Malayalam News

KS Sethumadhavan, Veteran Malayalam Screenwriter and Director, Dies at 90

KS Sethumadhavan, the veteran screenwriter and director who predominantly worked in the Malayalam film industry, died at his residence on Friday morning.


The 90-year-old had been suffering from age-related ailments for some time.

Sethumadhavan was born to Subrahmanyam and Lakshmi in Palghat, in the erstwhile Madras Presidency, in 1931. He graduated in Biology from Government Victoria College, Palakkad. In the initial years of his film career, Sethumadhavan assisted directors like K Ramnath and LV Prasad, ASA Swamy and Sunder Rao.

In 1960, he made his independent directorial debut with a Sinhalese film titled Veeravijya. Following this, he directed Gnana Sundari (1961), which marked his debut in Malayalam. Sethumadhavan directed over 60 films. Some of his classic Malayalam films include Odayil Ninnu, Achanum Bappayum, Yakshi, Ara Nazhika Neram, Panitheeratha Veedu, Punarjanmam, Anubhavangal Palichakal and Oppol.

He notably introduced actor Kamal Haasan in Malayalam as a child artiste in the 1962 film Kannum Karalum.

Apart from Malayalam, Sethumadhavan also worked on Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi films. His Tamil film Marupakkam (1991) and Telugu film Stri (1995) both won National Film Awards.

The legendary filmmaker was a 10-time National Film Award winner. He also won nine Kerala State Film Awards, of which four were in the best direction category for the films Ara Nazhika Neram (1970), Karakanakkadal (1971), Pani Theeratha Veedu (1972), and Oppol (1980).

In 2009, he was bestowed the JC Daniel Award, the Kerala government’s highest honour in Malayalam cinema. Sethumathavan was also a recipient of the Chalachitra Ratnam award from the Kerala Film Critics Association in 2011.

Between 1975 and 1980, he served as a jury member for the National Film Awards and in 2002, he served as the chairperson. In 1982, he chaired the jury for the Kerala State Film Awards.

He is survived by his wife Valsala Sethumadhavan and children Santosh, Uma and Sonukumar. Several artists from the Malayalam film industry took to social media to pay tribute to the late director, including actor Mammootty.

Condoling the demise of the director on Twitter, Kamal Haasan said, “KS Sethumadhavan, who has created timeless epics on screen, was the originator of new wave cinema. He was instrumental in setting the standards of Malayalam cinema. He will always be remembered for his artistic achievements.”

Actor Mohanlal took to Facebook and said the late filmmaker led Malayalam cinema through the path of change and brought literature closer to this art form. 


Filmmaker Sangeeth Sivan noted that Sethumadhavan was his father Sivan’s friend. Sangeeth further said that the late director was one of his earliest idols and added that Sethumadhavan’s film, Oru Penninte Katha, remains etched in his memory to this day. “I can still remember the film vividly. Can’t forget the superb performances of Sathyan Master and Sheela in that film. Met him last at his Chennai home. Such a simple and humble personality. He had a great innings and I am sure he is in a better space now. Thank you uncle for all the learning and memories,” he wrote.

Actor Radha Nair shared her condolences on Twitter. Noting that she was fortunate enough to work with Sethumadhavan on Marupakkam, she added, “The legacy you left behind will forever be with us.”