Aranmula Ponnamma, the matriarch of Malayalam cinema is no more.
A voyage that saw her play the role of mother or grandmother to generations of actors like Thrikurishi Sukumaran Nair to Satyan, Prem Nazir, Madhu and third generation actors like Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi, who happens to be the husband of her granddaughter.
She passed away at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday (February 21) evening. Ponnamma (96) was the "epitome of goodness as the screen mother" in over 500 films in a period of nearly 60 years.
Being born in an orthodox family at Aranmula in 1914, her entry into the world of theatre and then film as an actress was accidental. Her first film was Sasidharan, released in 1950. Although she was only 36 years of age then, she was cast as the mother of the heroine in the film, played by Miss Kumari, a prominent actress of that period.
Says Sukumari veteran actress who also played mothers role in many films: "Ponnamma Chechi was the greatest screen mother in Malayalam cinema. In all her films she played the good mother on screen and has
never done a role with negative shades. For example all of us have played the cruel mother-in-law , or even bad mother on screen but somehow Ponnamma chechi always played the ideal good mother."
In her career spanning over 60 years, she acted as the mother or grandmother of veteran actors in over 500 films. In the sentimental super hit School Master, she won a lot of acclaim. She won the National award in 1995 for best supporting actress for her role in Kathapurushan. She was conferred with the JC Daniel Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2006, by the Kerala Government.
Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, in a condolence message, said that the contributions of Aranmula Ponnamma to Malayalam cinema will be remembered for ever. The body will be laid for the public to pay their respects at the Tagore Theatre at Vazhuthacaud in Thiruvananthapuram today (Feb 22). The cremation will take place around 5 p.m. at Santhikavadam at Thycaud in the city.