Veteran Malayalam film and television actor K N Jagannatha Varma died at a private hospital in Neyyantinkara near Thiruvananthapuram on December 19. The actor was 77 and is survived by his wife, Santha, son, television actor Manu Varma and daughter Priya. Noted director Viji Thampy is married to Jagannatha Varma’s daughter. The veteran actor was hospitalised earlier this week after being diagnosed with Pneumonia. An accomplished Kathakali artist, Jagannatha Varma was in the Kerala Police force and had retired as the Superintendent of Police. He made his debut in Malayalam films with 1978’s Mattoly and has starred in over 500 films during his career.
Jagannatha Varma is best admired for his roles in films like New Delhi, Lelam, Pathram, Nakshatrangale Sakshi, Sughamo Devi, Ee Thanuthe Veluppan Kalathu and No 20 Madras Mail.
At the age of 74, he made his debut stage performance or ‘arangetram’ as Thayambaka artist and had said if age permits he would love to devote more time to the instrument. Jagannatha Varma made his debut on TV with 1996’s Kairali Vilasam Lodge. He has also been part of popular TV shows like Aathira Sooryakalady, Devimahathmyam and Ponnum Poovum. Jagannatha Varma featured as Rajan Kartha in the ongoing TV show Mangalyapattu.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Cultural Affairs and Cinema A K Balan remembered the veteran artiste and said that Varma had been an integral part of Malayalam cinema for the last three decades. He has garnered the applause of viewers through various character roles including that of cops, the minister said as he remembered the veteran artiste. Jagannatha Varma was not just an actor, but an artist who proved his exceptional skills in Kathakali and percussion, the minister added.