A Blog on Cinema

The Best Actor in Malayalam



In the 2005 Kerala State Awards, the film Nottam got noticed for the songs and Saira for Navya Nair’s performance. Both these movies had one thing in common which was not noticed at all – Nedumudi Venu.In Nottam, a film based on Koodiyattam, he played the role of a Chakyar who realizes the immense possibilities for him and his art when he starts a website and conducts a performance tour abroad. In Saira he played the character Ustad Ali Hussain, a ghazal singer. What make it more interesting is the fact that Venu looks like a Chakyar in Nottam and a Ghazal singer in Saira.

This is not the first time Nedumudi Venu has done this for in each of his movies, he has a different look. In Bharatham, he was Mohanlal’s brother and in Thanmatra he was Mohanlal’s father. In an interview Sukumari once mentioned that Venu has acted has her father, brother, husband and son which displays the wide range this talented actor has. In his films, you don’t see the actor, but the character.

There are many talented stars in Malayalam, who look the same whether they are playing police, thief, kathakali artiste or a historical character. They emote very well with the face, but they do not become the character. Their mannerisms and body language do not change and remain that of the actor not the character. Occasionally they do some movies in which they look ugly or old, but that is an exception and not the norm due to the fear of taking risks.

The stars also cannot be blamed entirely for this. Lot of viewers go for a movie based on who is acting in it rather than who made it or who wrote it. When such decisions are made, they prefer to see the star on screen, doing the same things he has been doing for decades. The movies in which these stars have tried to become characters have not got much viewership and producers are not encouraged to make such movies any more. Fortunately character actors like Nedumudi Venu are not bound by such restrictions.

After making his debut in Aravindan’s Thampu, he has played a wide range of characters, none of which look the same. In fact, Nedumudi Venu is one of those actors alongwith Kamal Hassan who does not have a constant face.

One of his admirers is Kamal Haasan who makes it a point to talk about Nedumudi’s versatility and spontaneity in many of his interviews, and also give Nedumudi meaty roles in his films; Nedumudi otherwise sticks to Malayalam films. Even thespian Sivaji Ganesan was said to be an admirer of Nedumudi Venu’s talent. They became close on the sets of the Malayalam film Yatramozhi, which had Sivaji and Mohanlal in the lead roles.[Kamal-Rajni films clash on April 14]

One of our favourite movies of Nedumudi Venu is Oru Minnaminunginte Nuruguvettam which had him play an old man. He would have got the national award for that role, but was edged out by Kamal Hassan’s Nayagan.

Even though he deserves the national award for the best actor in countless movies, he got only as far as winning the best supporting actor for His Highness Abdullah and special mention for Maargam.We rate Nedumudi Venu much higher, above all the superstars, in Malayalam industry.

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  1. Nedumudi Venu along with veteran actor Thilakan are the best of the the actors that Malayalam has… But they have not been much recoganized and awarded for their performances, for the movies in which they have acted, or rather should I say lived as the characters, they became so involved, people seldom saw Venu or Thilakan there but the characters.
    Sabu Cyril, the versatile art director, once mentioned about art direction that as the sets became more and more natural, people tend to forget the difficulties and the effort that has been put into that. Similarly these actors become very much the characters they portray, they become life like and people over see them. That was the ability of these actors. Malayalam film world should be proud of these great veterans of acting.

  2. Very true.Venu and Thilakan should have bagged many Bharat awards if the justification was correctly made to the verdict:”Best Actor”. Who said only heroes can be considered as best actors? We have better actors when compared to heroes in other states as well.Chaaruhasan,Prakash Raj,Naazar,Om Puri,Nasuredden Shah etc.etc. A top artist in Malayalam recently commented on Unnaipol Oruvan:”If it was a mear competition of two actors to be considered,Prakash Raj or Naazer would have been casted in the role of Mohanlal.” I agree to that statement completely. Directors should keep faith in an actor’s potential and look at pubilc opinions to judge who is the best actor.There shouldn’t be any concept for supporting actor.It’s just a compliment giving for someone who is denied for the best.

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