When Manjeri Narayan Nambiar usually appeared onscreen, frowning bushy eyebrows, barking out "Peter!" to his evil henchmen and rubbing his hands together in vile anticipation, you were conscious of a shudder of fear. No matter that it was a movie, he was still capable of communicating the worst of what is yet to come with his very eyes.
When he was born on March 7, 1919, no one expected him to end up with such an 'evil' career. Certainly not his family. After losing his father at the tender age of eight, the family wanted him to pursue other gainful occupations. But Nambiar's heart was captivated by the art of drama -- he joined the Nawab Rajamanickam drama troupe when he was just 13.
Life handed him Bhaktha Ramadas in 1935 but it was abundantly clear that his forte clearly lay in terrorising others. Gaining a swift, yet steady among the viewing public with movies like Velaikkari (1949) and Mandhiri Kumari (1950), he even played several roles as a forerunner to Kamal Haasan in Dhigambara Saamiyar (which won rave reviews), Thirudathe (1961), Arasilankumari (1961) and Nenjam Marapathillai (1963). But his best and most vicious performances were yet to come.
Text: Pavithra Srinivasan
Also See: Tamil film villian M N Nambiar dead