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N N Pillai – The Theatre Legend

nnpN. N. Pillai
(1918 – |1995) was an Indian playwright, actor, theatre director, and orator. Dedicated to the cause of drama, Pillai has written over 30 Malayalam plays, 40 one-act plays, two theoretical studies on theater and an autobiography. Gifted with enormous theaterical as well as artistic talents, and varied experiences, N. N. Pillai always appeared deep and unruffled.

Personal life

N. N. Pillai was born in 1918 at Vaikom, Kottayam district to Ullilakkiru Parambil Narayana Pillai and Vaikom Thekkathil Parukkutty Amma. He did his studies from CMS College Kottayam but failed in Intermediate exams. He went to Malay in search of a job. During Second World War, he took part in the campaigning for INA. He returned to Kerala in 1945 only to return to Malay with his family within a year. He stayed in Malay for three and a half years and came back and settled at Olassa in Kottayam district.

His family includes his wife Chinnamma, sister Omana, two daughters Sulochana and Renuka and son Vijayaraghavan who is a popular Malayalam film actor.


N. N. Pillai started a drama troupe called Viswa Kerala Kala Samithi in 1952 and staged his own plays. Pillai acted in all his plays. The plays were staged throughout Kerala, all over India and even abroad. Viswa Kerala Kala Samithi staged his plays till 2005 even after his death in 1995 by his son Vijayaraghavan and son-in-law Rajendra Babu.

Some of his popular plays are Kapalika, Prethalokam, Gorilla, Folydol, Kanakku Chembakaraman, Easwaran Arastil and Cross Belt. Pillai also acted in two movies in Malayalam, Godfather and Nadodi both of which were blockbuster successes. Godfather was also remade into Telugu and Tamil language and he acted in the lead role in all these languages.

Pillai also wrote two studies on state plays, Nadaka Darppanam and Curtain. His autobiography is called Njaan.


N. N. Pillai has received awards from Indian Government, Kerala State Government, Kerala Sahithya Academy, Sangeetha Nataka Acamedy and Sahithya Pravathaka Samgham.
His autobiography Njaan received an award from Abudabi Malayala Samajam.

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