Prem Nazir | Sketches in Dark Grey

Prem Nazir, the Villain Prem Nazir, to me, shone with a eerie glow and exuded this creepy chill every time he chose to take those roles that  lived in the twilight zone – that grey area where morality for reasons best know to itself, chose to rest behind closed doors. I think he could have been one of the finest ‘villians‘ ( a rather broad term, if you please ) of Malayalam cinema, had he gravitated towards those, than the treacle-covered ones  that we are all so familiar with and have come to love, but then, it wouldn’t have been the same story altogether. It is surprising that this facet of his gets  hardly any mention, save for the oft-repeated role from Azhakulla Celina in 1973, as the movie scribes snow you down with his roles that had his trademark characteristics that regaled us. [ The movie title in English spells Saleena, but try as I might, just didn’t have the heart to spell it that way here :) ]

He was not all  …………….. ( insert Sheela/Sharada/Jayabharathy as you please) + a lone tree + a great romantic song composition, you know, they just didn’t have the inclination nor the daring to use him for onscreen adventures that he had so proved adept at, given the chance and the opportunity. He was best when he was not always the perfect male onscreen. I am sure the surprise that evoked in us, the avid viewers also helped to make these adventures indelible in our memories, more than his cheesy, strait-jacketed romantic expeditions that replicated itself, over and over again, movie after movie.

The following are the ones, for me,  that Prem Nazir did a fantastic job of reveling in the grey zone, and interestingly it bordered on broadly two sectors . It was either the quiet, malevolent, lustful badass coveting another one’s wife, from his immediate circle or the wimpy, weepy, indecisive soul bent by social obligations and who implodes by the end of the proceedings. Please note that these are the ones that stresses on moral ambiguity than the ones found across the fair and straight road to domestic nirvana that he traverses in the rest, and please do write in with the ones that you think are your favorites.

Kuttikkuppaayam (1964)

Prem Nazir in Kuttikkuppaayam The legendary producer TE Vasudevan reveals in an interview that Prem Nazir had offered to do this movie for free as his previous movie with Associated Pictures, Sathyabhama (1963) turned out to be a ‘mythological nightmare’ financially. Kuttikuppayam was made with a paltry budget of Rs 98,000, but this time it ruled the box-office. Though Prem Nazir had played shades of the wimpy, malleable and ‘impressionable’ hero ( remember Ponkathir [1953] ? ), Kuttikuppaayam was what brought it on, all cylinders firing.  Based on a story by Moithu Padiyath, Kuttikuppayam explored the ‘one-sided’ stigma attached to infertility ( it was ALWAYS the woman’s fault ) and the manipulation of the institution of marriage  against the backdrop of the traditional Muslim society.

Prem Nazir is Jabbar, a successful coconut trader, happily married, childless and dotes on his wife, despite the occasional taunts by his mother ( Philomena in one of her most memorable roles ). Her manipulations and emotional blackmail ends up getting … separated from his wife and getting remarried again to his mother’s niece that is soon headed towards Horrorville. His separated dear wife ( Ambica in a drenched-in-tears role ) gets married to an unsuspecting  Madhu  and soon becomes pregnant. Prem Nazir, devastated on getting to know this from a family friend,  gathers courage to have himself medically examined and confirms his worst fears. It had always been him. But, back home, the family is overjoyed. The new bride is pregnant ! Right from the point where his mother introduces the possibility of a mutually agreed separation, we see Jabbar bend far over backwards, trying to appease everyone, specially his mother, as he gets slowly eaten away inside and the twist of fate in the end makes him almost lose his sanity and his bearings. His onscreen journey was a refreshing change from the staple ‘romances’ till then. I think Prem Nazir had an extraordinary ability to portray hearts in the doldrums, more than his perfect lip-synchs, hip-squeezes and generally looking dashingly handsome. There is a part in the movie where he almost loses his emotional bearings towards the end of the movie where he addresses his now-repentant mother, wife and himself – all at one go. That man was a sheer pleasure to watch.

The classic “Innente karaliley” from Kuttikkuppayam (1964).

Ashwamedham ( 1967)

Prem Nazir in Ashwamedham The spine-less weepy, wimp resurfaces again in a role, adapted for the screen from KPAC’s popular theater production. Prem Nazirs Mohan, the smitten-lover who even decides to go ahead with his wedding to his beloved against his parents’ wishes ( they cave-in at the last moment ), powered by mutual affection and attraction so strong that it even gave us one of the ‘finest songs of anticipation’ in Malayalam cinema – the eternal “Ezhu sundara rathrikal” . The lover boy  does an amazing back-flip when he comes to know that his soon-to-be bride has contracted leprosy and puts the wedding on hold, but still refuses to be convinced when his dear friend assures him that the malady has been banished and she is normal and healthy. His moot question, “Err..ദാക്ടെര്‍,  നിങ്ങള്‍ പറയുന്നത് ശരിയായിരിക്കാം, പക്ഷെ err..എനിക്ക് വിശ്വാസം വരുന്നില്ല.” ( in typical Prem Nazirspeak ) has to be one of the classic lines in Malayalam movies ever, for turning tail and slinking away. Though the onscreen adaptation turned out to be a watered-down and mostly plastic rendering of a hugely successful theater production, Prem Nazir‘s Mohan still managed to salvage some semblance of dignity of the role from the original. And a memorable wimpy one, nevertheless.

