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Nambiar Swami (The Good, The Bad And The Holy)

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Nambiar Swami (The Good, The Bad And The Holy)
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Item Code: NAR605
Author: M.N. Dipak Nambiar
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9789353028435
Pages: 192 (11 Color and 16 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details: 9.00 X 6.00 inch
weight of the book: 0.32 kg
About the Book

Few actors in Tamil cinema have been as loved as M.N. Nambiar. Admired for his intense acting prowess, particularly his portrayals of villains, he was also revered as a guruswami (spiritual leader). Nambiarswami provides an in-depth look into his public persona and personal life, which he fastidiously kept separate from one another. From growing up in Ooty and joining the gritty world of travelling drama troupes to achieving stellar success in the Tamil film industry, this book takes the reader on an engaging journey narrated by the man himself, as told to his grandson Dipak Nambiar.

The foreword by J. Jayalalithaa and stirring anecdotes from his family and industry friends make this book a fascinating portrait of the legendary actor.

About the Author

M.N. DIPAK NAMBIAR grew up in Chennai, raised by two strong women - his mother and grandmother. After getting his MBA from Boston, he continued to live in the United States for some time before returning to India. A single father, Dipak loves to spoil his children, Dia and Manas, while also taking out the time to read, ride a 1958 model vintage Bullet and listen to the Beatles. Currently, he is writing his memoir.


Very few people in the history of Tamil cinema have been as beloved and deified as M.N. Nambiar; and not many have so profoundly shaped the art of villainy as this Tamil icon had in his career spanning over seven incredible decades. To this day, millions revere him as both a legendary thespian as well as a guruswami (spiritual leader). But not many know that he was a deeply private person whose life happened to coincide with the then emerging Tamil cinema industry. This book hopes to provide the reader with an in-depth look into certain facets of his personal life as well as his public persona - two entities that he fastidiously kept separate from one another. Beginning from his humble childhood days in Ooty, to the hardships of youth faced in the gritty world of travelling drama troupes, to eventually ascending to the pinnacle of villainous success in the Tamil film industry, this book will take the reader on a fascinating journey through the actor's life, narrated by the man himself.

The source material for this book comes from my first-hand interviews with Guruswami M.N. Nambiar, who was my maternal grandfather and raised me as his own son for three decades, giving me enough time and proximity to put together this compendium. This book also features anecdotes by his near family (his wife and three children) as well as by the industry professionals he worked with.

An actor's life reflects a microcosm of reality. Every flaw is enhanced a million times and good men are rarely, if ever, acknowledged. Nambiarswami was a man who is still remembered as much for his peerless reputation as he was for his acclaimed performances.

I hope you will enjoy this journey.

Please direct any feedback, corrections, praise or abuse to or to


My association with Nambiarswami spanned more than half a century. I was his son Sukumar's classmate and recall both him and his sister, Sneha, being occasionally picked up from school by Nambiarswami. When I joined the film industry, he was already the reigning king of villains. I have always been a private person and very selective about the friends I made both within the industry and outside of it; but, more than a friend, I considered Nambiarswami to be my guide. In fact, it was to his house (and Cho's) that I went to for blessings on my sixtieth birthday. When his favourite grandson, Dipak, told me about a book that he had penned on the great man's life, I was more than happy to take a few minutes to speak to him about my lifelong association with Nambiarswami.

Although I have done many movies with Nambiarswami, fans might not know that probably the only film in which he acted in a positive role (as a policeman), while M.G. Ramachandran played a slightly negative character, was in Devar Films' Thanipiravi. This movie came out in 1966 and I acted as his daughter (and I would later again play his daughter in Pudhiya Bhoomi [1968]). Both my favorite personalities, Nambiarswami and Cho, acted as father and son in En Annan (1970). Though Nambiarswami was a fearsome villain in this film, the scenes in which he interacts with his craven son were templates on how actors can score points off of one another. Half the time you didn't know whether to laugh or be scared. The parts where father and son blackmailed the other doyen of Tamil villainy, Ashokan, were a riot of laughs. I also acted in Kavalkaran (1967) with Nambiarswami and a veritable galaxy of that era's top stars - MGR, Nagesh, VKR (V.K. Ramaswami), Manohar and Ashokan. Swami's on-screen villainy was best exemplified in Savale Samali (1971), where I acted as his sister. He was at his scariest best in almost every scene he stole in that film. And for all that fire and bombast, the moment the director called 'cut', Nambiarswami would effortlessly turn back into the serene person he was; enquiring about others, joking incessantly. There are some relationships and associations that we cherish simply because of the number of years they have stood, and this was certainly true in regards to my friendship with Nambiarswami and his wife Rugmini Amma. It has always been a priceless relationship, characterized by his habit of constantly teasing me. Whether I was a debutante or the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, I was the same girl to Nambiarswami.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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