Adoor Bhasi was born on 1 March 1927 in Rosscote Bungalow, Vazhuthacaud, Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the erstwhile native State of Travancore in South India. He had a rich lineage to boast of. His father, E. V. Krishna Pillai, was a renowned Malayalam humourist writer, dramatist, pioneering short story writer and essayist, a lawyer and a Member of the then Travancore Legislative Assembly (M.L.C.). His mother, Maheshwari Amma, was the youngest daughter of C.V. Raman Pillai, the greatest Malayalam novelist (the first historical novelist in Malayalam and author of Marthanda Varma, Dharmaraja, Premamritham, and Ramarajabahadur), pioneering dramatist, journalist and social activist.
Bhasi was the fourth of the seven children of his parents. His siblings (two sisters and four brothers) were the late Omana Amma, the late K. Ramachandran Nair alias Chandraji, Rajalakshmi Amma, K. Padmanabhan Nair, the late K. Sankaran Nair, who died young at the age of 18, and the late K. Krishnan Nair.
His elder brother Chandraji became a film actor much before him. Chandraji entered the Film world of Bollywood and acted in a few Hindi films (Bimal Roy's Parineeta and Hrishikesh Mukherji's films) before moving over with his family to Madras to live with Adoor Bhasi. Chandraji was the manager of RK Studios owned by Raj Kapoor in Mumbai and has acted as villain in the popular Bollywood film "Ashique" alongside Raj Kapoor. Chandraji then acted in several Malayalam films like Chithram and became well known as an actor. His nephew, B. Harikumar, is a well-known Novelist, Satirist and Actor in Malayalam and has acted in several TV Serials and Feature Films.
Bhasi spent his childhood along with his parents in Trivandrum. He had his primary education in a missionary school—Vadakkekottaaram—in the capital city. After his father's premature death at the age of 44, Bhasi along with his mother and siblings moved to his father's native town of Adoor and had his middle and high school studies in the English High School of Adoor. After his school education, he moved over to Trivandrum and lived with his maternal aunt. He then joined the Institute of Textile Technology and passed the professional course of Diploma in Textile Chemistry. He did not attend any college for graduation. After acquiring the Diploma, he was to do internship in a Textile Mill in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu but owing to financial difficulties, he could not pursue the prescribed internship. He then worked as an apprentice in the Lakshmi Textiles factory in Trivandrum but could not secure a job in any Textile Mill in Travancore. He stayed put in Trivandrum and while staying with his eldest maternal aunt, B. Gourikutty Amma, for more than 12 years in Rosscote Bungalow, the house built by his maternal grandfather, C. V. Raman Pillai, began acting on the amateur stage and taking part in dramas broadcast by All India Radio, Thrivananthapuram station, along with leading stage actors of the time like C. I. Parameswaran Pillai, Kainikkara Kumara Pillai, P. K. Vikraman Nair, T. R. Sukumaran Nair, Jagathy N. K. Achary, Nagavally R. S. Kurup, Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair, P. K. Veeraraghavan Nair alias Veeran, T. N. Gopinathan Nair, Aranmula Ponnamma, Mavelikara Ponnamma, and Pattom Saraswathi Amma.
During those twelve years, he also worked as the Manager of P. K. Memorial Press run by the well-known playwright, T. N. Gopinathan Nair, and also worked as the Manager of Sakhi weekly, edited by T. N. Gopinathan Nair, Rosscote Krishna Pillai and Kavalam Narayana Panicker. His friendship with T.N. earned for him many close contacts with writers and artistes in the professional world of Malayalam drama and films. That ultimately secured for him entry into the amateur stage and finally to the Malayalam film world.
Bhasi got his first chance in an insignificant role in a Malayalam feature film, Thiramala, directed by P.R.S. Pillai. His first notable film was Chandrathara's Mudiyanaya Puthran (1961). In the year 1968, he acted in Viruthan Shanku, the first full-length comedy in Malayalam cinema by P. Venu. He went on to become one of the highly sought-after and inalienable actors and celebrities of Malayalam feature films of the 1960s and 1970s. He along with S. P. Pillai and Bahadur formed the trio that contributed to rollicking comedy scenes in Malayalam films. Bhasi went on to act in over 2000 films, mainly win supporting roles. Heacterd with almost all leading actors in Malayalam in his period, like Sathyan, Prem Nazir, Madhu, K. P. Ummer, Jayan, M. G. Soman, Sukumaran, Mammootty and Mohanlal.