One of the ‘finest songs of anticipation’ in Malayalam cinema, courtesy Ashwamedham.

Kalli Chellamma (1969)

Prem Nazir in Kalli Chellamma

Kunjachen from Kalli Chellamma proved male chauvinism and cowardice could beautifully co-exist, if given a suitable nourishing environment like country toddy. Prem Nazir was Kunjachen, the motor-pump operator contracted by the village agricultural co-op to drain out the flooded paddies. It doesn’t take long for this handsome and  dashing  young man to smile and flirt his way into the loner Kalli Chellamma’s heart, and soon her bed. He leaves the village after the job is over ( no pun intended) and is conspicuously absent for over an year after which he re-appears, showing us the peek into the real slippery personality of the man. Kalli Chellamma sticks through his arrogance, plain stupidity  and haughtiness to the extent of helping him escape after a drunken brawl that almost ends up in murder, to even leaving her home and trying to build a life together with her wayward, chauvinist ‘husband’. But events take an interesting turn with the appearance of a young lady with two children, in tatters and a-begging, searching for her husband, and the kids, their father. Kalli Chellamma‘s life is just about to take a careening, skidding step sideways into the abyss, all thanks to a career alcoholic, dashing handy man called Kunjachen.

I couldnot think of any other actor who could depict the “love-to-hate” personality of Kunjachan other than Prem Nazir. he gradual revelation of the real personality of the character across the movie was a treat to watch – specially the evolution of the lover boy-turned-drunkard-turned blabbering coward-turned-infuriatingly arrogant chauvinist , Prem Nazir excelled as Kunjachan. P Bhaskaran, I guess should be  credited with giving Prem Nazir two of his career best roles ( according to me ) – Velayudhan in Iruttinte Aathmaavu (1967) being the other. After lulling you into a sense of false security with some memorable compositions set to music by Raghavan Master, P Bhaskaran just yanks the carpet off your feet.
Maanathey kaayalin from Kalli Chellamma.

Vivahitha (1970)

Prem Nazir in Vivahitha

Rajendran, the painter/ singer refuses to let go. He is in his elements, comfortably wallowing in his own misery, carrying the proverbial millstone round the neck of a past love-affair, even after the love of his life becomes the wife of another man. The Malayalam remake of the Sunil DuttAshok KumarMala Sinha starrer Gumrah (1963), Prem Nazir played the part  done by Sunil Dutt in the original. He follows his love Meena (Ragini Padmini..thanks Viju :) ) to Chennai, who is now married to one of the leading barristers of the city, Barrister Ashok (Sathyan) and continues to meet her, not exactly knowing where to take it from there. he is mortified at the thought of having his love out of his sight and that is all that he cares for. The lackey whom we see pining onscreen  with “Sumangali, nee ormikkumo “, is the happy hound reveling and pleasurably lost in the new found warmth of his  secret rendezvous with his now -someone-else’s wife beloved, happily musing on “Mayaajaalka vaathil thurakkum”  after he stalks her down. Ah, the weasel’s nerve ! :)

Here is the part-delirious, part-pining stalker on the Piano.

Listen to the one that comes in the Hindi original here.

Anubhavangal, Paalichakal (1971)

Prem Nazir in Anubhavangal Paalichakal

One of the enduring classics of Malayalam cinema, from the Manjilas‘ stable. Based on Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai‘s novel of the same name, the powerful screenplay was written by Thoppil Bhasi – that man was sheer genius, someone who somehow knew exactly the sensibilities of writing for the screen and for the stage.  [ Trivia : Thoppil Bhasi holds the credit of writing the screenplays for the maximum number of Thakazhi‘s works adapted for the big screen ]. Prem Nazir as Gopalan, was back in “Covet-thy-neighbor’s-wife” territory, this time being his dear friend Chellappan‘s (Sathyan in one of his best roles ) comely, brash and buxom wife Bhavani ( Sheela, who else ? ), The way they address each other as ‘Aliyaaa!‘ is endearing, coming from both of them especially, if you remember the opening scene at the toddy shop.  Both the characters are male chauvinists in their own levels, not scared to stray, the degree of suspicion runs only a shade deeper in Chellappan’s case.

