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M N Nambiar – The Legendary Villain of Tamil Cinema

Posted by Saipradeep on November 20, 2008


The 19th of November 2008 is indeed a black day in Tamil Film industry. Shri. M. N. Nambiar, the 88 year old veteran actor passed away due to age related illness on this date. 

Many ardent movie watchers have always been and will always be hardcore fanatics of great movie heroes. But I am one of those exceptions who has fallen for a villain. Right from the days when I started watching the yesteryears movies, I have been awed by this legend’s acting style. I have watched many movies in which he has acted and somehow this soft spoken, God loving, always smiling person seem to fit very aptly into the roles of a treacherous villain, a murderous enemy or a dangerous criminal. He brought so much life into his villain roles that in his peak days, I learnt that he was hated from heart by many MGR and Sivaji fans. So terrifying was his acting that his name is eponymous with Kollywood villain. His mannerism and acting styles have been so unique that they have been attempted by many actors and mimicry artists just to display “villanism”.

M.N Nambiar is a versatile actor. Born on March 7th, 1919, he started his acting career at the age of 13 by joining Nawab Rajamanikam’s drama company. His first movie stint in the silver screen was in the year 1935 when he played the role of a villain for the movie “Baktha Ramadoss” which released in Hindi and Tamil. Though he worked as a Hero for a few movies initially, he turned out to be better or else great as a villain. He has appeared and theretened movie watchers in “Aayirathil oruvan”, “Mandiri Kumari”, “Adimai Pen”, “Engal Veetu Pillai”, “Nenjam Marapadhillai”, “Padagotti”, “Uthama Puthiran”, “Raja Raja Cholan” and many more. He has acted over a 1000 films across various languages that include Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. He also played a role in “Jungle”, an English movie directed by William Burke.

I believe that he is the only actor to have been on screen across any film industry for over six decades, acting with over seven generations of actors ranging from veteran actor Balaiya to Bharathiraja’s son Manoj. He also ran a drama troupe, Nambiar Nataka Mandram and staged two plays, “Kaviyin Kanavu” and “Kalyana Supermarket”.

His favourite films remained `Aayirathil Oruvan’ with MGR, `Ambikapathi’ with Sivaji Ganesan, `Missiyamma’ with Gemini Ganesan, `Nenjam Marappathillai’ directed by Sridhar and `Thooral Ninu Pochu’ with Bhagyaraj. This film with Baghyaraj made him do many other character roles. His last film was “Swadesi” a Vijayakanth starrer. Another film which is unforgettable in the list of Nambiar movies is `Thigambarasamiyar’ where he did 11 roles. He also acted as hero in a few films two of which are `Kalyani’ and `Kavitha’ produced by Modern Theatres.

M. N. Nambiar was an ardent devotee of Swami Ayappan and has visited Sabarimala for over 65 years. His long association with the shrine led to him being called Maha Guru Swamy and he has taken many film stars including Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth, Amithab Bachchan to the temple. 

 M. N. Nambiar is no more, but he will be remembered by everyone who follows the history of Tamil film industry. He will remain in the memories of all movie fans as the “Original Villain” of the Tamil film industry. May his soul Rest in Peace!!!.



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