He acted as the villain in Karimbana and Itha Oru Manushyan. He did double roles in Kottaram Vilkkanundu, Bhadradeepam and Lankadahanam. He got his first Kerala State Film Award for best actor in 1974 for Chattakkari. He first acted as hero in John Abraham's Cheriyachante Kroorakrithyangal (1978) and got the Kerala State Film Award for best actor in 1979. Later in 1984, he won the Kerala State Film Award for best actor for his performance in April 18 (1983). A memorial to Adoor Bhasi is being built by the District Panchayat of Pathanamthitta, the foundation stone for which was laid on 12 June 2009.
A film based on Bhasi's real-life is in the making with Dileep playing the lead role. It is based on a novel by B. Harikumar (his nephew) called Mareecham. The script work is by Harikumar himself and the film is produced and directed by Suku Menon. The location is planned out of Trivandrum and Adoor.
Adoor Bhasi is often considered one of the first film makers in South India to recognize the credentials of Kamal Hassan when he cast him as lead in his movie Adiyapadam, Kamal later became one of the greatest stars India has ever produced.
Bhasi suffered from various health problems during his last year. Being a lifelong bachelor, no one helped him. The death of his co-star Prem Nazir in January 1989 shattered him very much. Nazir was not only Bhasi's co-star in many films, but was also a childhood friend. Finally, he died on 29 March 1990, aged 63. His death occurred on the eve of his father's 52nd death anniversary. He was cremated with full state honours at his home in Adoor.
Kerala State Film Awards:1974: Best Actor – Chattakkari (directed by K. S. Sethumadhavan)
1979: Best Actor – Cheriyachante Krura Krithyangal (directed by John Abraham)
1984: Second Best Actor – April 18 (directed by Balachandra Menon)
Reghu Vamsam (1978)
Acharam Ammini Osaram Omana (1977)
"Kaduva..." - Maravil Tirivu Sookshikkuka
"Oru Roopa Nottu Koduthal..." - Lottery Ticket 1970
"Thallu Thallu..." - Abhijatyam
"Thalassery..." - Kannur Deluxe
"Kuruvi petti","Vottilla Vottilla..." - Sthanarthi Saramma
"Velutha Vavinum..."with KJ Yesudas & P Suseela - Chakravakam
"Neeya Saranam..." - Thekkan Kattu
"Manyanmare..." - Sakthi
"Pankaja Dala Nayane...", "Irattathookkam..." - Kattukurangu
"Anachal Chanda..." - Adya Kiranam
Kallupaalathil Kariyaachan ... Aadyakiranangal 1964
Manjulabhaashini Baale ... Aadyakiranangal 1964
Kannoor Dharmadam ... Aadyakiranangal 1964
Shanka Vittu Varunnallo ... Aadyakiranangal 1964
Car Lorreel Keri ... Aadyakiranangal 1964
Zindabaad Zindabaad ... Sthaanaarthi Saramma 1966
Kaduvappetti ... Sthaanaarthi Saramma 1966
Utharamadhuraapuri ... Kaattukurangu 1969
Kallukulangare ... Kaattukurangu 1969
Shyaamalam Graamaranga ... Kaattukurangu 1969
Chinchilam Chiluchilam ... Vidyarthikale Ithile Ithile 1972
Oshaakali ... Chaayam 1973
Velutha Vavinum ... Chakravaakam 1974
Naanam Maraykkaan ... Swarnnavigraham 1974
Angaadi Marunnukal ... Amrithavaahini 1976
Chora Thilaykkum kaalam ... Raghuvamsham 1978
Kokkarakko Paadum ... Onappudava 1978
Ikkaanunna Kettitadhil [Bit] ... Thuramukham 1979
Enaakshiyaarival [Bit] ... Thuramukham 1979
Angaadi Marunnukal ... Amrithavaahini 1976