Prem Nazir is a widower, and makes no effort in masking his ‘desire’ to possess Bhavani, even at the risk of inviting the hellish fury of his dear friend, whom, deep down, he knows to be a prisoner of his own devices – his political ideals forming the heaviest balls and chain. In one of the early scenes where both flirt and keep pinging on each other, Chellappan is absolutely clear in what he desires, when he tells her, “എന്‍റെ ഭാര്യ നല്ലവളായിരുന്നു.പക്ഷേ മരിച്ചുപോയി.” Bhavani’s response is also equally encouraging, as she bursts into forced laughter, as to somehow hide those very words that just slipped out, “എന്‍റെ ഭര്‍ത്താവു ഒരു കൊള്ളരുതാത്തവനാണ്. പക്ഷെ ജീവിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു.” It essentially becomes the building block for their ‘new life together.’ Gopalan, even though is all testosterone and wiggling his plumage  in order to possess Bhavani,  is also equally scared out his wits at the ruthless, terminal and severe reactions it would evoke in his dear friend, who is now gone underground fearing a police crackdown. But the demands of the flesh inevitably wins over fidelity. It’s a bag of mixed emotions that all the three carry in their hearts, there are no black and white zones, its all grey, just like in real life. Gopalan doesn’t even think twice, though, now  husband to his best friend’s wife, to pledge all their possessions together to accord his friend the dignity he deserves in the final scenes of the film. The interactions between them, especially Sathyan, who speaks volumes with a gaze, at two instances that seem so crucial – at the jail and after the sentence is passed out. is heart-rending. Come to think of it, this should also be up there in one of Sheela‘s best performances.

The agonising “Agniparvatham Pukanju” from the movie.

Punarjanmam (1972)

Prem Nazir in PunarjanmamIn the beginning of all psycho-medical thrillers was Punarjanmam. Yes, Manichitrathazhu (1993) wasn’t a unique, watershed moment as far as the genre is concerned. Rather than cloaking it in pop iconography, KS Sethumadhavan, with a gripping screenplay by Thoppil Bhasi put it right out there as a case study from acclaimed hypnotherapist and applied psychologist, Dr AT Kovoor’s case diary, in 1972. It even had the good doctor appearing in the beginning of the movie onscreen, explaining as to what the movie was all about, who did  a cameo as the therapist that sets matters right – a first in Malayalam cinema, I think.

Prem Nazir played Aravindan, the dashing ( can he be anything else? :) ) college lecturer, who falls in love with his student and marries her. Problems arise after the marriage as he clings on to her like a child, never getting around to consummate their marriage but is found in bed with the maid of their house. His entire life revolves around his wife Radha ( Jayabharathy) , resembling more of an obsessive-compulsive disorder – the man is absolutely fixated on her. Yet, the bedroom resembles a walk-in freezer.  Aravindan also refuses to discuss the demons that are plaguing hem, choosing to weep, moan and go a-begging to Radha ( who has by now has enough and walks out of the house ), again pitching his undying love for her to bring her back. Watching Prem Nazir as Aravindan, am amazed at the limits this actor must have travelled, with an encouraging nudge from directors with daring such as KSS. He is absolutely amazing as he plays probably The ‘Clingiest’ Husband onscreen in Malayalam movie history :)

Another gem from Devarajan Master, “Prema Bikshuki”.

Azhakulla Celina (1973)

Prem Nazir  in Azhakulla Celina

Kunjachan, the filthy-rich owner of the plantation, is under his smiling visage, the perfect beast. Suave on the surface and savage within, Prem Nazir‘s characterisation of this wild beast is right up there amongst my favorite trinity of his’ in Dark Grey. Directed by KS Sethumadhavan, based on a story by Muttathu Varkey, adapted for the screen by Thoppil Bhasi, the music director was KJ Yesudas himself. Kunjachan is a chronic flirt and a womanizer ( he can afford it :) ), accommodated to a large extent by his beautiful wife Lucy (Kanchana), who regardless, loves him unconditionally, even is in awe of her ‘super husband.’ Kunjachan, the ever-smiling, generous, helpful gentleman, wastes no time in offering his support and assistance to the young Johnny ( a tepid Vincent ), his clerk who had eloped with his childhood sweetheart on the eve of her wedding and seeks refuge at the plantation.

You can almost see The Beast Inside licking his lips in the eyes of Kunjachan as he first lays his eyes on the exceptionally beautiful young bride Celina ( Jaya Bharathy), vulnerable beautiful and umm..glowing like a bride. Kunjachen doesn’t have to work that hard to earn the complete, unquestionable, inherent trust of the vulnerable couple and from here own, the classic game of the cat-playing-with-the mouse begins, though the mouse is hardly aware that there is a game afoot. Hell, the mouse doesn’t even know that it is certified prey. Kunjachan bides his time, falling over himself to have them married off at his own expense at the church in the nearby town, put them up at the place’s best hotel for the night, and then ‘planned tragedy’ strikes. The groom is bundled away by the local police on unspecified charges and the benevolent patron, grinds his teeth and feigns helplessness when the hapless bride rushes to him for help. The groom is in the jail for the night, the disoriented bride-to-be and Kunjachan are in adjacent rooms and he has his favorite blend open on the table, nursing his next drink. The stage is set.

Prem Nazir was perfect as the suave beast, and I always wish he had gotten more of them. He would reprise the role in Bharathan‘s Parvathy (1981), but the young,raging libido had been then replaced with a far more aged, mature(?) and more sinister constitution.

I always break into a smile watching PN giving the good ol’ jive an earnest and good-natured shot. KJ Yesudas gets the bass runs for the boogie  right down pat.

