Kerala’s ‘screen mother’
Ponnamma dies at 96

(Our Correspondent)
Filed on February 22, 2011

TRIVANDRUM - Aranmula Ponnamma, the quintessential mother and grandmother of Malayalam cinema, passed away on Monday.

The 96-year-old actress, who was hospitalised for more than a week following a bone fracture, died at a private hospital here around 6pm, according to family sources. She is survived by two daughters. Her body will be cremated at Shanthi Kavadam here in the evening on Tuesday.

Ponnamma, who made her debut as an actress in a play at the age of 29, acted in more than 500 films in her long career spanning more than six decades. She made her entry into the film world in 1950 with the film Sasidharan, in which she played mother of late actress Miss Kumari.

With a few other mother roles, Ponnamma got soon typecasted in mother roles and emerged as the most favourite on-screen mother of Malayalam movie audience.

She played the roles of mother or grandmother of super stars of all generations like Prem Nazir, Sathyan, Madhu, Ummer, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi etc. She acted her last four films with Suresh Gopi, who incidentally is the husband of her grand daughter.

Her last film was Janadipathyam (1997), in which she donned the role of Suresh Gopi’s mother. Her famous films are Puthukottyile Puthu Manavalan, Sindoora Rekha, Akashadoothu, Advaitham, Oru Sayahnathinte Swapnam and Achuvettante Veedu. She won the state and national awards for best supporting actress for her performance in Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s film Kathapurushan (1995). Ponnamma is the only lady artist to be facilitated with J.C. Daniel Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Born at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district on March 22, 1914, she started her artistic career at the age of 12 as a Carnatic music vocalist. At the age of 15, she was appointed as a music teacher in a primary school.

Later she joined the first batch of students at the Swati Tirunal Music Academy and after completing the course was appointed as the music teacher in the Cotton Hill Girls’ High School in Trivandrum.

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