Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair was a famous poet, playwright, scenarist, lyricist, orator, film director and actor in Malayalam, though he is best known as an actor. He is the recipient of Padmashri from the Government of India, which is one of the highest civilian honours in India. In a career that spanned about 47 years, he acted in over 700 films.
Sukumaran Nair was born on 16 October 1916 in the village of Thikkurissy, then a part of Travancore. Thikkurissy, the village is now in Nanchinadu, Kanyakumari district, Tamilnadu. He was born in an aristocratic family to Mangat C. Govinda Pillai and N. Lekshmi Amma. He was proved a good writer and orator even when he was schooling in Marthanda Varma School. He wrote his first poem at the age of 8 and his poem was published for the first time whe he was 14 in Dhakshina Bharathi. His poems were collectively published as a book named Kedavilakku when he was 20. His parents wanted him to secure a government job, but he launched his career in writing and arts even before he completed his studies. Incidetly, his sister L. Omanakkunjamma was the first female magistrate in India and the first female I. A. S. officer from Kerala.
He launched his career as a playwright. His plays Mareechika and Kalakaran were hugely successful. He then went on to write 3 more plays tilted Sthree, Maya and Sariyo Thetto which revolutionised the professional play scenario in Malayalam. He replaced the melodramatic romantic musicals that ruled the roost till then, with dialogue centred prose plays having themes of realism and social importance. He entered into the Malayalam film industry in 1950, which was at its early years with only about 10 films produced till then. He debuted in the film industry with the film adaptaion of breakthrough play Sthree with the same title. He produced the film and played the pratogonist as well. But, the film failed to make much impact at the box-office, the film scene in Kerala then being ruled by Tamil and Hindi films. Thikkurussy's next film Jeevithanauka(1951), produced by K and K Productions and directed by K. Vembu was a turning point in Malayalam film history. The film which dealt with the theme of ego clashes in a joint family was a big commercial success and is being touted as the first superhit in Malayalam film history. The success of the film also made Thikkurissy the first superstar of Kerala. Jeevithanauka was dubbed into 4 languages including Hindi. In 1952, he acted in Navalokam with a socially significant theme along with Miss Kumari, who would later become the pet of the masses after the success of Neelakkuyil(1954). Navalokam did not make it big at the box office, but Thikkurissy cemented his superstardom with a big hit in the same year. The film titled Visappinte Vili also had Prem Nazir, then a novice. Thikkurissy was the person who coined Prem Nazir's screenname whose actual name was Abdul Khader. In 1953, another landmark film of his titled Sariyo Thetto was released. The film was a film adaptation of his play in the same name. The film had him handling the story, screenplay, dialogues, lyrics and dircetion departments besides playing the pivotal role. With that Thikkurissy established himself as an inseparable element of Malayalam film industry. He was credited with lyrics, screenplay and direction in many films. The 13 films for which he was the lyricist includes Sthree, Palunku Paathram, Devasundari, Urvashi Bharathi, Poojapushpam and Balloon. He wrote story and screenplay for the films Swami Ayyappan, Muthalali and Aana Valarthiya Vanampadi. He directed the films Sariyo Thetto, Poojapushpam, Achante Bharya, Palunkupathram, Saraswati, Nurse and Urvashi Bharathi. His major acting ventures are Jeevithanauka, Navalokam, Visappinte Vili, Iruttinte Atmavu, Swayamvaram, Umma, Bhakthakuchela, Nadi, Thulabharam, Maya, Abhijathyam, Surveykkallu, Avanazhi and Aryan.
Thikkurissy married 3 times in his life. His first wife was Sarojini Kunjamma, who belonged to an eminent family in Karuvatta, Alappuzha. They couple has 2 daughters. The first one, Shyamala Devi Kunjamma alias Lekha is an executive engineer in Eranakulam. Their second daughter Geethambika Kunjamma is a housewife in Pujappura, Thiruvananthapuram. After parting ways with his first wife, Thikkurussy married play actor Ambalapuzha Meenakshy Amma. The couple had a son name Rajahamsan, who now lives in Chennai. The second marriage also didn't last long and Thikkurussy got married to K. Sulochana Devi, who was a singer and dancer. This marriage however was successful and lasted 41 years till his death. Thikkurissy had a daughter from this marriage named kanakasree. She, like her father was interested in poetry and took name as a good poet. Thikkurussy had a personal tragedy when Kanakasree died due to an accident Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair passed away on 11 March 1997 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala due to kidney failure.