M. N. Nambiar

Manjeri Narayanan Nambiar (7 March 1919 – 19 November 2008) was an Indian actor who worked predominantly in Tamil cinema, known mostly for his villain roles in an eight decade long career. He has also appeared in a few Malayalam films.

M. N. Nambiar
M. N. Nambiar.jpg
Manjeri Narayanan Nambiar

7 March 1919
Cannanore, Malabar, British India (present-day Kannur, Kerala, India)
Died19 November 2008(2008-11-19) (aged 89)
Other namesUthama Villan, Gurusamy
Spouse(s)Rukmani Amma
  • Kelu Nambiar
  • Manjeri Kalyani Amma

He appeared in many MGR movies as a villain. Some of the famous ones include Nallavan Vaazhvan, Enga Veettu Pillai, Aayirathil Oruvan, Naalai Namadhe, Padagotti, Thirudathe, En Annan, Kaavalkaaran and Kudiyirundha Koyil.

Early lifeEdit

Manjeri Narayan Nambiar[1] was born on 7 March 1919 at Kandakkai near Mayyil in Cannanore (Kannur) in North Malabar region of Kerala. He was the son of Kelu Nambiar and Manjeri Kalyani Amma. While he was still a child, his father died. He later moved to live and study in Ooty with his elder sister and brother-in-law.[2] He became interested in acting when he was 13 and he joined Nawab Rajamanikkam's troupe. He learnt discipline here which is according to him the major life skill at Madurai Bala nada vinodha kana sabha. From then on acting became the only thing that occupied him. His first film was Bhaktha Ramadoss, shot in 1935 in Hindi and Tamil, where he played as a comedian along with T.K.Sampangi.

Film careerEdit

Though he started as a hero, Nambiar soon started donning the role of a villain — so much so that today his name is synonymous with villainy in Kollywood. Nambiar has worked with seven generations of actors. His first pay was Rs.3 with Boys Company. He would retain Rs.1 and send Rs.2 to his mother. A man of very limited needs, he has never eaten food not cooked by his wife, Rugmini Nambiar.

He made quite a statement in the early 50s with his portrayal of 11 roles in Digambara Samiyar, one of his films as the Lead. His arresting performance in films such as Manthiri Kumari, Velaikaari, Ayirathil Oruvan, Thillana Mohanambal, Missiyamma and Nenjam Marappadillai paved way for a very successful career that spanned over five decades.[3]

A majority of the more than 1000 films that he has done is in Tamil, though he has acted in Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi, besides an English film `The Jungle' (with Rod Cameron, the film's hero, directed by William Burke) in which he appears in a few brief scenes. The film was released in 1952. The Hindi film he acted in was a remake of the Tamil Kanavane Kankanda Deivam. After becoming popular in Tamil films he started his own drama troupe called Nambiar Nataka Mandram. They staged two plays — `Kaviyin Kanavu' and a comedy play `Kalyana Supermarket.'

M.N.Nambiar was that rare contradictory personality - a cruel, charming villain on the silver screen while being a very pious man in real life. He was also a pure vegetarian and teetotaler. He was also an ardent devotee of Sabarimala Sri Ayyappan. He has had a long association with the temple, and visited the shrine more than 65 times over the last half a century; this has led to him being called Maha Guruswamy. His colleagues noted that he died during the famous Sabarimala season and it may be due to the blessing of his Lord.[4]

His favourite films remain `Aayirathil Oruvan' with MGR, `Ambikapathi' with Sivaji Ganesan, `Missiyamma' with Gemini Ganesan, `Nenjam Marappathillai' directed by Sridhar and `Thooral Ninu Pochu' with Bhagyaraj. This was the film that made him do character roles, something that he continued to do till his death. He also acted as hero in two films `Kalyani' and `Kavitha' produced by Modern Theaters. He has done stage, films and also acted on TV dramas like 'Oviyam' and Velan. When it comes to acting, he supposedly likes all the actors; but of special mention are M. R. Radha and Savitri. Both, in his opinion, were brilliant in their own way.

