CHENNAI: Well-known multi-lingual actor and filmmaker Pratap Pothen died in Chennai following a cardiac arrest, his wife said on Friday. Pothen "passed away in his sleep" following a cardiac arrest, his wife Amala Pothen told PTI.
He was 69. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
Pothen had acted in over 100 films in Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, and Telugu, in a career spanning over 40 years . He has worked as a scriptwriter, director, and producer, too.
He was born on August 13, 1952, to his father Kulathukunal Pothen and his mother Ponnamma Pothen in Thiruvananthapuram. After finishing his schooling in Ooty, he developed an interest in acting. Post his graduation from Madras Christian College, he moved to Mumbai to work as a copywriter for an ad agency.
Born in Thiruvananthapuram in 1952, Pothen was working as a copywriter with a Mumbai-based advertising agency when filmmaker Bharathan offered him a prominent role in the Malayalam film Aaravam (1978).
His performance in these films was especially lauded: Thakara (1979), Lorry (1980), and Chamaram (1980).
Impressed by Pothen’s acting, Bharathan cast him in the titular role in Thakara (1979) written by Padmarajan. Pothen’s performance as a mentally-challenged person, matching late actor Nedumudi Venu’s Chellappanashari in every frame, was lauded by all. Bharathan went on to cast Pothen in Chamaram (1980).
Novemberinte Nashtam (1982), directed by Padmarajan, was another film where his performance was appreciated.
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In Tamil, he acted in films like Moodupani (1980), Varumayin Niram Sivappu (1980), Nenjathai Killathe (1980), and Panneer Pushpangal (1981).
Not one to confine himself to acting, Pothen made his directorial debut with the Tamil film Meendum Oru Kaathal Kathai (1985). Pothen and Radhika, who he married the same year, played lead roles.
The movie won the Indira Gandhi award for the ‘best debut film of a director’ at the 32nd National Film Awards.
The senior actor-director was known for his unique dialogue delivery and has acted in a number of movies with top-ranked stars including Kamal Haasan in Varumayin Niram Sivappu, directed by K Balachander.
Pothen had directed a total of 12 films including the Tamil films Jeeva (1988), Vettri Vizhaa (1989), Seevalaperi Pandi (1994) and Lucky Man (1995). He also directed three Malayalam films --- Rithubhedam (1987), Daisy (1988), and Oru Yathramozhi (1997).
Oru Yathramozhi, which tells the story of a father and son, was notable since it had acting maestros Sivaji Ganesan and Mohanlal sharing screen space.
He also directed the hit Tamil film Vetri Vizha starring Kamal Haasan.
தீவிர இலக்கிய வாசிப்பையும் கலைப் படங்கள் மீதான தணியாத ஆர்வத்தையும் தொடர்ந்தவர் நண்பர் ப்ரதாப் போத்தன். விறுவிறுப்பான திரைப்படங்களை வெற்றிகரமாக இயக்குவதிலும் நிபுணர் என்பதை 'வெற்றிவிழா' காலத்தில் பார்த்திருக்கிறேன். அவருக்கென் அஞ்சலி. pic.twitter.com/KL0Whqt93X— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) July 15, 2022
He was also part of the theatre group The Madras Players.
In the last few years, the actor was busy with his ad agency, Green apple. He had also the Tamil TV show Naalaya Iyakkynar.
After separating from Raadhika in 1986, he married Amala Sathyanath in 1990. They separated in 2012. They have a daughter named Keya Pothen.
Pothen won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for Thakara in 1979, and another Filmfare Award for Best Actor for Chamaram in 1980. He won the Filmfare Award for Best Director for Rithubhedam in 1987, and a Kerala State Film Award (Special Jury Award) in 2014 for his role in Once Upon a Time There was a Kallan.
Known for his maverick streaks, Pothen disappeared from the movie scene after his 1995 Tamil film Lucky Man. He re-emerged in the 2012 Malayalam film 22 Female Kottayam, directed by Aashiq Abu. He won the SIIMA Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role for 22 Female Kottayam.
Abu later cast him in Idukki Gold (2013). Pothen was in demand again and acted in a slew of movies.
CBI-5: The Brain, released in May, was his latest release.
He was also seen in recent films like Uyare, Tughlaq Durbar, and Forensic.
He also has a role in the upcoming Barroz: Nidhi Kaakkum Bhootham, the directorial debut of Mohanlal.
Condolences pour in
Political leaders including Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan, Assembly Speaker M B Rajesh and state ministers condoled the demise of the actor-director.
Vijayan said "we lost a talent who had made his mark in south Indian cinema as an actor, director and producer". "His unique roles in movies including Thakara is an experience that has been passed down to generations from generations. He was also noted for his opinions expressed on various political and social issues," Vijayan said.
Ministers V Sivankutty and Antony Raju condoled the death of the actor and said the cinema industry lost a talented artist.
Tributes poured in for the actor, with Malayalam star Prithviraj Sukumaran among those expressing grief over the filmmaker's passing away.
INC Kerala expressed their condolences on Twitter.
Sad to hear that the noted filmmaker and actor Pratap Pothen is no more. He will be remembered for his stellar performances in numerous Malayalam films and the movies that he had scriped and directed. May his soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/pImnDMyVub— Congress Kerala (@INCKerala) July 15, 2022
Pothen's mortal remains will be cremated in Chennai on July 16.
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(With inputs from Express News Service and PTI)