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Born Manuel Sathyaneshan Nadar
(1912-11-09)9 November 1912
Nagercoil, Travancore
Died 15 June 1971(1971-06-15) (aged 59)
Madras, Tamil Nadu, India
Resting place Thiruvananthapuram LMS Compound
Other names Sathyan Master,Sathyan Mash
Occupation Actor, police inspector, soldier (Viceroy's Commissioned Officer), clerk, school teacher
Years active 1951-1971
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Jessy Sathyan
Children Prakash, Sathish, Jeevan
Parent(s) Manuel, Emily

Manuel Sathyaneshan Nadar (9 November 1912 – 15 June 1971) commonly known by his stage name Sathyan, was an Indian film actor known for his work in Malayalam cinema.He is considered as the toughest actor ever in the Malayalam film industry personally and professionally and respectfully called as 'Sathyan Master' by Malayalam film stars. He has won the Kerala State Film Award [1] twice and was renowned for his versatile acting skills. He is remembered for introducing and pioneering the realistic and natural style of acting in Malayalam cinema.


Personal life[edit]

Sathyan was born to a Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) family in Thrikkannapuram , Nagercoil in Southern Travancore on 9 November 1912 as the second child of Cheruvilakathu Veettil Manuel and Emily. He has five siblings named Late Kunjamma, Chellayya, Neshan, Devadas and Jacob.[2] Sathyan passed the Vidwan exam, equivalent to Master of Arts before joining Saint Joseph's School, Trivandrum as a teacher. After some time, he got job as a clerk in the Kerala Secretariat and worked there for about a year. He joined the army in 1941 and got posted as a Commissioned Officer of the Viceroy of India. He served the British army in Manipur, Burma (now Myanmar) and British Malaya (now Malaysia) during the World War II period. After finishing his term in the army, he returned home and joined the then Travancore State Police as a police inspector. During the communist riots in 1947–1948, Sathyan was the inspector at Alappuzha North Police Station.

Sathyan was married to Jessy. They have three sons named Prakash, Satheesh and Jeevan. Daughter-in-law,Annamma Jeevan, and Grand Daughter,Asha Jeevan Sathyan.

Entry to films[edit]

Sathyan's entry into the field of acting started during his tenure as the police officer. At that time he acted in several amateur plays and that experience made him more interested in acting. His entry to film industry was accidental. He got introduced to a film musician Sebastian Kunjukunju Bhagavathar during his tenure as Inspector in Alappuzha North Police Station. The musician introduced Sathyan to various film personalities and one producer promised to cast him in a film; however, Sathyan did not get any calls from the producer. Sathyan came to know about a film that Kaumudi Chief Editor K. Balakrishnan was planning. He met Balakrishnan and the latter was impressed by Sathyan. Balakrishnan cast him as the protagonist in the film written and produced by him, titled Thyagaseema. Sathyan resigned from his job with the police to concentrate in acting and shortened his name to Sathyan from Sathyaneshan . However, the film was never released. That was in 1951.

Film career[edit]

Rise to stardom[edit]

In 1952, Sathyan' first film got released. The film was titled Athmasakhi and it earned him recognition in the industry.[3] Sathyan rose to fame with the legendary Neelakkuyil (1954). The film was also a milestone in Malayalam film history. It was the first film to have an authentic Malayalam story.[4] The film was written by renowned literary figure Uroob and directed by Ramu Karyat-P. Bhaskaran duo. The songs in the film written by P. Bhaskaran and set to tunes by K. Raghavan were superhits. The film became the first Malayalam film to win national recognition when it was awarded the Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus Award). The film's success at the box office raised Sathyan and his co-star Miss Kumari to stardom.[4]

Peak time[edit]

Sathyan's career was influenced by great directors like K. S. Sethumadhavan, P. Venu, A. Vincent and Ramu Karyat. Sathyan's roles in various films directed by K. S. Sethumadhavan like Pappu in Odayil Ninnu, Jayarajan in Daham, Prof. Sreeni in Yakshi (first psychological thriller in Malayalam) and the pratogonist in Vazhve Mayam were well appreciated.Sathyan's other major performances include those in Udhyogastha, Snehaseema, Nairu Pidicha Pulivalu, Veettu Mrugam, Mudiyanaya Puthran, Bharya, Shakuntala, Kayamkulam Kochunni, Adimakal and Karakanakadal. His famous title character 'Othenan' in the film Thacholi Othenan became highly popular among the masses. His role in Chemmeen, the poignant love story set against the background of the coast of Alappuzha did not win him the best actor award for the year, but is one of the most popular roles of his career. He acted in over 150 Malayalam films and two Tamil films.