Partial filmographyEdit

Year Film Language Role
1935 Bhaktha Ramadas Tamil
1946 Vidyapathi Tamil
1947 Rajakumaari Tamil
Kanjan Tamil
1948 Abhimanyu Tamil
Mohini Tamil
1949 Velaikaari Tamil
1950 Manthiri Kumari Tamil Rajaguru
Digambara Samiyar Tamil
1951 Marmayogi Tamil
Sarvadhikari Tamil
1952 Kalyani Tamil
Jungle English
1953 Petrathai Tamil
Kanna Talli Telugu Shankar
Azhagi Tamil
1954 Mangalyam Tamil Gopi
1955 Guna Sundari Tamil
Doctor Savithri Tamil
Pennarasi Tamil Minister
Kaveri Tamil
1956 Tenali Raman Tamil Kannan
1957 Amara Deepam Tamil Sukumar
Makkalai Petra Magarasi Tamil Kannan
Rajarajan Tamil
Mayabazar Tamil Shakuni
Thangamalai Ragasiyam Tamil King Adithan
Ambikapathy Tamil
Pathini Deivam Tamil
1958 Uthama Puthiran Tamil Naganathan
Nadodi Mannan Tamil
Illarame Nallaram Tamil
1959 Bhaaga Pirivinai Tamil Mani
Thanga Padhumai Tamil Baladevar
Kalyana Parisu Tamil
1960 Raja Bakthi Tamil General
Veerakkanal Tamil
1961 Thirudathe Tamil
Arasilangkumari Tamil
Pasamalar Tamil Rathnam
Naaga Nandhini Tamil
Then Nilavu Tamil
Nallavan Vazhvan Tamil
1962 Raani Samyuktha Tamil
Nichaya Thamboolam Tamil
1963 Panathottam Tamil
Nenjam Marappathillai Tamil
Needhikkuppin Paasam Tamil
Parisu Tamil
Annai Illam Tamil
1964 Thaayin Madiyil Tamil
En Kadamai Tamil
Vettaikkaran Tamil
Padagotti Tamil
Thozhilali Tamil
1965 Aasai Mugam Tamil
Enga Veetu Pillai Tamil
Kalangarai Vilakkam Tamil
Thazhampoo Tamil
Aayirathil Oruvan Tamil
1966 Thali Bhagyam Tamil
Nadodi Tamil
Naan Aanaiyital Tamil
Petralthan Pillaiya Tamil
Parakkum Pavai Tamil
1967 Kaavalkaaran Tamil
Vivasayee Tamil Pannaiyar Velupandiyan
1968 Harichandra Tamil
Thirumal Perumai Tamil
Lakshmi Kalyanam Tamil Suruttu Sundaram Pillai
Ragasiya Police 115 Tamil
Kudiyirundha Koyil Tamil Bhoopathy
Pudhiya Bhoomi Tamil
Enga Oor Raja Tamil Rajangam
Thillana Mohanambal Tamil Maharaja of Madhanpur
1969 Anbalippu Tamil
Kaaval Dheivam Tamil Ananth
Gurudhatchanai Tamil
Anjal Petti 520 Tamil
Deiva Magan Tamil
Sivandha Mann Tamil
1970 En Annan Tamil
Thalaivan Tamil
Raman Ethanai Ramanadi Tamil
Paadhukaappu Tamil
1971 Thangaikkaaga Tamil
Kulama Gunama Tamil
Oru Thaai Makkal Tamil
Praptham Tamil
Savaale Samali Tamil
1972 Kurathi Magan Tamil
Naan Yen Pirandhen Tamil
Dharmam Engey Tamil
Idhaya Veenai Tamil
Raman Thediya Seethai Tamil
Kannamma Tamil
1973 Rajaraja Cholan Tamil
Ponnunjal Tamil
Pattikaattu Ponnaiya Tamil
Ulagam Sutrum Valiban Tamil
Rajapart Rangadurai Tamil
1974 Thaai Tamil
Urimaikural Tamil
Netru Indru Naalai Tamil
Sirithu Vazha Vendum Tamil
1975 Mannavan Vanthaanadi Tamil
Pallandu Vazhga Tamil
Ninaithadhai Mudippavan Tamil
1976 Satyam Tamil
Needhikku Thalaivanangu Tamil
1977 Meenava Nanban Tamil
Indru Pol Endrum Vaazhga Tamil
1978 ThacoliAmbu Malayalam
Punniya Boomi Tamil
Vayasu Ponnu Tamil
Varuvan Vadivelan Tamil
1979 Avesham Malayalam Shekhar
Pancharatnam Malayalam
Nadagame Ulagam Tamil
Mamankam Malayalam
Thirisoolam Tamil
1980 Chandra Bimbam Malayalam
Arangum Aniyarayum Malayalam
Ratha Paasam Tamil
Shakthi Malayalam
Guru Tamil
1981 Garjanai Tamil
Kolilakkam Malayalam
Thadavara Malayalam
1982 Chilanthivala Malayalam Shekhar
Thooral Ninnu Pochu Tamil
Parvaiyin Marupakkam Tamil
1983 Thai Veedu Tamil
Dowry Kalyanam Tamil
Sandhippu Tamil
Saatchi Tamil
1984 Naan Mahaan Alla Tamil
Vetri Tamil
Vaazhkai Tamil
Simma Soppanam Tamil
1985 Needhiyin Nizhal Tamil Krishna Prasad
Thanga Mama 3D Tamil
Eetti Tamil
Puthiya Theerpu Tamil
1986 Karimedu Karuvayan Tamil
Nambinar Keduvathillai Tamil
Mella Thirandhathu Kadhavu Tamil
1987 Vilangu Tamil
Velundu Vinaiyillai Tamil
Jallikattu Tamil
Uzhavan Magan Tamil
1988 Thappu Kanakku Tamil
Thambi Thanga Kambi Tamil Thyagu
Nallavan Tamil
1989 Paattukku Oru Thalaivan Tamil
Meenakshi Thiruvilayadal Tamil
1990 Pulan Visaranai Tamil
Paattali Magan Tamil
Paalam Tamil
Avasara Police 100 Tamil
1991 Sami Potta Mudichu Tamil
Enga Ooru Sippai Tamil
Captain Prabhakaran Tamil
Maanagara Kaaval Tamil
1992 Chembaruthi Tamil
Thai Mozhi Tamil
Annai Vayal Tamil
Kaviya Thalaivan Tamil
1993 Yejaman Tamil
Ezhai Jaathi Tamil
Sakkarai Devan Tamil
Gentleman Tamil
Nallathe Nadakkum Tamil
Thanga Pappa Tamil
1994 Sethupathi IPS Tamil
Paasamalargal Tamil
Periya Marudhu Tamil
1995 Karuppu Nila Tamil
1998 Poove Unakkaga Tamil
Ramudochadu Telugu
1997 Vallal Tamil
1998 Moovendhar Tamil
Poonthottam Tamil
1999 Endrendrum Kadhal Tamil
Rojavanam Tamil
Pooparika Varugirom Tamil
2001 Sharja To Sharja Malayalam
Vinnukkum Mannukkum Tamil
2002 Varushamellam Vasantham Tamil
Baba Tamil Baba's maternal uncle
2003 Relax Malayalam
Anbe Anbe Tamil Mahendra Bhoopathy
Winner Tamil Velayutham
2004 Arasatchi Tamil
2005 Anbe Aaruyire Tamil
2006 Sudesi Tamil


