RIP Nedumudi Venu: An indelible legend of Malayalam cinema

In a career spanning more than four decades covering 500 films, Venu portrayed a wide range of characters that showed his histrionic prowess

Parvati Sasankan Oct 14, 2021
Image
Nedumudi Venu

One of Malayalam cinema’s most versatile character actors Nedumudi Venu, who passed away on October 11 following liver-related ailments, was born the youngest of five sons of P.V.Kesavan Pillai and Kunjikutti Amma in Nedumadi - a backwater village that he made famous – in Alleppey district of southern India’s Kerala state. Venu took to acting quite early during his school days. 

In a career spanning more than four decades covering 500 films, Venu portrayed a wide range of characters that showed his histrionic prowess. After proving his mettle on stage, as a member of Kavalam Narayana Panicker’s drama troupe, he made his film debut with G.Arvindan’s Thambu in 1978. He won the national award for the best supporting actor in 1990 and a special mention in 2003, besides six state awards. He is known for his versatility and bringing the essence of every role he portrayed with ease which struck a chord with many.

His obvious talent soon struck a chord with stalwarts like director Bharathan and Padmarajan. He grew to become an actor who could be a part of both parallel cinema and romantic comedies. He was associated with the most versatile of movies in his career even cutting across languages. On the acting front, he had giants like Bharat Gopy and Thilakan to compete within his formative years; something which Venu used to further polish himself as an actor. He once said, “When an actor at the other end tends to magnify his talents there is no other way for you but to raise yourself.”

Venu was an avid reader of literature and always perfect in his roles, be it cinema or theatre. He always steered away from controversies and maintained the image of a gentleman actor. Here is a look at his major award-winning performances:

His Highness Abdullah (Maharaja Udayverma): National Award for best-supporting actor 1990 - He was only 42 when he played the character of Maharaja Udayverma who was above 60 years. He immortalized the regal old man, connoisseur of classical music who couldn’t realize the true intentions of his kin. Mohanlal played the lead role in the film.

Margam (Venukumara Menon) National Special Jury award: State Best actor 2003 - Venu played a former militant communist revolutionary who lives a secluded life as a professor in a local college.

Chamaram – State Award for Second Best Actor 1980: He played the role of a shy catholic priest who is also a college student and is slightly bullied by boys and girls of the college. This particular film showcased his versatility.

Vidyaparayum Munpe – State Award for Best Actor in 1981: He played the role of Xavier, a stenographer who tries to make his final days a cheerful as possible even as he keeps his terminal illness a secret.