Sathyan won the first Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor in 1969 for the double role in Kadalpalam.

Final films[edit]

Vazhve Mayam, Anubhavangal Paalichakal, Karakanakadal which won high critical acclaim were among his final films. Other releases were Bhikara Nimishankal, Aranazhikaneram and Oru Penninte Katha (as Madhavan Thambi). He was posthumously awarded the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor in 1971 for his performance in Karakanakadal. He was one of the superstars in the history of Malayalam industry who died during the peak of his career and at the height of popularity (a scenario that would ironically repeat itself nearly a decade later with Jayan).


Sathyan died of blood cancer after fighting it for 10 years on 15 June 1971 at Madras.[citation needed]

Accolades and legacy[edit]

Sathyan as Sreeni in the film Yakshi

Sathyan was a prominent actor to be considered as a superstar in Malayalam film industry after Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair.[5] and Prem Nasir. During the late 1950s and the whole of the 1960s, he and Prem Nazir formed a bipolar industry with a considerable number of films starring at least one of them.[6] He won the inaugural Kerala State Film Award for best actor in 1969 & again posthumously in 1971. He is also the most critically acclaimed lead actor in Malayalam cinema due to the originality in performance and his natural acting style.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Kerala State Film Awards:[7]

Film Film Awards:

  • 1969: Adimakal

Acting style and influence[edit]

Sathyan began his acting career at a time when Malayalam cinema was in its early stage of development and dominated by actors from the stage with a drama style. During his time, Sathyan introduced and pioneered a realistic behavioural style of film acting which changed the industry forever and has been influencing new age film actors ever since.[8] The roles played by him became popular for their manly characteristics and he had a more masculine screen image in contrast to others like Nazir who had a romantic image. The emphasis on masculinity triggered off by roles played by him would later create a wave of future lead actors with manly screen images.

Popular roles[edit]

Below are a few of the most popular & critically praised characters played by Sathyan:[9]


Awards established in his name[edit]

Sathyan National Film Award (Sathyan Foundation): An award instituted by the "Sathyan Foundation" a charitable organization formed with the basic objective of perpectuating the memory of veteran actor Sathyan by his children. The prestigious "Sathyan National Film Award" is presented annually to an eminent personality of Indian cinema. Memento, cerificate and 25000rs/- are given as award for the awardees.

  • Winners: K.J.Yesudas, Kalabhavan Mani,Murali, Thilakan, Balachandra Menon, Madhu, Sheela, Nedumudi Venu (2006),[10] K. S. Chithra (2007),[11] Dileep and Sharada (2013).

Sathyan Award: An award instituted by the Kerala Cultural Forum. The award carries a sum of Rs. 10000 and a plaque.

  • Winner: Innocent (2007)[12]

Sathyan Memorial Film Award: An award instituted by the Sathyan Memorial Arts and Sports Club. The award is given in various fields including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Anti-Hero, Best Comedian, Best Newcomer and Best Singers (male and female), taking the last year's performances into consideration.


