Legendary Malayalam filmmaker KS Sethumadhavan dies at 90

Director Sethumadhavan made path-breaking Malayalam movies such as ‘Odayil Ninnu’, ‘Achanum Bappayum’, ‘Anubhavangal Palichakal’ and ‘Oppol’.
KS Sethumadhavan
KS Sethumadhavan
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The maker of such classics of Malayalam cinema such as Odayil Ninnu, Adimakal, Achanum Bappayum, Aranazhikaneram and Oppol, director KS Sethumadhavan, died on the morning of December 24, Friday. He was 90 years old and not keeping well for some time, and reportedly died due to age-related ailments at his home in Chennai.

A recipient of numerous National and State film awards, Sethumadhavan directed over 60 movies in five languages during his career, which began in the early 1960s and spanned many decades. Notable works of the director include many with legendary actor Sathyan such as Yakshi, Anubhavangal Palichakal, Vazhvemayam and Kadalpalam.

Many of Sethumadhavan’s movies are considered landmark and path-breaking. Odayil Ninnu told the story of a rickshaw puller called Pappu (Sathyan) who begins to take care of a poor child and her mother but once the child grows up, she is embarrassed by him. Achanum Bappayum saw a Hindu family raise an orphaned Muslim child; the movie came with the iconic song ‘Manushyan mathangale shrishtichu / Mathangal daivangale shrishtichu’ (Man created religions / Religions created gods) by Vayalar.

Yakshi was about a man’s fascination with a woman he suspects is a ghost and Oppol was about a young woman who gives birth to a child as a teenager and raises him as a brother. Chattakkari told the story of an Anglo-Indian woman falling in love with a Hindu man.

Many of his films were adaptations of iconic books – Odayil Ninnu was written by P Kesava Dev, Ara Nazhika Neram by Parappurathu, Anubhavangal Palichakal by Thakazhi and Yakshi by Malayattoor. Venal Kinavukal, a 1991 movie about the lives of teenage men based on the script of Jnanpith laureate MT Vasudevan Nair, was his last work in Malayalam.

Besides Malayalam, Sethumadhavan directed movies in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi.

Born in 1931 in the northern Palakkad district of Kerala, he entered tinsel town as an assistant director to K Ramnath. After launching himself as an independent filmmaker through the Sinhalese movie Veeravijaya (1960), he directed his first Malayalam film Jnana Sundari.

It was Sethumadhavan who introduced legendary actor Kamal Haasan as a child actor in Malayalam in the movie Kannum Karalum and in the lead role with his film Kanyakumari.

Sethumadhavan received the JC Daniel Award, the highest honour in the film sector instituted by the Kerala government, in the year 2010. He is survived by his wife Valsala and three children.

(With PTI inputs)

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