Darling, Darling from Azhakulla Celina (1973)

Parvathy ( 1981)

Prem Nazir in Parvathy

Urumees from Parvathy somehow seems to be Kunjachen, matured in a fine oak cask, acquiring depth and complexity across a decade  or you could call him Ol’ Randy :) . That is, if you are comfortable in  keeping  aside the usual connotations that one would associate with a Bharathan movie that discusses eroticism on his own terms (with the commercial ingredients needed, thank you very much ). Parvathy was the onscreen adaptation of Kaakkanadan‘s Adiyaravu, one amongst the two creations of his Bharathan adapted for the screen, the other being the gag-worthy Parankimala. Even if you look at it as a B-grade just-above-average skin flick ( and I wouldn’t blame you ), it was still a win for Prem Nazir as far as the character he played – this was the 80′s, and he had all the time to now explore options at his will. Urumees was the local money bag businessman who requests the assistance of  Parvathy Thamburatty ( Latha – an uncanny(!) resemblance to Surekha ) to  home-tutor his little girls in music and dance.

To Parvathy and the dilapidated, rambling old aristocratic manor that she is a part of ( she has two elder sisters ), this is a godsend, financially. It doesn’t take long for the employer-employee to cross lines that should never have been crossed, which drives the lady of the house to attempt suicide ( KPAC Lalitha), post which a repentant Urumees tries to recoup what is lost, but leaves a window open hoping that they would meet again.  Watch the movie only for Prem Nazir.  That should be more than enough. The rest is a train wreck.  [ Trivia : Parvathy was the debut film of Raj Kumar, and I’ve read somewhere that Latha was the enigmatic lady in  Jayan‘s life ( more details please ! ) ]

The Grand Seduction. Please try not to stare ! :)

Which are yours ? Do write in.

Next : Prem Nazir in Padayottam | A Sketch in Vengeful Grey.

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64 thoughts on “Prem Nazir | Sketches in Dark Grey

  1. padayottam, adimakal, bharyayum kaamukiyum,snehathinte mukhangal and many vadakkan paattu films..oru sundariyude kathayile maadan …and many many more..
    after Prem nazir, vadakkan pattu films also died. and all our beautiful old songs are beautifully enacted by prem nazir and still nobody can beat him for that…do write more….as actor Madhu himself said, “Prem Nazir should have done the role in Swayamvaram” which was more suited for him than madhu,and he would have won a bharat. I do not know why he did not get award for iruttinte atmavu and adimakal as well .probably awards were not there at that time ot it was not properly represented.and the mighty Padayottam ….where he eclipsed every actor in it.

    • Hi Sudersan,
      The ones that were written about were, in a way, my personal favorites.I have always had a kind of mixed feelings with his Raghavan from Adimakal(1969). Why not send across your thoughts on those three movies that , I presume, to be some of your favorites ? We could take this Shades of Grey further. :)Just send it to oldmalayalamcinema@gmail.com. As for Swayamvaram, I do believe that, keeping aside the genuine modesty of the legendary actor, I cannot even think of any other actor who could do Vishwam’s vulnerability as good as Madhu ever.Then again, its me. :)Regardless of whether Iruttinte Aathmavu got PN any personal recognition by the State, it doesn’t, in any way, lessen the impact of the movie for us. Bhranthan Velayudhan will always remain close to our hearts. Thanks again, cinematters

  2. Happened to come by this blog by a far shot and chance , was googling for what goes for ‘ grey’ in malayalam

    Ever helpful google pointed out this blog and it’s been great reading it , one movie that sticks out in mind for Nazir’s performance , not for the grey shades but beyond the weepy , tree entwining , butt smacking wimp is his character in ‘ Maram’ .. the movie as a whole and Nazir in particular had a depth not usually seen in the 70′s.

    on a parting note : if any of the more knowledgeable souls out there know what goes for grey in malayalam , then please do let know , I know that ‘ chara niram ‘ is some times used to pass for grey but that’s more like calling orange as ‘ naranga niram ‘ isnt it :)

    • Dear Shivan,
      A big thanks to Google for dumping you at OMC’s doorstep :) Maram (1973) to me has always been a Nellikode Bhaskaran movie. Forget Prem Nazir, even Ummer were cosmetic “appendages” in that film. For anyone who wants to know about Nellikode Bhaskaran, the actor – Maram, I believe would suffice.Also, I donot know of any other word that goes for grey other than Charam. You could even take into account the Sanskrit equivalent of “Dhoomr”. Orange color also has a forgotten, ‘old’ equivalent in pingala – again from Sanskrit, which is broadly used to express everything from light ochre to golden till it reaches “petha” – bright yellow :) As you rightly said, the learned ones would know and would share more. Thanks again..cinematters