  1. Lakshyam (1972)
  2. Akkarapacha (1972)
  3. Agnimrugam (1971) -guest role
  4. Kuttyedathi (1971) .... Appunni
  5. Thettu (1971).... Johny
  6. Sarasayya (1971).... Dr. Thomas
  7. Anubhavangal Paalichakal(1971).... Chellappan
  8. Panchavankaadu (1971)...Ananda Kurup
  9. Moonnupookkal (1971)
  10. Shiksha (1971).... Surendran
  11. CID In Jungle (1971)
  12. Karakaanaakkadal (1971)
  13. Oru Penninte Kadha (1971)
  14. Karinizhal (1971)
  15. Vimochanasamaram (1971)
  16. Kalithozhi (1971)
  17. Kurukshethram (1970)
  18. Sthree (1970)
  19. Aranaazhikaneram (1970).... Mathukkutty
  20. Nishaagandhi (1970)
  21. Ammayenna Sthree (1970)
  22. Dathuputhran (1970)...Kunjachan
  23. Bheekara Nimishangal (1970)..... Mancheri Raghavan
  24. Cross Belt (1970).... Rajasekharan Nair
  25. Othenante Makan (1970)... Othenan Kurup
  26. Ningalenne Communistaakki (1970)...Paramu Pilla
  27. Thriveni (1970)
  28. Kalpana (1970)
  29. Kuttavaali (1970) .... Kedi Krishnan
  30. Thaara (1970).... Balakrishna Pilla
  31. Nilakkaatha Chalanangal (1970)
  32. Vazhve Mayam (1970) .... Sudhindharan Nair
  33. Vivaahitha (1970).... Ashok
  34. Veettu Mrugam (1969)
  35. Sandhya (1969)
  36. Kadalppaalam (1969)...Narayana Kaimal, Raghu (double role)
  37. Urangatha Sundari (1969) .... Vikraman Kartha
  38. Adimakal (1969) .... Appukuttan
  39. Velliyaazhcha (1969).... Ravi
  40. Mooladhanam (1969).... Ravi
  41. Chattambikkavala (1969)
  42. Koottukudumbam (1969)
  43. Kaattukurangu (1969)
  44. Vilakkappetta Bandhangal (1969)
  45. Kuruthikkalam (1969)
  46. Aparaadhini (1968)
  47. Manaswini (1968)
  48. Agnipareeksha (1968) .... Dr.Mohan
  49. Yakshi (1968)...Sreenivasan
  50. Velutha Kathreena (1968) .... Chellappan
  51. Thokkukal Kadha Parayunnu (1968)
  52. Kaliyalla Kalyaanam (1968)
  53. Pengal (1968)
  54. Vazhi Pizhacha Santhathi (1968)
  55. Midumidukki (1968)
  56. Kaarthika (1968).... Kunju
  57. Sahadharmini (1967)
  58. Thalirukal (1967)
  59. Khadeeja (1967)
  60. Mainatharuvi Kolakkes (1967)
  61. N. G. O. (1967)
  62. Swapnabhoomi (1967)
  63. Kaavaalam Chundan (1967)
  64. Sheelaavathi (1967)
  65. Anweshichu Kandethiyilla (1967)
  66. Udhyogastha (1967)
  67. Postman (1967)
  68. Ollathumathi (1967)
  69. Chekuthaante Kotta (1967)
  70. Naadan Pennu (1967)
  71. Ashwamedham (1967)..... Thomas
  72. Kudumbam (1967)
  73. Pavappettaval (1967) .... Gopi
  74. Arakkillam (1967)
  75. Rowdy (1966)
  76. Anarkali (1966)..... Akbar
  77. Thilothama (1966)
  78. Tharavaattamma (1966).... Gopi
  79. Station Master (1966)
  80. Kallippennu (1966)
  81. Kayamkulam Kochunni (1966)...Kochunni
  82. Pakalkkinaavu (1966)
  83. Jail (1966)
  84. Koottukaar (1966)
  85. Thommante Makkal (1965)
  86. Chemmeen (1965) .... Palani
  87. Shakunthala (1965)
  88. Daaham (1965) .... Jayaraj
  89. Kadathukaaran (1965)...Ramu
  90. Inapraavukal (1965)
  91. Shyaamala Chechi (1965)
  92. Devatha (1965)
  93. Odayil Ninnu (1965) .... Pappu
  94. Chettathi (1965) .... Premachandran
  95. Kaattuthulasi (1965)
  96. Ammu (1965)
  97. Aadyakiranangal (1964).... Kunjukutty
  98. Aayisha (1964)
  99. Omanakkuttan (1964)
  100. Manavaatti (1964)
  101. Anna (Old) (1964)
  102. Thacholi Othenan (1964)...Thacholi Othenan
  103. Kalanjukittiya Thankam (1964).... Sugathan
  104. Pazhassiraaja (1964)
  105. Check Post (1964)
  106. Aashaachakram (1963)
  107. Rebecca (1963)
  108. Nithyakanyaka (1963)
  109. Doctor (1963) .... Rajendran
  110. Ammaye Kaanaan (1963) .... Chandran
  111. Moodupadam (1963)
  112. Kadalamma (1963)
  113. Baalya Prathijna (Purusharathnam) (1962)
  114. Akkarappacha (1962)
  115. Kalippaava (1962)
  116. Paalaattu Koman (Konkiyamma) (1962)
  117. Bhaagyajaathakam (1962)
  118. Laila Majnu (1962)
  119. Vidhi Thanna Vilakku (1962)
  120. Sreekovil (1962)
  121. Puthiya Akasam Puthiya Bhoomi (1962) .... Sukumaran
  122. Kannum Karalum (1962)
  123. Viyarppinte Vila (1962)
  124. Bhaarya (1962)
  125. Krishnakuchela (1961)
  126. Arappavan (1961).... Vettukaaran Ramu
  127. Mudiyanaya Puthran (1961).... Rajasekharan Pilla
  128. Unniyarcha (1961)...Aromal Chekavar
  129. Minnalppadayaali (1959)
  130. Chathurangam (1959)
  131. Nairu Pidicha Pulivaalu (1958)..... Chandran
  132. Lilly (1958)
  133. Minnunnathellaam Ponnalla (1957)
  134. Achanum Makanum (1957)
  135. Thaskaraveeran (1957)
  136. Deva Sundari (1957)
  137. Avar Unarunnoo (1956)
  138. Kaalam Maarunnu (1955)
  139. Neelakkuyil (1954)..... Sreedharan Nair
  140. Snehaseema (1954).... Johny
  141. Aashadeepam (1953)
  142. Lokaneethi (1953)
  143. Thiramaala (1953)
  144. Aathmasakhi (1952)
  145. Thyaagaseema (1951) (unreleased film)


