May 22, 1957 in Chennai, India
May 22, 1957 in Chennai, India
One of the most prominent actress in the Malayalam film industry, Seema in her illustrious career spanning over four decades has acted in more than 250 Malayalam films. The actress who started her acting career at an early age of 14 years, ruled the roost during the 1980’s, which is considered to be the golden era of Malayalam cinema. The winner of several prestigious awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Seema changed the fashion sense in the Malayalam cinema; she infused the western outfits like bell bottoms, miniskirts and sleeveless tops in the Mainstream cinema at a time when traditional outfits like saree and blouses were the order of the day. Apart from Malayalam cinema, the actress has also worked in Tamil, and Kannada films and TV series.
Seema was born as Shanthakumari on 22 nd May, 1957 in Chennai in Tamil Nadu to Madhavan Nambiar who worked with T.V.S. parcel service, and Vasanthy. Seema parent’s divorced when she was seven years old and she moved with her mother to Choolaimedu, Chennai, where she grew up with she grew up. The actress has two young step brothers and one younger step sister named Lakshmi. She completed her primary education from P.N. Dhawan Adarash Vidyalaya.
Seema married director I.V. Sasi in 1980 and the couple has two children, a daughter named Anu Milan and Ani sasi.
Seema was just a teenager when she started working as a dancer in the film industry in the early 1970s. She bagged her first role as an actor in the film Nizhale Nee Sakshi (1977), but it got shelved and was later completed with another actress. During the shooting of this film, however, she was given the name ‘Seema’ by her co-star Jayan. Seema then collaborated with Jayan – one of the biggest stars in the history of Malayalam cinema - in many of his films and the pair became one of the most popular pairs in Kerala. They were particularly known for their dancing in the songs Ezham Malika Mele in Sarppam (1979), Kasthuri Manmizhi in Manushya Mrigam (1980) and Kannum Kannum from Angadi (1980). Their pairing in Angadi particularly was mighty successful with the film becoming the biggest hit of the year. It led to the two of them working together in numerous other films.
While she was featuring in one hit after another with Jayan in his action thrillers, Seema also acted in the path-breaking Malayalam cinema of those times. Her first major role as an actress came in the I.V. Sasi film Avalkude Ravukal (1978) in which she played a young prostitute. It was one of the boldest films of its time and got Seema lot of popularity and acclaim. She also developed a bond with the director Sasi and later also ended up marrying him. The two have collaborated in over 30 films.
In the same year, Seema made a mark as an actress with the two other films – Lisa and Eeta. In Lisa (1978), she played an angry spirit of a dead girl who is itching to take revenge against those responsible for her death, while in Eeta (1978) – a romantic drama - she played Kamal Hasan’s love interest. Seema proved her versatility by acting in films as diverse as these within a span of just a year.
Her popularity in Kerala helped her to cross over into other film industries with Pagalil Oru Iravu (1979) being her Tamil debut. In the film directed by I.V. Sasi, Seema played a doctor in the film who is forced to sacrifice her love. She also debuted in the Telugu film industry the next year with the bilingual Kaali (1980) which was again directed by I.V. Sasi. She starred opposite Rajnikanth in the Tamil version, while in the Telugu version she was Chiranjeevi’s leading lady.
The 1980s saw Seema steadily building a reputation with her peaking as an actress in the year 1984. She starred in three films, namely, Kanamarayathu, Aksharangal and Aalkkottathil Thaniye that got her unprecedented name and fame. They were all directed by her then husband and frequent collaborator I.V. Sasi and starred Malayalm superstar Mammootty in the lead role. Kanamarayathu was a film about unrequited love with her playing the role of Elsie. Shobhana played the second female lead in the film. She won the both the Kerala State Film Award as well as the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for her performances in Aallkoottathil Thaniye and Aksharangal. Legendary screenwriter M.T. Vasudevan Nair had penned the screenplay for both the films. In Aallkootathil Thaniye, she plays Ammu who Mammotty doesn’t marry despite loving her, while in Aksharangal she plays the role of Geetha who Mamootty loves despite being married to someone else. Another popular film of Seema that released in 1984 was Sandarbham directed by Joshy. It is an emotional family drama in which she played the role of Advocate Rajani.
Seema continued with her streak of awards in the next year as well with the film Anubandham (1985) earning her the Kerala State Film Award as well as the Flimfare Award for Best Actress. The movie also starred both the superstars of Malayalam cinema – Mammootty and Mohanlal. In the film, she plays a widow who starts a kindergarten to earn a livelihood along with the help of Mammootty who is her silent admirer. I.V. Sasi and M.T. Vasudevan Nair were the writer-director pair of the film.
Vartha (1986) was yet another film in which she partnered with both Mohanlal and Mammootty. It was again directed by her husband (I.V. Sasi), but the screenplay here was written by T. Damodaran. The film is about a journalist who fights against the corrupt government system. It was a critical as well as commercial success.
Seema worked with Mohanlal next year in the comedy film Sarvakalashala (1987) directed Venu Nagavalli which was declared a box office hit. Before her break from the movies, the Seema – Mammootty - I.V. Sasi – T. Damodaran combination again came together to give A super hit in the name of Abkari (1988). It was based on the life of liquor barons and contractors.
Seema returned to films in 1998 with the film Olympian Anthony Adam wherein she played the role of Principal Susanna Roy. Post her coming back from a break, Seema has been cast in supporting roles in various Malayalam films like Prajapathi (2006), Four Friends (2010) and Geethanjali (2013), and Tamil films like Baba (2002) and Anbe Sivam (2003).
Apart from her successful career in the film industry, the actress has also been a popular face in the TV industry. The actress who has mainly appeared on the small screen as a guest in the Malayalam series’ is best remember for playing the role of Naachiyar, an idealistic mother in the popular TV series, Thangam (2009 – 2013). Her other popular series includes Chinna Papa Periya Papa, where she played the role of Chinna Papa in the season 3 of the series that was showcased on SUN TV. In 2016, the actress had quite a busy year as she mainly appeared as a guest in Malayalam shows like JB Junction, Harmony, Nere Chovve, Comedy Festival and Comedy Super Nite.