KOCHI: Nestled between the Western Ghats and the coastline, Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, has its own culture. The lush green paddy fields, serene backwaters, coconut trees lining the banks, country boats and folk songs resonate the rhythm of Kuttanad and that rhythm was the essence of Nedumudi Venu’s talent.
“The gentle breeze that smells the sweat of workers in the paddy field, the rhythm of the water wheel, the oars of country boats — Kuttanad has its own rhythm and culture. It is deeply rooted in the unique culture of the land. The rhythm was an inborn talent of Nedumudi. It was evident in his gestures, voice modulation and character. He had a passion for folk arts and classical art forms,” said poet and historian Dr Ambalapuzha Gopakumar.
“Venu joined the first batch of Malayalam literature degree course at Alappuzha SD College. He used to represent the college in the university youth festival. He used to play mridangam, ghadam and ganjira. He had a passion for classical art forms like Kathakali and Koodiyattom, which helped him get associated with Kavalam Narayana Panicker,” he said.
In 1969, there was a drama competition in Alappuzha where Nedumudi acted in a play written by director Fazil who was his collegemate. Kavalam Narayana Panicker, who was one of the judges at the competition, invited Nedumudi to join his theatre movement. It was his association with Kavalam that helped Nedumudi finetune his talent. The use of music, rhythm, dance and stylised dialogues of Kavalam had a big influence on Nedumudi.
His flair for folk music was cleverly utilised by many directors including Venu Nagavally (Athiru kakkum mala onnu thuduthe in Sarvakalasala). The other popular folk songs immortalised by Nedumudi include Aalayal thara venam..., ente vaalingedutho... and Verumoru moshtavayorenne ....
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#nedumudivenu was a legend, but every role he got into, he would try and get under the skin of the character, for Vembu Iyer in #sarvanthaalamayam, he met #umayalpuramsivaraman spent time and he just got it right. Missyou!
Nedumudi Venu. A gem of an artiste. Almost a genius. He will be remembered and celebrated for his numerous roles that he did in cinema. My most fav role of his is undoubtedly Yavanika. Wait what about Thakara or Kallan Pavithran or many many more
Big loss to the film fraternity. Venu chettan RoseLegend #NedumudiVenu
Farewell Venu uncle! Your body of work and your expertise over the craft will forever be research material for generations to come! Rest in peace legend! #NedumudiVenu
Rest in Peace Venu uncle ! One of our finest actors and one of the kindest human beings.
#heartbroken #unfathomableloss #RIP
Deeply saddened to hear about the demise of a great legendary actor #NedumudiVenu sir. Not only was he a great actor but also a wonderful human being. Had the honour of my husband directing him in one of his films. Will miss him. May his soul rest in peace. #RIP
His Highness of kingdom of arts: Mohanlal
Venu Chettan, who was the soul of the Malayalam film world for half a century has departed us. After starting out in theatre, he went on to conquer the peaks of method acting in films. His demise is one of the biggest losses for the industry. Personally, it’s a painful loss for me. We acted together in many movies. I am not able to pay a fitting tribute to a peerless personality like Venuchettan who also had a deep knowledge gained through voracious reading. Venuchettan is the ‘His Highness’ of the kingdom of arts. And the warmth of his heart will never fade away.
Averse to acting in ad films
Nedumudi Venu was apparently averse to do advertisement films, and he rarely endorsed products/brands. Perhaps, the only ad he acted in is for is for low-cost airline Air Deccan, founded by G R Gopinath. Maybe, he endorsed it as it was the first airline that made flying affordable for the common populace.
‘Kairali Vilasam Lodge’, the first full-length comedy TV serial in Malayalam, broadcast by Doordarshan in 1988, was directed by Nedumudi Venu. The serial was a big hit. Nedumudi also portrayed the role of Abdul Khader in ‘Poovanpazham’, the telefilm based on Vaikom Mohammed Basheer’s short story of the same name.
National award for best actor eluded him
Nedumudi Venu, surprisingly, never won the national award for the best actor. The closest he came was in 1988 when he was in the running for his role in Oru Minnaminunginte Nurunguvettam. Mammootty’s roles in New Delhi and Thaniyavarthanam also came for consideration. As the votes for Malayalam got split, Kamal Haasan won the national award for his role in Nayakan.