of his first movie that Abdul Khader was renamed Prem Nazir by Thikkurussi Sukumaran Nair.
Prem Nazir's brother Prem Nawaz (Abdul Wahab) also acted in a few films. Although he was the first in the family to begin acting in movies, he later began producing films - Agniputhri, Thulaavarsham, Poojakku Edukatha Pookkal, Neethi and Keni to name a few. Prem Nawaz's only son, Prem Kishore has also had a stint with the industry by acting in two Malayalam films - Vacation and Thaskaraputran. Prem Nawaz has the distinction of acting in the first ever colour film made in Malayalam - Kandam Vechu Kottu. Prem Nazir's son Shahnawaz acted in a few films as well but could not succeed like his father.
Prem Nazir has three daughters viz. Laila (married to Engineer Rashid of Trivandrum & settled at Calicut), Rasiya (married to Mr.Hashim, Businessman from Kannur & settled at Chennai) - both elder to Shanawas. The youngest daughter is Rita (married to Doctor Sharafuddin of Punalur & settled at Muscat). Shanawas's wife Aisha (Malaysia) is the daughter of the eldest sister of Prem Nazir viz. Suleikha Beevi.
Nazir started acting for the Excel company and most of his films were for the Udaya and Merryland Studios. His first film was "Marumakal", produced by Paul Kallungal. In 1979, 39 of his films got released; a record. He also holds the record for having acted in the most leading roles - about 700 films (with 85 heronies). Another record is for the most enduring screen team along with actress Sheela. They played opposite each other in 130 movies by 1975. His association with playback singer K. J. Yesudas was perfect for the audience. Even today many consider the Nazir - Yesudas combination of song sequences remains the best ever on screen. He is quite popularly described as Nithyaharithanayakan (The Evergreen Hero), which do justice to the fact that he was acting as the hero in his elder years as well.His last film was Dhwani.
He won the Kerala State Special Jury Award in 1981. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1983 by the President of India in recognition of distinguished services of a high order to the nation in his field (acting). The Prem Nazir Award was initiated in his memory, in 1992, for excellence in contributions to the Malayalam Cinema Industry. Nazir also wrote a book on the film characters he essayed, Enne Thediyetha Kathapatrangal.
Many consider the role of Bhranthan (Mentally ill) Velayuthan in the film Iruttinte Atmavu (The Soul of the Darkness) as his masterpiece. Written by M. T. Vasudevan Nair,the film provided Malayalam cinema with a new direction; that of the low budget film. One could see a lot of the pre-occupations of the scenarist, who carried the touches of human relationships through all of his subsequent films whether as screenplay writer or director. In spite of its large number of studio shots and overall theatricality, the film was so culturally rich that many of the episodes would become archetypes for future Malayalam film makers dealing with family drama. It depicted the story of an imbecile (finely portrayed by Prem Nazir) in a joint family with remarkable sensitivity and seriousness of purpose. He tried his hand in politics and had joined the Congress Party but he never contested elections.