When he was born the youngest of brothers in a Kuttanad family, his folks who had hoped for a girl child raised him like one for the first few years. Malayalam script writer John Paul, known for his detailed reminiscences of old times, spoke about Nedumudi Venu's childhood days after the latter died. Nedumudi, an actor who gained recognition over and over again through his four-decade old career, was 73 when he died of illnesses in a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram last week. Tributes have since been pouring in from people in the film industry and audiences all over the world who were fond of the actor with many expressions and talents.
Nedumudi reportedly told John Paul that having to behave like a girl when he identified as a boy built his skill for acting from an early age. A taste for percussion was also observed during Nedumudi's childhood. Renowned director Fazil who was a great friend of Nedumudi, wrote in a newspaper obit that the actor got admission in college because the principal remembered the little boy who did wonderfully on the mridangam many years ago.
Fazil and Nedumudi were the greatest of friends, John Paul reminisced. In the days they were in college, the two would cut class and sneak out to watch movies. On one such occasion they came across an acquaintance of Nedumudi's father. Afraid that the acquaintance might snitch on Nedumudi, the two young friends suddenly began to fake disability. They walked like men with disabilities to avoid recognition and it worked, John Paul said, remembering the story as Fazil had once narrated to him.
The two friends briefly went their separate ways when Kavalam Narayana Panicker, renowned playwright, "adopted" Nedumudi into theatre and took him to Thiruvananthapuram. Fazil went to the world of cinema, which Nedumudi would join after his days in the theatre and a brief stint as a journalist. The journalism happened, John Paul says, because when Kavalam brought Nedumudi to Thiruvananthapuram, he had to earn an income. It was filmmaker G Aravindan and Kavalam who recommended Nedumudi to Kalakaumudi, the magazine that hired him.
John Paul got acquainted with him 40 to 42 years ago, he said. The friendship had lasted all this while. Once or twice a month, John Paul and Nedumudi used to call each other. But Nedumudi never liked to talk about his illnesses, so John never asked about his health. But he was afraid, seeing Nedumudi's condition in the last days, that the sad news would come any time soon. When it did, John was still stunned, he said; he could not take in for a moment that â€śVenu ini illaâ€ť â€“ there is no more Venu.
Watch: John Paul talks about Nedumudi Venu