Lyricist, screenplay writer, filmmaker, poet and music director, Sreekumaran Thampi is a multi-faceted talent of the Malayalam film industry. Having penned approximately 3000 songs, mainly about love and philosophy, his work has retained its charm and continues to delight younger generations. His creativity, reflected in his writings and treatment of films, has won appreciation from connoisseurs. Beginning his career as a lyricist in the Malayalam film Kaattumallika (1966), he went on to produce 21 feature films, direct 29 films and also write scripts for approximately 78 films in Malayalam. Among the awards he has been honoured with are the Kerala State Award for films Mohiniyattam (1976) and Gaanam (1982), which he directed, as well as the National Award (Gold Lotus) for best book on cinema for Kanakkum Kavithayum.
Born on 16 March, 1940 in Haripad, Alappuzha, Kerala, he was introduced into the Malayalam film industry in 1966 by the Merryland Studio owner P. Subramaniam as a lyricist with the film Kaattumallika. He went on to evolve into one of the finest and most prolific lyricists of the industry. As his songs have the power to transport listeners into a realm of romance, he is affectionately called ‘Hrudaya Ragangaluday Kavi’, or a Poet of Love Songs. Some of his well-known love songs include Kasthurimanakkunnallo, Aa nimishathinte nirvrithiyil njan, and Onnam raagam paadi, which blend lyrics, melody and picturisation. His most popular songs include Hridayasarassile (Padunna Puzha, 1968), Ponveyil manikacha (Nrithashala, 1972), Eswaranorikkal (Lankadahanam, 1971), Rajeevanayane (Chandrakantham, 1974), Malayala bhasha than (Prethangalude Thazhavara, 1973), Yadukula rathidevenevide (Rest House, 1969), Kasthuri manakkunnalo katte (Picnic/ Naayika, 1976), Sukhamoru bindu (Ithu Manushyano, 1973), Nin maniyarayile (CID Nazir, 1971), Akaleyakale neelakasham (Midumidukki, 1968), Chirikkumbol Koode Chirikkan (Kadal, 1968), En mandahasam chandrikayayenkil (Udayam, 1973), Madam potti chirikkunna (Chithramela, 1967) and Makaram poyittum (Velutha Kathreena, 1968).
His film productions include award-winning films like Gaanam (1982), Mohiniyattam (1976), Etho Oru Swapnam (1978), Malika Paniyunnavar (1979) and blockbusters like Chattambi Kalyani (1975), Aakramanam (1981), Simhasanam (1979), Idimuzhakkam (1980), Jeyikkanai Jenichavan (1978), Yuvajanotsavam (1986), and Bandhukkal Shatrukkal (1993). He directed approximately 28 films including Gaanam, Mohiniyattam, Etho Oru Swapnam, Malika Paniyunnavar, Venalil Oru Mazha (1979), Ambalavilakku (1980), Swantham Enna Padam (1980), Nayattu (1980), Jeevitham Oru Gaanam (1979), Puthiya Velicham (1979) and Onde Raktha (1985).
An acclaimed writer, he penned stories, screenplays and dialogues for approximately 80 films in Malayalam. Some of these include Vilaikku Vangiya Veena (1971), Kakka Thampuratti (1970), Veendum Prabhatham (1973), Sethu Bandhanam (1974), Sindhu (1975), Pravaham (1975), Abhimanam (1975), and Chattambi Kalyani (1975).
He also penned a critical work about evergreen actor Prem Nazir titled Prem Nazir Enna Prema Ganam. His work Kanakkum Kavithayum, which sketches the history and techniques of filmmaking, fetched the National Award for the Best Book on Cinema. He has also written several plays, short stories, and poems for children. His published works include the collections of poems Kaviyum Malakhamarum (The Poet and The Angels), Engineerude Veena (Engineer’s Veena), Neela Thamara (The Blue Lotus), En Makan Karayumbol (When My Son Cries), Sheershakamillatha Kavithakal (Poems Without Titles), Achante Chumbanam (Father’s Kiss), Ammakyoru Tharattu (A Lullaby for Mother), Puthralabham, and Omanayude Oru Divasam (A day of the darling). His novels include Kakkathampuratti (The Black Bird), Kuttanad (The Rice bowl of Kerala), Njan oru Katha parayam (I Will Tell You a Story), Kadalum Karalum (The Sea and The Heart), and the short stories Ambili Akaleyanu (The Moon is Faraway), and Sreekumaran Thampiyude Cherukadhakal (Sreekumaran Thampi’s Short stories). His works in other categories include Deshabhakthi Gaanangal – a collection of patriotic songs, Hridayasarassu – a collection of 1001 selected film songs, and Axis – a play which was filmed as Bhoogolam Thiriyunnu (1974).
Venturing into television, he produced and directed 12 TV serials such as Akshayapathram, Sapathni, Akkarapacha, Dhampathya Geethangal, Amma Thamburatti, Aliyanmarum Penganmarum, Coimbatore Ammayi, Pattukalude Paattu, Chattambi Kalyani and Bandhuvaru Santruvaru. He also directed four 13-episode serials and several documentaries for Asianet, Doordarshanan, Amrita TV, Surya TV and Jaihind TV. He also directed a serial on the history of Malayalam film music titled Sangeetha Yatrakal. He also produced and directed 40 documentaries on various music directors and other film technicians.
Among the awards he has to his credit in the realm of literature are Revathi Pattathanam Krishna Geethi Award for the book Achante Chumbanam, Pravasi Kairali Literary Award for the book Achante Chumbanam, Muloor Poetry Award for the book Sheershakamillatha Kavithakal, Mahakavi Ulloor Award for the book Achante Chumbanam, Sree Padmanabhaswamy Balasahithya Award for the book Omanayude Oru Divas Am, Odakkuzhal Award for the book Ammakyoru Tharattu, Sangam Kala Group, New Delhi chapter Lifetime Achievement Award 2010 for literature and cinema, Kozhissery Balaraman Award for Lifetime Achievement in literature, Parvathi Padmam Award for Lifetime Achievement in literature and cinema, Asan Smaraka Kavitha Puraskaram, Naimisaranyam Award for value based poetry, Mayilpeeli Award for Lifetime Achievement in literature, Mahakavi Vallaththol Award for literature, and E.V. Krishnapillai Memorial Award.
Notable awards he has earned for his work in cinema include Kerala Sangeetha Nadaka Academy's Kalasree Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Kerala State Award for Best Lyricist in 1971 and 2011, Filmfare Award for Best Director in Malayalam (Mohiniyattam), Kerala Government Veteran Cine Artistes Award, Prem Nazir Foundation Award for Lifetime Achievement in Malayalam cinema, SBT Staff Association Award for best serial director for the Malayalam serial Akshayapathram, Malayalam TV viewers Award for best director for the serials Akshayapathram and Akkarapacha, Lifetime Achievement Award instituted by Dubai Priyadarshini, Raagalaya (Mumbai) Award for Lifetime Achievement, and Kerala film Critics Association's T.N.Gopinathan Nair Memorial Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement in mini screen.