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Tribute: When Nedumudi Venu told Jyothi Venkatesh, “If you opt to act only in art house films, you can never be able to sustain yourself as an actor and hence you must act in mainstream films too”

Nedumudi Venu, one of India’s finest actors, passed away today afternoon at the age of 73.

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Nedumudi Venu

Nedumudi Venu, one of India’s finest actors, passed away today afternoon at the age of 73. Venu was undergoing treatment for stomach-related ailments at a hospital in Kerala. Beginning his career as a theater actor, Nedumudi Venu made his debut in Malayalam films way back in 1978 with G. Aravindan’s  film Thambu. The actor handled many versatile roles in a remarkable career and was quite active as an actor till the last days.

In a rare interview taken 14 years ago during the IFFI Goa, Nedumudi Venu, whose four Malayalam films were showcased tells JYOTHI VENKATESH in this free and frank interview that the star system does not create havoc in Malayalam Cinema since there are brilliant actors like Mammootty and Mohanlal

IFFI is showcasing four different films of yours in Malayalam. How do you feel?

I feel very elated and satisfied as an actor that I have been blessed with this great opportunity of reaching a vast majority of audience through IFFI this year. My films Saira, Thanmatra, Mangamma and Nottam feature in the IFFI this year. I am happy that as an actor, every character of mine has been different from one another.

Is it your first visit to Goa?

It is my second visit to Goa. Though I am attending IFFI for the first time in Goa, I had earlier come to Goa to shoot for Priyadarshan’s Malayalam film Chandralekha.

Also read: A tribute to Raaj Kumar on his birth anniversary!

Do you advocate that Goa should be the permanent venue for IFFI?

There is a nice environment in Goa though sadly film culture is missing. It is my personal opinion that there should be focus only on films during IFFI because it does not augur well for film culture if you combine films with tourism.

What is your role in the film Saira?

I play the role of a famous musician called Ustad Ali Hussein.It is basically a poignant and sensitive tale of a father and daughter. The film does not focus on a conventional story. The film is all about how the calm life of the father and the daughter becomes terribly restless when Saira is missing when a communal riot breaks out in Kashmir.

What is your approach as an actor?

I try to be different in each film of mine as far as behavior, appearance etc are concerned. Sometimes I am lucky enough to get important roles, which demand the interpretation of an actor. It is not easy to get such roles all the time. As an actor, I try to inspire my director with my performance and also try to extract the maximum output for my inputs from the director and give him what he demands from me as an actor. I create a portrait of the character by getting the maximum details as well as the subtlety of moments of the character. Most of the time my interpretation is accepted and appreciated by my directors. If however it is not an unusual role, I just do it routinely.

Also read: “If I failed in politics, the reason is I did not have the potential”, Amitabh Bachchan tells Jyothi Venkatesh

Have you acted in Hindi films too?

I had acted under the direction of Shankar in two Tamil films- Indian and Anniyan, which in turn were dubbed into Hindi with the titles Hindustani and Aparachit. As of now the only straight Hindi film in which I had acted was Sai Paranjpye’s Bhago Bhooth.

Does the star system create havoc in Malayalam Cinema?

I would not say the star system creates havoc in Malayalam Cinema though there is a star system, because fortunately for us we have stars like Mohanlal and Mammootty who also happen to be brilliant actors.

How do you strike the balance between art house films and mainstream commercial films as an actor?

I made my debut with G. Aravindan’s Malayalam film Thampu way back in 1978. My path began with me having my roots as an actor with brilliant directors who used to make out of the box films like K.G. George, Bharathan and John Abraham besides Aravindan. If you opt to act only in art house films, you can never be able to sustain yourself as an actor and hence you must act in mainstream films too. You should know how to give importance to the situation.

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