Birth – 6th October 1940
Death – 26th March 2013
Sukumari was the Veteran South Indian film actress, who had primarily acted in Malayalam and Tamil films. She is one among the few actors, who was in the film field for more than 60 years. She began her career at the age of ten. In a career spanning more than five decades, she acted more than 2000 films in the South Indian languages. Besides Films, She has also acted in TV serials and stage dramas. The actor had received the Padma Shri award from the president and also has received various awards and honors.
Born on 6th October 1940 in Nagercoil in Tami Nadu to Madhavan Nair and Satyabhama Amma. She left to Chennai along with her First cousins the famous Travancore sisters Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini and mastered dance forms like Keralanadanam, Kathakali and Bharathnatyam. She also had done stage shows along with the Travancore sisters . Initially she learned dance from the Indian dancer Guru Gopinath. She was also interested in Singing.
From the age of seven, she has become the part of the troupe “Dancers of India” founded by the Travancore sisters. She travelled with them and had done stage shows all over India , Ceylon , Singapore and Malaysia, to perform the Indian dance forms. Later she became part of the Mrs Radha Sulochana’s dance troupe and Kuchalakumari’s dance troupe.
Being the First Cousin of the Legendary Travancore sisters, Padmini, Ragini and Lalitha was one big reason for her entry into the dance and cine world. As a toddler she used to visit the film sets with her cousins. It was her visit to the sets of a film in which Padmini was acting, which opened the doors to the world of cinema. The director Neelakandan, at the set noticed her and offered her a role in Tamil film “Oriravu” . He cast her in his film after watching her dance performance. She was only 10 years when she debuted in films. This time she was also active as theatre artist and used to do small roles along with Ragini in Y G Parthasarathy’s drama troupe. Later this stage relation gave opportunity to her to become the most prominent actor and member of the satirist and political commentator Cho Ramasamy’s Theatre group Named “Vedika fine Arts” .
From a very young age itself she started to play the matured characters and gained popularity . She has acted with M.G.R, Jayalalitha, & Sivaji Ganeshan in Tamil and with N.T.R in Telugu films.
She did her film debut through the Tamil film “Oriravu” . She has done a long dance sequence in the film. It is in the film “Thaskaraveeran” which got released in 6 language she played the major role. The same year she acted in Malayalam film “Koodapirappu” . She also acted in various Malayalam films of the black and white age and later in new films like “Chettathi” , “kusruthikkuttan” , “Kunjali Marakkar” , “Thacholi othenan”, “Yakshi “ and “Karinizhal” . Later she got noticed by acting humorous roles in various films of Priyadarshan like “ Poochakkoru Mookuthi” , “ Oodarathammava aalariyam” , “Boeing Boeing” , and “Vandanam”. In later years she played a notable role in the film directed by Balachandra Menon and Adoor gopalakrishnan.
She married the famous Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi director producer Bhim Singh. He died in 1978. T he couple has a son Suresh . She is survived by her son Suresh, daughter- in- law Uma, and grand son Vignesh. She also has four brothers and one sister.
On 27th February2013, her dress caught fire while lighting a lamp in the Pooja room at home and has hospitalized after sustaining burns in her hand and body. She was treated in a private hospital in Chennai. She had suffered 40% burn injuries. Both her kidneys were dysfunctional and were undergoing dialysis. The doctors who treated her said that she had recovered from the burn injuries. But she passed away on 26th March 2013, following a cardiac arrest. While she was in hospital treating for the burns, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalitha visited her in hospital.