  3. K kode PN anusmaranam and honoring Sri, Srikumaran thampy.

    After enduring my worst ever train journey with scores of smelly out of state pilgrims leaving Sabrimala. When I couldnt take it anymore I jumped off the train at thrissur Around 5 30 called GK and we headed to K’kode by bus at 7..reached K’kode at 1030..met a few cinema enthusiasts at k’ kode town hall around 11 30. The screening of Neelaponman and Irrutinte athmavu was cancelled as the organisers had covered the windows entire hall with dark paper during the show..which did not go well with the hall auhtorities. Had discussion with GK and Hyder another colletor and co-organiser of the function and an encyclyopedia of music and cinema. There was an exhibition of PN posters photos and also old magazines and cut outs from collectors. Met Thampy Sir at his hotel room at 4 15 talked for some time and took him to the hall at 5 45. Thampy sir was happy to meet us and we also got some pics with him. Gained some knowledge on how old prints are taken care of at studios and how some of his prints were lost over the years..He also mentioned Thiruvonam and the resemblance of Nandanam..
    After the usual politician and samskarika nayakar speeches Thampy Sir spoke for 40 minutes..detailing a few moments of his life with PN.The hall was jampacked and I was told the previous three days the halls were full for the screening of movies.
    Had to leave soon after that at 8..to catch the next bus back to TVM..in a back breaking 8 hour journey aboard KSRTC.

    Have plenty of photos which I will send to CM..sometime today..

  4. I remember in the early 70′s, after Sathyan’s passing there were a deluge of movies with PN in lead roles. I remember running with friends to collect the notice from the road when the old Amby with PA fitted on the carrier pass by…also vivid is the memory watching PN in B&W on screen in the hot humid dingy cinemas of our villages….You just brought back all those memories mate!!! Just don’t have enough words to thank you!!!!

    • Dear George,
      Nice to hear from you again. Glad that it helped you travel back for a bit :) While on the B & W era, is the February 2012 plan on the documentary on schedule? I am really, really looking forward to it..bests..cinematters

  5. dear cine mattersjee…

    the copy of THIRUVONAM is no longer available any where.. the last hope burnt into ashes when its print was lost from D D library.. it was once shown in doordarsan, some 20 years ago and i was studying at 1st standard that time.. whatever i wrote about that film, came from my memory of watching it then… director kamal’s RAPPAKAL also has got many scenes from THIRUVONAM…

    • Dear GopalKrishnan,
      Sreekumaran Thampi’s Chattambikalyani’s some scenes are available in Youtube.The video look likes as this was collected from abroad.There were writing’s below the video.I had heard that before Thomsun Electronics-Dubai during the eightees had a huge collections of black and white movies. Still they have them or not i do not know. 10 years back i had seen videos of some black and white movies like Aayiram Janmagal,Ivan Ente priyaputran,Mattoru Karnan,Manoradham etc .which was from Dubai.. I dont know still these are available.Can you check in your list whether you have Iniyetra Sandyakal,Tholkkan ennikku manasilla,Rasaleela(1975),Sindhooram,Prethangalude Thazvara,Rowdi Rajamma,Anavaranam,Chanjala,Aa Nimisham,Adavukal 18 & Abhimanam. available or not ?

      • dear regi….

        i have abhimaanam. chattambi kalyani, aayiram janmangal etc in my collection already.. two days earlier, i met sree kumaran thampi sir at calicut on the occassion of a prog held there REMEMBERING PREM NAZIR, and we had a long chat about old movies and songs and the sources of old movie prints and copies and from that conversation, i came to know that none of the black and white malayalam movies’ negatives are available in the labs now and the only sources of collecting the movies (mentioned in your list) is thomsun’s VHS and that too is decreasing now.. we dont get many of those movies in the future. one other source is library of ASIANET, but that source is not available for us…

        luckily i have got the songs videos of many such movies in my collection.

  6. though wont come in the dark-gray shade charactor, in this thread i want to share a charactor played by nazir sir in a SREE KUMARAN THAMPI film called THIRUVONAM (1975, only movie where kamal hasan and nazir worked together in front of camera).. in that film NAZIR played the role of the lost son (later turned as saviour) of KAVIYOOR PONNAMMA’s HUGE JOINT FAMILY.. and in the end, after every problem of that family got solved, kaviyoor ponnamma (and the viewers both) got shocked and surprised to see that PREM NAZEER’s charactor was actually LORD KRISHNA (GURUVAAYOORAPPAN) who wanted to rescue his devotee kaviyoor ponnamma…

    knowingly or unknowingly, 25 years later, director RENJITH also used the same climax for his NANDANAM…

    • dear Gopalji,

      I remember my Mom recalling this after she finished watching Nandanam about this “old Prem Nazir movie which had the same story”. Now I get the name :). Other than the fact that it was the only one where PN and Kamal worked together, I didn’t know anything more. This is fantastic. And I am thinking you have a copy of that too :).Fantastic…regrads..cinematters

    • Another amazing revelation…. Have seen Thiruvonam as a kid…. too young to remember the story line…. But very clearly remember Sharadha singing Thiruvonapularithan….thirumulkaazhcha kaanaan( maybe on a mic in front of an audience)… Thanks a ton Gopalji…. Am enjoying every moment spent here…. Better late than never right?

    • Dear Mr . Gopal ,

      I was looking for quite a long time to watch movies like Thiruvabharanam/ Kottaram Vilkanudu / Pavangal Pennungal/Chattambi Kalyani .

      Thanks for the information and please let me know how can I get this copies .

