P. K. R. Pillai – Malayalam film producer and distributor of several Mohanlal hits
P. K. R. Pillai (1930/1931 – 2023) was a noted film producer and distributor associated with Malayalam film industry. He is best known for producing many iconic Mohanlal movies such as Chithram, Vandhanam, Kizhakkunarum Pakshi, Aham etc. Shobharaj & Amritam Gamaya are other Mohanlal movies produced by him. Oomapenninuriyada Payyan starring Jayasurya and Kavya Madhavan was also produced by him. Under the banner, Shirdi Sai Creations which he formed, Pillai produced 14 movies and distributed 8 others.
His full name is Parisapparambil Kunjan Pillai Ramachandran Pillai
The successful businessman cum filmmaker & distributor P. K. R. Pillai hailed from Koothattukulam of Ernakulam district. During his early years he was doing import-export business in Mumbai and was also involved in politics, associated with INC. In fact he had close relationship with former PM Indira Gandhi. He owned Starnight Group of Industries and a 26-horse race track too. He got into film production in 1984.
Marked his debut as a hero & producer in films
He was approached by Suresh Kumar, a Malayali settled in Chennai expressing his desire to produe a film. Kumar had just completed his direction course from Pune Film Institute. The first movie he produced was Vepralam, where he played the lead role too. Suresh Kumar directed the film, and Menaka and Lakshmi played female leads. In his second film, Thathamme Poocha Poocha, he played a character role.
As it was not easy to manage both films and business, he left acting. After that he produced 12 more movies of which many Mohanlal films are iconic and played a magnificent role in establishing his stardom. He is credited with producing eight of Mohanlal’s films in the 1980s, of which Chithram and Vandhanam are still immensely popular.
Puli Varunne Puli, Rapid Action Force, Pranayamanithooval etc are a few more. Pranayamanithooval was his last work as a film producer. With early 1990s he took a break from film making when he was facing a downfall in business, and returned with Rapid Action Force in 2000. He produced two more films. ‘Jalakam’, and super hit Mohanlal movies like ‘Vellanakalude Nadu’, ‘Aye Auto’ and ‘Vishnulokam’ are some of the popular films distributed by him.
About P. K. R. Pillai’s personal life
Pillai’s first wife Sarojam died in an accident. He later married Rema, and had four children, three sons and a daughter. His youngest son Sidhu R Pillai, a budding actor died in 2018. He was struggling with memory issues during his last years and was in financial crisis too. Once a successful businessman with business establishments in all big Indian cities, and a star film producer, he lost everything and had to seek help from film association for meeting his treatment expenses. For his younger daughter’s marriage too, he had to seek help from association.
He witnessed downfall in business in the early 1990s, and started selling his business firms to Birla group one after another. Slowly he had to sell his homes, even film theatres too. Many of his firms and houses, he sold at low prices, and with his savings he moved to Peechi, Thrissur where he lived the rest of his life.
It was producer Saji Nandhiyath who told his painful story to outer world in 2019. Pillai’s wife says, those who stood with him snatched everything away with trickery and deceit! Though many of his hit films are repeatedly telecasted in TV channels, Pillai has no right over them. He passed away on 16 May 2023 aged 92. He spent his last years in Peechi, Thrissur.
P. K. R. Pillai – Some interesting and less-known facts
1. He was an ardent devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba, who built a temple and auditorium in his name, in his hometown.
2. He played lead role in his first film production – Vepralam. He wanted to cast Prem Nazir as hero. As dates were not available, Pillai did the role.
3. He played a brief role in his second film, Thathamme Poocha Poocha.
4. His son Sidhu R Pillai found dead in Goa in 2018. He has acted in 16 movies, including Chithram, Vandanam and Amrutham Gamaya, produced by his father. He was 27. After playing numerous childhood roles, he started his second innings alongside DQ in his debut film, Second Show in a supporting role.
5. Because of lost memory, he was waiting for his dead son to come back, during last years. In fact shock of his son’s death led to memory issues.
6. Because of his lost memory, he doesn’t seem to remember who owns the copyrights of many of his hit films, which are frequently telecasted in TV channels.