Malayalam News

Sivan, Veteran Malayalam Cinematographer and Director, Dies At 89

Sivan, the National Award-winning director and cinematographer, died of cardiac arrest on Thursday in Thiruvananthapuram. 


He was 89.

Sivan’s sons, Sangeeth Sivan and Santhosh Sivan, are also filmmakers.

Sharing the news of his demise on social media, his son Sangeeth Sivan wrote, “It’s with great sadness that I share with you all the tragic news that my father, Mr Sivan, breathed his last today. He was our inspiration and role model. What he accomplished was achieved through hard work, dedication, discipline and foresight. Forever indebted and you will always be in our hearts.”

Sivan was born as Sivasankaran Nair in 1932 to Gopalapillai and Bhavaniamma Sivan in Haripad in Kerala. He began his career as a still photographer. He set up his photo studio at Thiruvananthapuram Statue Junction called Sivan Studios in 1959 and was the first government press photographer in Travancore. Later, he began his career in the Malayalam film industry as a cinematographer and director. 

Sivan worked as a still photographer for the classic Malayalam film Chemmeen in 1965.

His directorial work includes Abhayam, the 1991 Malayalam children’s film produced by the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI). The film featuring Madhu, Parvathy, Tarun Kumar, Ramachandran, Kottayam Santha, Raghavan and Baby Ambili won the National Award in the best children’s film category and was later dubbed in Hindi as Main Phir Aaunga.

In 2009, Sivan directed another children’s film titled Keshu, which won National Award and Kerala State Award. 


Sivan’s film Yagam (1982) is a recipient of the Kerala State Award, ONV Kurup Award and National Award. Oru Yathra, Kochu Kochu Mohangal and Kilivathil are some of his other prominent works. 

According to a PTI report published on Outlook, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan mourned the demise of the filmmaker and said, “Sivan was well-known in the movie industry especially for his cinematography skills. His ‘Sivan studio’ at Thiruvananthapuram was a popular gathering spot for many prominent cultural icons.”

Kerala Assembly Speaker MB Rajesh said that Sivan was quite active in the cultural sphere of the state capital and added, “As the first press photographer in Thiruvananthapuram, he captured many historic moments.”

Several artists from the Malayalam film industry, including actors Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manju Warrier, musician Jebin George Sebastin and cinematographer Madhu Ambat, took to their social media handles to pay tribute to the late filmmaker.

Madhu Ambat, mourning the demise of Sivan, wrote on Facebook, “In my early career, he was a great support. I used to use his Mitchel Camera for most of my movies (the picture shows me with his camera). He had a stills studio called Sivan’s Studio in Trivandrum. Whenever I was in Trivandrum during those days, I used to spend hours with him. Those were cherished days in my life.”

Sivan is survived by his children Santosh Sivan, Sangeeth Sivan, Sanjeev Sivan and Sarita Rajiv.