Unnikrishnan Nampoothiri, 98, the beloved ‘grandfather’ of Malayalam cinema, passed away at Payyannur on Wednesday. Nampoothiri, whom director Jayaraj referred to as “a pious Brahmin and an equally pious Communist”, breathed his last at 6.15pm at the Payyannur Cooperative Hospital. Belonging to the Vadhyar Illam of Pullur, he was suffering from post-Covid health issues and was admitted to the hospital after his health deteriorated on Wednesday morning.
Earlier, he was under treatment for pneumonia at a private hospital in Payyannur, and later at a Kannur hospital for a week.
During hospitalisation, he tested Covid positive. After beating the virus and testing negative, he was discharged last week. Nampoothiri forayed into the world of movies at the age of 74 through Jayaraj’s critically acclaimed Desadanam in 1996, with the role of a grandfather making him popular.
He went on to act in around 25 more films, including Kalyanaraman, Chandramukhi, Madhuranombarakkattu and Pammal K Sambandham. Nampoothiri won hearts through his affable way of acting and his prudent behaviour. He is the father-in-law of lyricist Kaithapram Damodaran Nampoothiri. CM Pinarayi Vijayan said the veteran actor’s death is a great loss to the world of art.
Personal loss for me: CM condoles actor’s death
“This is a personal loss for me and the void he leaves in the cultural arena wouldn’t be filled easily. His confidence and his thirst for acting had helped him create a special place for himself in Malayalam cinema. A fellow traveller of CPM, Unnikrishnan Nampoothiri had a close relationship with the party,” Pinarayi said. The funeral will be held on Thursday at 11am at his ancestral house at Korome. He is survived by children Bhavadasan (retd bank manager), P V Kunhikrishnan (additional judge, Kerala High Court), Devaki and Yamuna. Director Jayaraj said there was no better words to describe him than “a pious Brahmin and an equal ly pious Communist.”
“I met him during a function at Kaithapram’s house in the mid-nineties. I was looking for a person to handle the role of the grandfather in Desadanam. I saw all the required qualities of that particular character in him. Kaithapram told me that it was his father-in-law. When I asked him if he would act, he agreed readily,” Jayaraj told TNIE. The director said, while casting him, he was unaware that Nampoothiri – who was then the tantri of the Vadhyar family- had once worked in the Indian Air Force. “After Desadanam, he became popular. The major reason was that he had all the features of a grandfather whom we all like to have in our homes – a loving and caring persona. He was also a strong believer in the Communist ideology,” he said.