      Rgds

      Sajid

  7. Next monday ie 16th JAN 2012, PREM NAZIR sir’s 23rd death anniversary…
    I am along with Mr. SIBI of the OMC family are going to attend prog at CALICUT, called REMEMBERING PREM NAZEER…

    Its a 4 day long prog showing 10 superhit movies of Prem Nazeer on 35mm screen and veterans like SREEKUMARAN THAMPI sir also attends the function..

    I will show the video of a rare TV interview of Prem Nazeer sir during that occasion.. i had to run a lot to acquire this 23 minutes long video interview..

    • Silent… cos..

      I am stuck with some construction work on my house site.. near kazhakootam…. you all know how it goes.. cement challi manal parapodi..panikooli..and managing labourers. i leave at 7 in the morning and comeback at 7 i n the eve… got to talk to Gopal..we will be meeting this week at kozhikode for Nazir sir’s anniversary… stopping work for 2 days to go there :)

      • Dear Sibi,
        No explanations are needed. Remember, the chayakkada understands.. Hope you take loads and loads of photographs on the prem nazir Special, and maybe even a video too and share it through these columns..Have a great time..regards..cinematters

    • Dear Sibi and Gopalji,
      If Envy could speak, these could be the words it would use :). Your little note, specially has touched a chord deep within, and I think what I feel on that deserves a much more elaborate expression, which I will do soon. While you two would be ‘losing yourself’ in Everything Prem Nazir, I think I will do my bit in doing a blitz on Padayottam :). Look forward to hearing that story on how you tracked down the rare Prem nazir interview soon..regards..cinematters

      • thank you cinemattersjee…
        the story behind PREM NAZEER interview video is a bit too long and that i will elaborate if i start a thread or website of my own…. i actually started my journey to collect a few rare NAZIR movies, which have not been telecasted on any television channels (or available in market) for long years.. though i aimed at movies like URVASI BHARATHI, THIRUVABHARANAM, KOTTARAM VILKKANUNDU, MAANISHAADHA, PAAVANGAL PENNUNGAL, AMARSHAM and some other movies like PAZHASSIRAJA, PAALAATTU KOMAN, GAYATRI,, etc,, i ended up collecting LIGHT HOUSE, KAYAMKULAM KOCHUNNIYUDE MAKAN, SAMUDRAM, CHATTAMBI KALYAANI, SUJATHA, AGNIPUTHRI, etc (along with some rare gems of SATHYAN and MADHU) during that hunt i got this rare interview that i am going to show next week at calicut..

        i am very happy to hear that you are going to write about PADAYOTTAM…

        BUT I ALSO REMINDS and REQUEST you to give more concentration TO PANI THEERAATHA VEEDU, ASURAVITHU, SNEHATHINTE MUKHANGAL, and the CHEKAVAN roles played by him in THACHOLI MARUMAKAN CHANTHU, PONNAPURAM KOTTA, KANNAPPANUNNI, AAROMALUNNI, KADATHANAATTU MAKKAM, PALATTU KUNJI KANNAN, MAAMANKAM, etc

    • Gopalji will be in Kerala from 18th… Can I take part in this programme… could you pls let me know the venue and agenda? Would love to watch the interview…..

  8. DEAR cinemattersjee…

    good article about the PREM NAZEER in dark grey roles.. but NIZHALATTOM must come in 1st place along with PONKATHIR.. also JAIL PULLI WHERE YOU SEE A GOOD HEARTED PREM NAZEER LATER TURNED OUT AS SELFISH AND CRUEL HERO as HE WENT AWAY FROM HIS REAL LOVE miss KUMARI and GOT INTO THE COMPANY OF RICH GREEDY GIRL SANTHI..

    then comes ASURAVITHU where he is not The actor prem nazeer.. the nazeer fans who want to see the acting talent of nazeer sir must watch ASURAVITHU first..

    also i want to say about PREM NAZEER’s role in ANKAM where he has only one eye (remake of sivaji’s GNANA OLI) is also such a film that fall into this category..

    in AATTAKALASAM also where you see glimpses of the such shade as the INSPECTOR charactor played by him treating his wife cruelly because he beleived his wife LAXMI had an extra marital affair with his brother played by MOHANLAL..

    in HARIHARAN’s LAAVA (remake of dilip kumar’s GANGA JAMNA) you see prem nazeer in the role of a farmer first but later turned as a most wanted deaded DACOIT and there is a scene in this film where PREM NAZEER looting a train after chasing it for almost 5 – 6 minutes on horse and then jumping into the upper part of train and that too without assistance of a DUPE…

    if my memory is correct, THE 1966 classic film KUNJAALI MARACKAR had prem nazeer in dual role one of a NARAYAN NAIR and other of a british officer ANTONIO.. dont remember it clearly today.. i saw that film in early 1990s when i was hardly 8 years old..

    in KAAKKA THAMBURAATTI nazeer played the role of the right hand the gunda G K PILLAI and prem nazeer’s role in most part of 1st half is like a 3rd rate “POOVAALAN”

    in UDAYA studios THIRICHADI, where prem nazeer played dual role, one of them is an out & out villain charactor…

