Veteran actor Nedumudi Venu dies at 73
Noted Malayalam actor Nedumudi Venu, who acted in more than 500 south Indian films and won three national awards, died in a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. Suffering from multiple ailments, Venu’s condition deteriorated due to post-Covid complications. He was 73 and survived by his wife TR Susheela, and two sons.
Known for his versatile roles, the thespian started his acting career in drama and later switched to the cinema, becoming a colossus in the Malayalam tinsel world for more than five decades. An actor for all seasons, Venu’s instant wit and depth in folk songs and musical instruments were well known. A close disciple of late theatre personality Kavalam Naryana Panicker, he acted in many classical dance dramas.
Personalities from the Malayalam film industry, Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan were among the first to pay rich tributes to Venu.
“He is one of the finest actors in Malayalam/Indian cinema. His profound knowledge of traditional art forms and Indian style of acting reflected in his unique performances,” the governor said in his condolence message.
“We have lost a versatile personality, and it is a big loss to the cinema world in particular,” Vijayan said.
“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,” actor Prithviraj Sukumaran wrote on Twitter.
“He was first to break the handsome and tall hero concept in Malayalam movie. He floored reigning heroes with his acting prowess,” said director and lyricist Sreekumaran Thampi.
“Not just an actor, he is a complete artist,” said Kamal Hassan, adding that he lost a good friend. Actors Mamooty, Mohanlal, Jayaram, Dulquar Salman, Tovino Thomas and Manju Warrier also poured in their condolences to the family of the veteran actor.
Hailing from Nedumudi, a small village in Kuttanad (central Kerala), Venu’s chance encounter with famous director Bharathan to interview for a local film magazine in the late 70s opened doors for his film entry. The director was moved by his peculiar mannerism and instant wit and promised him a role in his next film.
However, his debut happened in 1978 when he featured in national-award-winning director G Aravindan’s film Thampu. Bharathan’s Aaravam (1979) cemented his place in Mollywood.
Besides Malayalam, Venu also acted in Tamil movies. His role in the 2005 movie ‘Anniyan’ and 2019 movie ‘Sarvam Thaala Mayam’ were critically acclaimed. In 2007, he also acted in an English movie Chaurahen. The release of his last film Marakkar, directed by Priyadarshan, was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 1990, Venu got the national award for supporting actor for his role in the Malayalam movie High Highness Abdullah, special jury award for Margam in 2003 and best feature film narration award in Minukku in 2006. He got the Kerala State Film Award six times.