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Born Manuel Sathyaneshan
(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 Latin Rite
Spouse(s) Jessy Sathyan
Children Prakash, Sathish, Jeevan
Parents Manuel, Emily

Manuel Sathyaneshan (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 every 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.


Early life[edit]

Sathyan was born to a Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) family in the town of Nagercoil in Southern Travancore on 9 November 1912 as the first child of Cheruvilakathu Veettil Manuel and Emily.Sathyan was married to Jessy, and was blessed with three sons named Prakash, Satheesh and Jeevan.Daughter-in-law,Annamma Jeevan, and Grand Daughter,Asha Jeevan Sathyan. 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.

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[3]

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. Sathyan rendered memorable performances even at the height of his serious disease. Sathyan's commitment to acting remains without parallels even four decades after his demise. The throne emptied by Sathyan will ever remain unoccupied.

Accolades and legacy[edit]

Sathyan as Sreeni in the film Yakshi

Sathyan was the first prominent actor to be considered a superstar in Malayalam film industry after Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair.[4] 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.[5] 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:[6]

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.[7] 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:[8]


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 and this year also we honour a great talent of the Indian screen.

  • Winners: K.J.Yesudas, Kalabhavan Mani,Murali, Thilakan, Balachandra Menon, Madhu, Sheela, Nedumudi Venu (2006),[20] K. S. Chithra (2007),[21] Dileep and so on.....we present momento, cerificate and 25000rs/- as award for the awardees.....

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

  • Winner: Innocent (2007)[22]

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


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sathyan_(actor) — Please support Wikipedia.
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3 news items

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

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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 ...

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