Philomina(1926-2006) was a veteran Malayalam actress of yesteryear. She had acted in more than 750 films in her long film career. She played mostly character and comedy roles, besides that of grandmother and mother. Like most actors Philomina had cut her acting teeth on the stage. This experience stood her in good stead when she was offered her first film role.
Entering the film industry with eight years of experience in professional drama, she worked with the drama troupe of P J Antony in the early days. She used to say it was her initial experience with a great actor like Antony that helped her shape her film career.
Philomina's parents were disturbed, when she had to travel to Chennai for the first shoot, it was Moidu Padiyathu who convinced her parents. Her first movie,`Kuttikkupayam' (1964), produced by T.E. Vasudevan and directed by M. Krishnan Nair was a big hit. Philomina, who essayed the role of Prem Nazir's mother, a Muslim character, went on to become an integral part of Malayalam movies.
She was flitting from set to set breathing life into numerous roles. In between she got married, but lost her husband when her son was just three years old. Acting was not a lucrative option. Philomina slogged to build up career and life, brick by brick.
Better times rolled and this versatile actress established herself. Her individualistic voice and unique style of dialogue delivery were her greatest assets. Philomina used to very proudly claim that no one ever dubbed for her. Philomina won her first State award, for the best supporting actress, in 1970 for her roles in films `Thurakkathavaathil' and the widely acclaimed `Olavum Theeravum.' In 1987 she received the award for the second time for `Thaniyavarthanam.'
Somewhere during this time there was a short break in her career. However, she came back with a bang with some challenging roles in the films of Bharathan and Padmarajan. And Philomina did full justice to the confidence reposed in her by these and the other directors. The roles in films like `Chatta', 'Innale', `Njan Gandharvan,' `Venkalam,' `Churam,' `Vietnam Colony' were testimony of Philomina's versatility. Her roles in ‘Kudumbapuranam,’ ‘Godfather,’ ‘Uppukandam Brothers, ‘Thalayanamandram’ and ‘Kakkothikavile Appuppanthadikal’ would also be remembered for long.
It was Sathyan Anthikkad who first cast Philomina in a comic role. The film `Madanmaar Londonil,' gave this talented actress a new image. From then, with a keen sense of commitment to her job and a passion for acting, she transformed herself into the most popular comedienne of Malayalam cinema. Her roles in films like `Malayogam,' `Kireedam,' `Uncle Bun,' `Manathe Kottaram, `Vrudhanmaare Sookshikkuka,' `In Harihar Nagar,' and many others revealed the different facets of this genre.
In a career spanning over four decades Philomina starred in 750 films and numerous television serials. This ebullient actress was last seen in `Meerayude Dukhavum Muthuvinte Swapnavum.'
Philomina was living in a small, well done-up apartment in Kochi till she shifted to her son's place in Chennai a couple of years before her death. She was a chronic diabetic and suffered stroke in 2005. She was getting insulin shots for her diabetic condition. She was bed-ridden for over a month. She died at her son Joseph's residence in Chennai due to diabetic related problems in 2 January 2006.