  • Alaigal as Father (Acha)
  • Velan
  • Oviyam
  • The TV serial Avalukkendru oru idam in Doordharshan Madras is his first Television debut. The television serial produced by Lakshmi and Lakshmi Creations fetched him the Mylapore Academy Award 1991 for Best Actor in Character Role.


Nambiar suffered from bacterial infection and died at his residence in Chennai on 19 November 2008. He was survived by his wife Rugmini Amma, 2 sons — one, a senior BJP leader Sukumar Nambiar, and the other, Mohan Nambiar, a prominent businessman based in Coimbatore and a daughter, Sneha Nambiar. His eldest son Sukumar Nambiar died on 8 January 2012 aged 63 and later , his wife Rugmini Amma also died on 11 April 2012 aged 82.


"If there was anyone who could act with both the top heroes (Sivaji Ganesan and M. G. R.) of Tamil cinema then, it was Nambiar. At one point, directors could not think of anyone else but him to play villain."

"This is a very big loss...you cannot find a human being like him easily."

"He was a villain only when the camera got rolling...otherwise, he’d always keep us laughing with his ready wit,"

  • K. Raman (Make-up man) :

"In ‘Nenjam Marappadillai,’ he plays a really old man...the makeup would take hours together, but he would be extremely patient. His skin was flawless and almost pink...he took great care of his health."

"Nambiar swami was responsible for taking most of us in the industry to Sabarimalai"

"I have acted with him in several films. He would be very jovial and enthusiastic on the sets. When one worked with him, one forget the burden of work. He was very fond of me and I always had great regard and respect for him. His passing away is a great loss indeed."


  1. ^ "rediff.com: An Ode to M N Nambiar". specials.rediff.com. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  2. ^ Mohan V. Raman (16 November 2010). "Reel villain, real hero". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". The Hindu. 29 September 2000. Archived from the original on 11 October 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "A handsome villain". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 20 November 2008. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2010.

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