Sethurama Iyer

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Sethurama Iyer
CBI film series character
Mammootty as Sethurama Iyer.
First appearanceOru CBI Diary Kurippu (1988)
Last appearanceNerariyan CBI (2005)
Created byS. N. Swamy, K. Madhu
Portrayed byMammootty
OccupationOfficer, Central Bureau of Investigation
ReligionHindu (Brahmin)

Sethurama Iyer. (Malayalam: സേതുരാമയ്യര്, alternate spelling Sethuramayyar) is a fictional character, and the protagonist of the CBI investigative thriller series of films in Malayalam directed by K. Madhu. The character was played by Mammootty in four films so far.[1]

Sethurama Iyer is an investigative officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Indian equivalent of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. Iyer's popularity is attributed to the fact that he uses his brain rather than brawn to solve cases. The suspense-filled narration of the movies and the novelty of the investigative thriller genre also contributed to its success and becoming a household name among the moviegoers of Kerala. The character is said to have been inspired by a police officer named Radhavinod Raju, who in 2009 was appointed as the first chief of India's National Investigation Agency.[2][3]


The character is said to have been inspired by the police officer Radhavinod Raju, who in 2009 was appointed as the first chief of India's National Investigation Agency.[2] Raju's excellence while probing the Polakulam Peethambaran murder case and SI Soman murder case, when he was acting as Superintend of CBI Kochi, attracted the attention of many. His "Dummy-to-Dummy" experiment in Polakulam Peethambaran murder case was used in Oru CBI Diary Kurippu. When Oru CBI Diary Kurippu became a hit, Mammootty became more famous in films and Raju in his services. Incidentally, Raju was Mammootty's senior in Maharajas College.[4]

Radhavinod Raju was also associated with the probes into Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and hijacking of Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar. The films Mission 90 Days (which starred Mammootty) and Kandahar were respectively inspired by the operations of Raju in these cases.[4]


Sethurama Iyer is depicted with a distinctive style in the films. The character is heavily based on Kerala Iyers (A Brahmin community which resides mostly in the Palakkad region of Kerala, though significant populations also reside in Cochin and Travancore). Mammootty thus in the series speaks Malayalam with traces of Tamil to represent the fact that the native language of this community is Tamil. The most charactertistic mannerism associated with him is his peculiar gait, as he folds both his arms behind his back while walking. He used to scratch his head using forefinger as a gesture while he is in intense conceptualization. In the first movie Oru CBI Diarykkurippu, he was shown as chewing betel, but this was dropped in the later films. His entries and exits in most scenes of the movies are punctuated by the signature background score of the series, composed by Shyam. He is always shown wearing a kumkum stripe on his forehead. He usually wears plain light coloured half sleeve shirt and dark plain trousers, without tucking in. He is mostly cool even under intense provocation and displays his subtle sense of humour and extreme foresight from time to time. He is married, and has a son, who appears in the film 'Jagratha', though not reappearing later.

Originally K. Madhu, the director of the film series had visualised the protagonist of the first film in the series as a tough cop named Ali Imran. It was Mammootty who convinced him that a pious intelligent Tamil Brahmin would be better. The name Ali Imran was adapted for hero character in another K. Madhu's thriller movie Moonnam Mura, starring Mohanlal as Ali Imran[1]


Year Movie Directed
1988 Oru CBI Diarykkurippu K. Madhu
1989 Jagratha K. Madhu
2004 Sethurama Iyer CBI K. Madhu
2005 Nerariyan CBI K. Madhu


  1. ^ a b Pillai, Sreedhar. "`I want to play lead roles'". Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b "NIA chief inspired hit film 20 yrs ago". Hindusthan Times. Archived from the original on 2012-04-17.
  3. ^ "A crack investigative team". hindu. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Mamooty pays obeisance to `Sethurama Iyer'". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 22 June 2012.

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