    PICK POCKET (where JAYAN acted as prem nazeer’s father) nazeer’s played the title role but of a golden heart…

    • Dear Gopalji,
      Let me again repeat how invaluable and precious is your active participation in this domain, through these pages, sharing information that I am sure couldn’t be found anywhere else. I have mentally made a note to go through all these movies again. As I have mentioned, the ones that have made to the list are the ones that naturally comes without any extra-effort, and am sure there will be more. Nizhalattom is one movie I have missed, and i have ordered for a copy online. regards..cinematters

    • Amazing Gopalji, Ever since I read Asuravithu, been wanting to watch this movie…. God alone knows whether I will ever be lucky enough to watch this ever….. :(

      • Same here, Viju. I have always wanted to see how A Vincent has adapted it for the screen for myself, though i have heard that the movie was a watered down version of the original angsty, acerbic novel, even though MT handled the screenplay too. Regards..cinematters

        • Wow!!!! You don’t know how thrilled I am Gopalji…. Just knowing that someone has this itself is as good as watching it……

          • i think Gopalakrishnan might be able to clarify this point. Didn’t Nazeer portray a grey shaded charachter in ORU THETTINTE KATHA… dont remember the story exactly.

  9. three roles of Nazir of the early Eighties stands out different from the namby pamby roles often associated with him.
    what do you think of the roles Nazir did in CHARAM (directed by PA Backer.) that of Advocate Mathews who goes in pursuit of a gang of pornographers who have “violated” his daughter. Charam was an entirely different Backer movie…it was pucca mainstream commercial. In ATTIMARI we see the vengful prosecutor Jayadev taking law into his hands when he is wrongly convicted on charges of murder. this was a desi version of DEATHWISH. Another movie which comes to my mind is ADIMACHANGALA (at least i think thats the title of the movie). this adpatation of FIVE MAN ARMY has Nazir stepping into the shoes of the role immortalised by Peter Graves. In all three movies, there is a grey touch to the character. but dont think these three movies made much of an impact in the box office

    • Dear Narayanji,
      Guess I need to watch all of them again :) Why not write on them and send it across as a possible second set ? Whenever you have time..Regards..cinematters

    • chaaram flopprd but it made kamalhasan to do a film on similar plot later MAHANADHI…

      other 2 films, ADIMACHANGALA was a runaway hit where as ATTIMARI also farely did well at Box office.

      • Gopalji,
        I was always under the impression that Mahanadi was inspired from the George Scott-Peter Boyle thriller – Hardcore (1979), also special to me because of director Paul Schrader, one of my favorites. Haven’t watched Chaaram ( have ordered a copy of that too :) ). It was released in 1983, so there could be a possibility that it was copied off the Hollywood thriller. Thanks..cinematters

        • CHAARAM was not a thriller film.. only the basic theme (ie search of a dad for lost daughter that ended up in red street) is similar to MAHANADHI.. the film ends when nazeer find his daughter and the movie is treated neither as a pacca commercial nor as art film.. those days, many personalities hardly able to digest the presence of a commercial film hero like PREM NAZEER in a BACKER film

  10. Prem Nazir’s nagative roles in Nizalattom,Bharymar shookshikkuka and Azahkulla selena was excellent. But the malayalam audience always like to see him as romatic or CID or vadakkenpattu images.Many times he tried to come out of such kind of images and we can see from 1981 onwards he moved to Heroic-semi-charecter role in films like Thenum Vayambum,Ponmudi,Arambham,Adarsham,Attakalasam,Postmotom,Chakravalam chuvannapol,angam until Dwani he made such kind of attempt,but by the time it was late. Nazir’s life time he was under continous tie up with SasiKumar,A.B.Raj.Kunjakko which made him to put himself in an image cage.Ofcourse their films had given him popularity and money.But as an artisitic level their films give him nothing .That’s why when we go through his 38 years of film life we can see only his few good charecter in films like Asuravittu,Murapennu,Bhargavinilayam,Iruttinte Atmavu,Adimakal,Achani,Punajanmam,Nadi,Pravaham , Thulabharam and Thulavarsham .

    • Dear Reji,
      One of the main reason for his chosen preferences for roles that you rightly describe as “Heroic-semi-character roles” could also be that time wasn’t on his side, age was showing on his face and body, and even the sensibilities of film making were gradually changing, with the start of talented film makers like Padmarajan. He must have also realised that with a huge volume of work behind him, it was now time to pursue what his heart wanted, the roles that he liked. Regards..cinematters

    • i partially agree with you regi.. prem nazir was not a good actor when compared to sathyan.. but neither sathyan nor madhu has got the crowd pulling capability that nazeer provided to his producers.. he was always the actor of DIRECTOR and PRODUCER.

      and to me the best of NAZEER includes
      OTHENAN of PADAYOTTAM,
      JOSE of PANI THEERATHA VEEDU (can anyone imagine any other artist for that role?)
      the lunatic hero of AMRITHA VAAHINI,
      Kochaniyan thampuran of DHARMAYUDHAM (though adoor bhasi scored in that movie) apart from those movies you have already mentioned..

