Malayalam actor Nedumudi Venu passes away at 73

In a career spanning more than four decades and over 500 films, Venu has portrayed a wide range of characters and also won three National awards

Nedumudi Venu, one of Malayalam cinema’s most versatile character actors, passed away on Monday afternoon. He was 73. He was admitted to a private hospital on Sunday following liver-related ailments.

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In a career spanning more than four decades and over 500 films, Venu has portrayed a wide range of characters that portrayed his histrionic skills. After proving his mettle on the stage, being a member of Kavalam Narayana Panicker’s drama troupe, he made his film debut with G. Aravindan’s Thambu in 1978. He showed the first signs of his brilliance a year later, as Chellappanshari in Padmarajan’s Thakara.

One of his most memorable roles came in 1981, as the eponymous thief in Padmarajan’s Kallan Pavithran. The first of his three National Awards came in 1990 for the supporting role as Udaya Varma Thampuran in His Highness Abdullah. That year also witnessed Bharatham, one of the highest points of his career, as a Carnatic vocalist who is slowly losing his music to his drinking habit. Both these films, as well as Chithram in 1988, had him sharing the spotlight with Mohanlal, and holding his own. He has also won five Kerala State Film Awards for Best Actor.

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In later years, he was seen more in the role of elder patriarch of the family, almost getting typecast in it. But, he did continue to spring surprises, like he did in the ‘Rani’ segment in Aanum Pennum earlier this year, which had him a short but impactful role, as a crooked old man. He has also essayed notable roles in Tamil films including Indian, Anniyan and Sarvam Thaala Mayam.

Venu was also an accomplished percussionist and a singer, with his renderings of folk songs having a popular following, be it Athiru Kakkum from Sarvakalashala or the song Iru Thala Pakshi with singer Job Kurien.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who condoled the actor’s passing away, said that Nedumudi Venu has found a place in the hearts of the people playing a variety of characters. Opposition leader V.D. Satheesan also condoled his death.

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