With the death of Aranmula Ponnamma at the ripe old age of 96, Malayalam cinema literally lost a “mother figure”. For none else had ever enacted so many motherly roles in her film career as did Ponnamma, and it may also be a record for world cinema. In fact, she had enacted the roles of screen mother for artistes who were several years senior to her, including the famous , with the star once commenting that he may have addressed her as mother so many times more than he would have done for his real mother. Tragically, in her real life, she could not perform her role of mother as she would have liked it, since her daughter and son had both met with very untimely deaths. As she had also lost her husband subsequently, she had to spend her last days with her grand children and great grand children.
However, that significant aspect of her career apart, on her own merits, she was an accomplished actress, and the recipient of several awards throughout her career, including the National Award for acting, although her initial inclinations were towards Carnatic music. She was not only herself a trained vocalist, performing at several meetings from early childhood, but also a music teacher at a Girls’ School in Trivandrum. Her acting career did not start with films, but as the normal pattern in those days, she initially took part in plays before entering films. In fact, her maiden film appearance happened at a relatively higher age when she was almost touching 30. Interestingly, even her debut role was that of a mother in the 1950 film “Sasidharan”. The exceptions were few and far between, with Ponnamma appearing in different types of roles in only two films. She played a loose character woman in “Yachakan” and portrayed a slightly negative characterization in the film “Paadunna Puzha “. Besides these two she was almost always cast in a mother’s role. Trying to rationalize this aspect, Ponnamma had once revealed that her role model was her mother, who had to take care of a family of five children after her father’s untimely death. Her last film incidentally was “Gourisankaram” in 2004 when she was already touching 90.
Aranmula Ponnamma came into this world on 8th of April in the year 1914. She was born in the town of Aranmula which is located in the state of Kerala. She was a very famous actress in Malayalam film industry and is known for playing the motherly figure to various protagonists in the movie mostly because she had started her career at a very later stage in her life.
Ponnamma was born to Malethu Kesava Pillai and Parukutty Amma. She had seen some struggles in the early years of her life especially after her father died when she was just nine years old. She is one of the five children that in her family.
Aranmula started working at a very tender age as a Carnatic music vocalist, and this was when she was just 12 years old. When she was 15 years of age, she was appointed as a teacher in a primary school, and she taught music in that school which was located in Pala. As and when she grew up, she got promoted to Senior Secondary School too.
Aranmula made her debut in the field of acting when she essayed a role in the play Bhagyalaxmi, and this was when she was 29 years old. She then made her debut in the film industry by working in the movie Sashidharan. Perhaps since she plays the roles of a mother in Malayalam movies, she considered her mother to be the role model for her life.
Ponnamma married Late Kochu Krishna Pillai, and they have two children together, a daughter named Rajamma and a son named Rajashekhara. She had also won a National Award for the Best Supporting Actress for her movie Kathapurushan, and this was in the year 1996.
Ponnamma died when she was 96 years of age and was hospitalized at a hospital in Mumbai where she breathed her last and left a huge void in the industry.