  11. This post didn’t show up on my blogroll! (Today’s post did).

    I liked Nazir better in his ‘dark’ roles though I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed both is CID avatar and his ‘panchara’ performances – he *had* screen presence! My favourites would be ‘Punarjanmam’ ‘Kutti Kuppayam’ and ‘Anubhavangal Palichakal’ in the list you posted. Other than that, I really liked him as Jayadevan in ‘Kaavyamela’, Bhranthan Velayudhan in ‘Iruttinte Aathmavu’ and as Thampan (the Count of Monte Cristo) in ‘Padayattam’ (full of Kunchakko’s trashy sets :) ) Looking forward to your post on Padayottam. (Which had Mammootty as Ferdinand. Ya-a-ay!)

    • Dear Anu,
      Have strictly warned the posts not to take long pizza breaks :-P . I guess it must have been one of those inexplicable 404 feed-moments. I don’t think anyone could hold a candle to him in terms of screen presence. MT Vasudevan nair recalls one of the conversations he had with PN in which he muses wearily as to the “reasons why people flock to the cinemas to watch him?he says the stories are the same, what i do is the same, even my toupees are the same.” Jayadeevan in Kavyamela? Seriously? :) That reworking of Pyaasa ?Hmmmm. :) Padayottam is seriously epic. We have amoral obligation to archive it for posterity, don’t we ? :D..regards..cinematters

  12. Very engrossing, CM, going through the write-ups for each film and the tidbits that you mentioned in each of them. As a post 80s viewer of Malayalam cinema, I unfortunately cannot vouch for seeing any of these movies except maybe Anubhavangal Palichakal. I remember watching Kadalpaalam and possibly this when Doordarshan had screened a tribute to K S Sethumadhavan once – think it was somewhere in the mid-90s when I saw that.

    • Dear Pradeep,
      It’s never too late :) Would love for you to watch them and look forward to your thoughts on them someday. All of them are available on Maebag.com..regards..cinematters

      • I remember Achan telling me about ‘Punarjanmam’ – brave for PN and the director to explore such a theme but they did not have to cater to ‘superstar’ fan clubs at that time, I suppose…Must have been a controversy when it released or maybe the Kerala of those days was more amenable to go off the track than now..Has the audience changed or only the film makers?

        • The film audience of those days were definitely more amenable to such stories, Pradeep. If you look at a lot of the dark / illicit / controversial themes of those days (films that explored both sensuality and sexuality, mental illnesses or its variants, phobias, the supernatural (and not in terms of ghosts), and see the watered down versions that we are handfed today, it’s a shame! Those days, nobody called it a ‘daring effort’ or a ‘brave theme’ – it just was!

          Also, (I think) even though the triumvirate of Sathyan, Madhu and Nazir ruled the marquee, there was no ‘star’ system – if you look at their career graphs – with the exception of Nazir, neither of the others played ‘hero’. And even Nazir’s best roles were ‘characters’ not the CID roles or the panchara ones.

          • Dear Anu,
            Spot on. Being politically correct seemed to be the last thing on people’s minds, though there were inexplicable flare-ups occasionally. The dumb acolytes hadn’t yet arrived on the planet and a trip to the cinema spelt anticipation with a capital A. I take exception at the “CID” roles – you are treading on thin ice here, Ma’m :D .THAT Rayban Olympian II means the world to me !..regards..cm

          • I take exception at the “CID” roles – you are treading on thin ice here, Ma’m :D .THAT Rayban Olympian II means the world to me !

            Hey, you are preaching to the choir here, CM. :) I’ve a great taste for masala (Sorry, Pradeep!) and absolutely *love* him in his CID avatar. Look, I cannot sit and watch Adoor or Sethumadhavan all the time, okay? Sometimes, only CID Nazir will do. :))

  13. Have seen all these movies except maybe Kuttikkuppaayam, Thanks a ton for the nice review….. Have the movie in the digital form…. will rush to watch it…..Prem Nazir always excelled when he was not the run off the mill romantic hero…. The above said movies and Adimakal are classic examples…..Yes Bhaaryamar sookshikkuka, Nizhalattam and Triveni too are some of them……

  14. Wow! Now I have got to watch all those movies once again…. maybe I’ll be able to ‘appreciate’ them better:)
    two more roles that came to mind… the one in Triveni. he is the wimpy lover again, if I am not mistaken. And in Bharyamar Sookshikkuka, I think he is at it again- coveting another man’s wife:)

  15. I think Prem Nazir was one of the greatest actors of Malayalam cinema. Unfortunately he was mostly bracketed as a romantic actor. This does discredit to an actor who was such a natural artist and played any role with consummate ease.

    I think you have missed out Nizhalattam which has a powerhouse performance by him in a grey role.

    • Dear Satish,

      Thank you. I have tried to list the ones that first came to mind on the topic. Will surely have Nizhalattam included in the next set. Nice to to see the names coming in :) And totally agree with you on the bracketed part. Even PN says it with a kind of matter-of-fact regret about the ‘toupee roles’ that he was fed up of, in a memoir by MT, long back. Regards..cinematters

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