When I joined SD College in Alappuzha, both Fazil and Nedumudi Venu had already left the institution. But their artistic legacy still echoed in the corridors. Both were that popular and were good mimicry artists. I have seen their mimicry performance in different venues and was a great admirer of their talent. Later, I was lucky enough to associate with Venu Chettan in many movies during my stint as an assistant director.
Later, when both Sreenivasan and I finalised the script for Mutharamkunnu PO, my debut movie as a director, there was no doubt in us in casting Venu Chettan as Fayalvan Kuttan Pillai. He portrayed the character with utmost elan and gave it the right humour touch. In fact, from then own, he associated with me as an actor in almost all my movies which helped me in carving a niche in the Malayalam movie industry. He portrayed the character of a 65-year-old in my movie Chekkaran Oru Chilla. Without any ego, he accepted the character with an open mind when his contemporaries played the role of his children.
It was his versatility in presenting the characters that kept him above other actors. In Dasaratham, he portrayed the character of Kariyachan, Mohanlal’s friend. I still remember the scene in which Venu Chettan reacts to Rajeevan’s (Mohanlal) request to give Kariyachan’s child for him to adopt. An actor who can live a particular moment can only come up with such a natural response. He was one such wonderful natural actor.
His flair for music has also helped me as a filmmaker. Be it in His Highness Abdullah or Bharatham, his perfect lip-sync with the song had elevated the quality of the scenes. The only project which didn’t materialise with Venu Chettan is the movie on the lines of Veendum Chila Veettu Karyangal. Though Lohi (Lohithdas) and I worked out the story for a movie with Mohanlal as a drama enthusiast and Venu Chettan as his father, it didn’t materialise. Our plan was to do it after His Highness Abdullah. Lohi got stuck in the writer’s block and we later did Bharatham.
If you ask me to come up with some of his outstanding performances, it’s really hard to pick because right from Chellappanasari in Thakara to the recently released Aanum Pennum, Venu Chettan had scripted a new dimension in acting in hundreds of movies. Almost all of them are versatile.