Navarasa and Aanum Pennum: Nedumudi Venu’s recent performances came in anthologies

An actor who always adapted to the times, he appeared in two anthologies this year, one in Malayalam and the other in Tamil, playing his roles to perfection as usual.
Nedumudi Venu in Aanum Pennum
Nedumudi Venu in Aanum Pennum
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He played the hero, the sidekick, the antagonist, the comedian, and he adapted to the times. Nedumudi Venu made his film debut in Malayalam in the late 1970s, at a time when Jayan was emerging as a star to reckon with. Mohanlal and Mammootty – the stars to be – were yet to make their mark. Nedumudi grew with them, as an actor – sometimes playing the lead, other times the supporting character to their lead. In the late 80s, while still in his 30s, he began playing elderly characters double his age and seemed to enjoy doing them. Looking back, he was only 42 when he played the elderly old man in His Highness Abdullah. Nedumudi, who breathed his last on Monday, was an actor who kept up with the times.

No wonder then that the last two of his releases – one in Malayalam and the other in Tamil – were anthologies, one on a streaming platform and the other in theatres (while they were briefly open between COVID-19 lockdowns).

The Malayalam one came first. Nedumudi and senior actor Kaviyoor Ponnamma playing an aged couple in a segment of Aanum Pennum. They are not your picture-perfect old couple, nice and warm and bursting with affection. They are full of humour though, sharing stories and laughing over the idiosyncrasies of the young. They are also unexpectedly vile, but you catch that too late. Darshana Rajendran and Roshan Mathew play a young couple in the film and the older pair pops up quite unexpectedly on the screen. Nedumudi appears to enjoy playing the crooked old man, the shameless eavesdropper, but that’s the love for acting reflecting on his face.

Watch: Scenes from Aanum Pennum

The Tamil anthology is recent – Navarasa, with a segment each for the nine emotions. Nedumudi’s role featured in the segment for humour, Summer of ’92. Yogi Babu plays the lead, coming back as a celebrity to his alma mater. In his younger days, Yogi’s character had been a troublemaker at the school, repeating the same class year after year because he would always get off on the wrong foot with a teacher. Nedumudi plays the tired old principal, who is trying to get his daughter (Remya Nambeesan) – another teacher at the school – married off. When finally a match is almost made, the kid royally messes it up too. Though the film was not so funny, Nedumudi played the role of the worried dad who got dragged into comical situations well.

There are yet-to-release films - Mohanlal starrers Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea and Aarattu, Mammootty-Parvathy Thiruvothu film Puzhu, Manju Warrier's Jack & Jill, Dr Biju's Orange Marangulude Veetil among them.

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