He made his mark as a villain and acted while late into his 90s; he appeared in over 300 films
G.K. Pillai, a towering presence in Malayalam cinema for the last seven decades, died at Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. He was 97.
After making his debut in Snehaseema in 1954, in which he played a 65-year-old man (he was 29 at the time), he went on to act in over three films and several television serials in the latter part of his career. It was as a villain that he attained popularity, especially in the 1960s and 70s, when he was a regular presence in Malayalam cinema.
Born at Chirayinkeezhu, in Thiruvananthapuram district, in 1924, he had left home and joined the Indian Army when he was 16. He had taken part in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48 and had served in Kolkata during the communal riots of 1946.
When Pillai returned home after serving the army for 14 years, he wanted to act in cinema, after he found out that his schoolmate Abdul Khader had become a star in Malayalam cinema, with the screen name Prem Nazir.
He would go on to share the screen with Nazir for decades. Like Nazir, the reigning superstar, he was an integral part of Vadakkan Pattu films, such as Othenante Makan, Ponnapuram Kotta, Kadathanattu Makkam, Thumbolarcha and Thacholi Ambu.
Karyasthan (2010) was his last major film. He had been pretty busy in television serials for the last couple of decades, though.