Veteran Malayalam actor Sathar passes away: A legacy of powerhouse talent and compassion

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Updated: September 18, 2019 1:49:32 PM

The tributes from the film industry continue to pour in for the actor who was laid to rest on Tuesday.

Sathar, Jayabharathi, 22 Female Kottayam, Malayalam cinema, malayalam film industry, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manju Warrier, Kunchacko BobanSathar has acted in around 144 films mostly in prominent villain and notable character roles.

Veteran Malayalam actor Sathar passed away on Tuesday morning at a hospital in Aluva. The 67 year old actor, who had acted in around 144 films mostly in prominent villain and notable character roles, had been undergoing treatment at a hospital for liver disease. Superstar Mammootty and many prominent names associated with Kerala’s film industry paid tributes to the actor including noted actress Jayabharathy, his former wife, and their son Krish Sathar.

“We knew each other right from the time I joined films. Sathar was already a known name. He has done several notable character roles, especially in the early 70s and 80s. Those were the golden years when he shone as an actor. Even when he fell ill, he did not show any signs and continued to lead a normal, fulfilled life. We were very close. His demise is a personal loss to me as a friend and as an actor,” an emotional Mammootty was quoted as saying by Malayalam news channels.

A striking debut followed by a hero’s role marks the beginning of what seemed to be a blazing career in the Malayalam film industry. Not only did Sathar make his acting presence felt in Malayalam cinema in ‘villain’ roles but he made his mark in Tamil as well.

His debut film in Malayalam ‘Bharyaye Avashamundu’ directed by M.Krishnan Nair. In A. Vincent’s ‘Avaranam’, the Malayali audience witnessed Sathar don the hero’s role. Unfortunately, the film did not do well at the box office and proved to be a setback for the actor in clinching ‘hero’ roles. Thereafter, it was only a matter of time before Sathar became an almost household name because of the series of villainous roles he took up. His love for acting and his powerhouse talent that remained mostly untapped paved the way for Sathar to be branded as THE ‘villain’ actor.

According to many Malayalam news reports, Sathar’s professional life took a downward route with the collapse of his marriage to leading heroine Jayabharathy. Known to be one of the earliest star couples in the film industry, they tied the knot at a time when both were shining in their spheres. Their divorce shocked the Malayalam film industry. However, they continued with their professional commitments in cinema and took considerable care to never discuss their personal issues in public.

In a Mathrubhumi column on Sathar as an actor, noted screen play writer John Paul has said, “He is an actor who never got the roles he deserved in Malayalam cinema. He had a down-to-earth, straightforward attitude about everything and the greatest respect for his wife Jayabharathy. He respected her stature always and at all times. In these last days, Jayabharathy’s constant presence was a solace for him.”

Sathar and Jayabharathy’s son Krish Sathar, actor-turned-restauranteur, made his debut in Mohanlal starrer ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’.

In 2012, Sathar made a comeback of sorts, donning the role of a ‘villain with a compassionate heart’ in 22 Female Kottayam, directed by Aashiq Abu in 2012. A brief role no doubt, but Sathar’s portrayal of vulnerability and compassion in what would seemingly appear as a villainous character in the context of women is rendered with the finesse of an actor with remarkable talent.

In a way, it is Sathar’s role in 22 Female Kottayam that helps the female protagonist to deliver the ‘final punch’ in the narrative.

He also acted in the Mammootty starrer ‘Manglish’ despite his failing health. His love for acting, despite the health issues he had, is well-known in the industry.

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In a Facebook post, actress Ranjini conveyed her sadness over the veteran actor’s death. She also shared that she had met Sathar some months ago at a dinner and ‘can’t believe he has gone so soon.’

The tributes from the film industry continue to pour in for the actor who was laid to rest on Tuesday.

Few ‘villain’ actors succeed in making their mark so strong and memorable so to be as loved, respected and remembered by the film industry as this veteran actor Sathar has done.

While in reel life, Sathar portrayed roles that were disturbing and mostly negative, his real-life stories are heartwarming as more stories of his emotional resilience and compassion emerge from those who have worked with him over the years. Indeed, he leaves behind a legacy of powerhouse talent and compassion that shine forever in the hearts of Malayalis.

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