Eminent actor Nedumudi Venu, who passed away on October 11 at the age of 73, worked as a journalist with Kalakaumudi.

Nedumudi VenuScreengrab/APIMalayalam
Flix Tribute Monday, October 11, 2021 - 18:44

As a young man from a small village in Alappuzha’s Kuttanadu, Nedumudi Venu left for Thiruvananthapuram to start his career in theatre. In his twenties, Nedumudi Venu joined director Kavalam Narayana Panicker’s theatre group, along with director G Aravindan. “Next I needed a job to survive in Thiruvananthapuram,” the late veteran actor Nedumudi Venu said in an earlier interview to Kaumudy TV. Aravindan then introduced Nedumudi Venu to veteran journalist MS Mani, who was heading the weekly news magazine, Kalakaumudi.

“Aravind, who knew Mani Sir, told him, ‘Venu is an actor in our theatre. It is our need that he stays here in Thiruvananthapuram. So please give him a job.’ He didn’t know how to lie,” Nedumudi Venu laughed as he recalled the meeting. Journalist Mani instantly gave Nedumudi Venu his job as a journalist. “I had complete freedom and wrote on multiple topics. It was one of the finest years of my life as a youngster.”

It was while juggling a career as a journalist and a theatre artist that Nedumudi Venu found an opportunity in the world of cinema in the mid-1970s. In fact, he bagged the major role that was first meant for Kamal Haasan, whose acting profile had already been swelling with numerous Tamil and Malayalam movies by then.

As part of his job as a journalist, Nedumudi Venu used to go to film locations and interview stars, including such as Sheela, Prem Nazir and Adoor Bhasi. It was during one such interview with director Bharathan that Nedumudi Venu landed his first major role, in the 1978 movie, Aaravam. "He (Bharathan) somehow developed a fondness for me during the interview and asked me to meet him that evening. We met and sang songs together, and slowly, our relationship was established. I was introduced as a theatre artist, too. Later, he told me about his next movie and that he had Kamal Haasan in mind,” recalled Nedumudi Venu.

“As we discussed further, he told me, ‘Now I am thinking if we need Kamal Haasan; can't you act, Venu?’ I said, 'Why not?' I was ready to do any role at the time to showcase my talent and skill, in whatever way possible. I had no inhibitions. I was not looking at money, but I just wanted to pursue art,” he said.

Watch: Nedumudi Venu on getting Kamal Haasan's role

Recounting when he came to Thiruvananthapuram for the first time to become a theatre artist, he said, “It’s not that I didn’t want to act in films, but as someone from a village in Kuttanad, it was beyond my dreams.”

Nedumudi Venu then went on to become one of the most respected, revered and versatile actors in the Malayalam film industry. With a career that spanned across more than four decades, he acted in over 500 films, including Malayalam and some Tamil movies. With his death on Monday, October 11, he has left behind some memorable characters that are etched in the minds and hearts of the audience.

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