  1. ^ "STATE FILM AWARDS 1969 - 2001". Information and Public Relation Department of Kerala. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  2. ^ "മഹാനടന്റെ ഓർമയുമായി കുടുംബങ്ങഗൽ ഒത്തുചേര്ന്നു". marunadanmalayali.com. 2015-08-30. Retrieved 31 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "Sathyam Sundaram- Sathyan- 40 years down memory lane". manoramaonline.com. 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  4. ^ a b malayalamcinema.com: Cinema History
  5. ^ "40 years since the throne became vacant- Sathyan- 40 years down memory lane". manoramaonline.com. 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  6. ^ The Hindu: Sathyan award to actor Nedumudi Venu
  7. ^ "Sathyan enna prathibha". manoramaonline.com. 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  8. ^ "Sathyan memories turn 40". Manorama. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  9. ^ "Sathyan- 40 years down memory lane". manoramaonline.com. 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  10. ^ The Hindu: Sathyan award presented
  11. ^ The Hindu: Sathyan award for K.S. Chitra
  12. ^ malayalamcinema.com: News

External links[edit]

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5 news items

The Hindu

The Hindu
Sat, 06 Nov 2010 08:36:20 -0700

How it happened. My father, 'Mathampatti' Sivakumar, has produced five films of which Chinna Thambi Periya Thambi and Thainadu became hits. At that time, I was very small and didn't know much about films. Despite having my father in the industry, I ...

The New Indian Express

The New Indian Express
Mon, 11 Nov 2013 22:22:30 -0800

When Malayalam cinema observed the 101st birth anniversary of its legendary hero Sathyan on Saturday, Asha Jeevan Sathyan celebrated the legacy of her grandfather, whom she has never seen. Ace actor Sathyan's only granddaughter has been quite ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Sun, 05 May 2013 04:17:54 -0700

The Malayalam novel Anubhavangal Palichakal, written by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and first published in 1966, was a best seller. In 1971, M. O. Joseph came up with the film version of the novel under the banner of Manjilas. The film was a huge hit.

The Hindu

The Hindu
Fri, 25 Jan 2013 06:06:38 -0800

Actor Lakshmi's phone has not stopped ringing ever since her Telugu film Mithunam released. And, she's still taking in all the congratulatory notes. “I'm glad I was approached for the film; the minute I listened to the story, I wanted to do it. It's a ...


Wed, 13 Jun 2012 05:56:39 -0700

Trivandrum: The legend who set the tone for realistic acting in Malayalam cinema and scintillated on screen for two decades through his classic films is being honoured at the Sathyan Film Festival held in the city from June 11. This festival is being ...

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