Not all Malayalam cinema viewers can perhaps easily place Unnikrishnan Namboothiri by his name, but the 98-year-old had melted hearts with his toothless grin and affectionate grandfather roles for decades together. On Wednesday, the actor, known most for his role as the funny and romantic grandfather in Kalyana Raman, passed away, a day after he recovered from COVID-19.
Unnikrishnan had contracted the coronavirus infection and had received treatment at a private hospital in Kannur. Though on Tuesday it had been reported that he had recovered from the infection, he was rushed back to the hospital on Wednesday after his health suffered a setback. He died at the hospital. Noted lyricist Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri is his son-in-law.
Unnikrishnan began acting in the late 1990s with the critically acclaimed movie Deshadanam, directed by Jayaraj. He acted in a number of Malayalam movies between then and 2014. Some of the notable roles came in Oral Mathram, Kaliyattam, Kaikudanna Nilavu, Madhuranombarakattu, Rappakal, and Pokkiri Raja.
Although he predominantly worked in Malayalam films, one of Unnikrishnan Namboothiriâ€™s notable outings in Tamil was Kandukondain Kandukondain, in which he played Aishwarya Rai and Tabuâ€™s bedridden grandfather who is unable to communicate to his family to get the will, in which he had not included them, changed.
In Kalyanaraman, he played the grandfather who develops romantic feelings for an elderly woman, played by Subbulakshmi and then claims to his grandson that they â€śare just friends.â€ť
In Kaikudanna Nilavu, he played the loving grandfather of Jayaram, who understands the sacrifice the grandson goes through to save a friend.
Unnikrishnan also acted as Kamal Haasanâ€™s grandfather in the movie Pammal K Sambandam. He played the role of Kamal Hassanâ€™s grandfather who suffers a cardiac arrest and dies after his grandsonâ€™s engagement is called off.
Unnikrishnan was born in Payyanur and got married to Leela Antharjanam from Palakkad. One of his sons is Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, judge, Kerala High Court. His other children are Bhavadasan, Devi and Yamuna.
Watch a scene from Kalyanaraman with Unnikrishnan Namboothiri