Malayalee film director J. Sasikumar passes away at age 86

Directed 141 films over the course of 29-year career.

By The American Bazaar Staff

BANGALORE: Legendary Malayalee film director J. Sasikumar passed away on Thursday in a hospital in the Kerala city of Kochi; he was 86 years old.

A scene from Sasikumar's 1975 film 'Picnic'
A scene from Sasikumar’s 1975 film ‘Picnic’

Born Nambiathuseril Varkey John, he adopted the professional name Sasikumar and made his first film in 1964 – Kudumbini, which he co-directed with P.A. Thomas. The film was well-received, and earned a Certificate of Merit at that year’s National Film Awards.

Over the course of his nearly 30 year-long career, Sasikumar directed a staggering 141 films, which still stands as a world record that, in all likelihood, will not be broken anytime soon. For an idea of just how prolific Sasikumar was, in the year 1977 alone, he directed 15 films.

He also holds the record for casting an actor the most number of times – 84, which is the number of times he cast Prem Nazir. Other actors that worked with him several times include Sathyan, Jayan, Madhu, Sukumaran, Soman Mammootty, and superstars Mohanlal and Kamal Hassan.

He stopped directing in 1993, with the film Dollar. His most famous and well-remembered films include Ethikkara Pakki, Sethu Bandhanam, Attakkalasam, Thuruppu Gulam, and Saghakkale Munottu. He also did some acting from time to time, and worked on the story, screenplay, and dialogues for several of his pictures.

Although he was out of the filmmaking game for over 20 years, he was never out of people’s minds. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious J.C. Daniel Award by the Kerala State Government, for his contributions to the state’s film industry, both creatively and commercially.

Condolences and tributes came from all corners of social media, most notably from Shashi Tharoor, who tweeted “Veteran Malayalam filmmaker J. Sasikumar (86), who made 141 films, passed away today. RIP.”

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