Talking exclusively to OTTplay, Priyadarshan recounts working with Nedumudi Venu, who was the hero of his first film and whom he had also directed in the latter's final movie Summer of '92 from the Netflix anthology Navarasa
Director Priyadarshan and actor Nedumudi Venu, who passed away today due to post COVID complications in Thiruvananthapuram, shared a special relationship. In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, moments after the veteran actor’s demise, the filmmaker recounted their camaraderie and what made Venu one of the greatest actors in Malayalam cinema.
Priyadarshan is also the last filmmaker Venu had worked with when they collaborated for Summer of ’92, a segment in the Netflix anthology Navarasa. “More than an actor, he was like an elder brother to me. We are both from Kuttanad and we knew each other even before we came into the film industry,” says Priyadarshan to OTTplay. “He was the hero of my first film and I had also directed his last. His last release could also be mine, Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham.”
On what made Venu stand apart from his contemporaries, the filmmaker says, “For his acting was like taking breath. He is probably the first person to change his get-up for every character he played. In many films, you wouldn’t realise it was Venu chettan who was playing the character because of that at one point. I don’t think any other actor has created so many looks for his roles.”
Many from the industry also hail Venu because of his skills in music – something that Priyadarshan too had made use of in his superhit film Chithram. “He was a very good musician and percussionist. Apart from being a great actor, he had a good sense of rhythm and poetry. He was a complete actor. After watching Chithram, Ilaiyaraaja had told me that ‘this man is magical’ because it’s never easy to play the mridangam and sing. To do both, you need an acute sensibility of rhythm that Venu chettan had.”
Priyadarshan is probably the director with whom Venu had worked with for the greatest number of films in his 500-plus-movies-long filmography. “I have done about 33 films with him in a span of 38 years. I remember he won a State Award for my film Thenmavin Kombathu. The saddest thing is that he never won the National Award for Best Actor. He actually deserved it,” concludes the director.