Venu Nagavally | A Tribute

[The repost of a note in memoriam, published on the passing of Venu Nagavally, 9th September, 2010. It has been an year.]
Venu NagavallyIt has almost become a sickening joke of this passing away of the ‘Old School’ of Malayalam Cinema, one after the other in quick succession, right before your eyes With each, goes a part of a definitive and creative force that molded the golden years (purportedly) years of Malayalam Cinema, the 80’s and the 90’s. It almost makes you cringe, as you cock an ear at the ‘BREAKING NEWS’ ticker of the foaming-in-the-mouth crop of God’s own TV Channels, and with a an air of helplessness, mutter “why, so soon?” Venu Nagavally was no stranger to the magic of Cinema, you could say he was born right into it, with an illustrious lineage, right from popular writer and commentator Nagavally RS Kurup, starting off  his dabbling into films as a playback singer, on the lines of Jose Prakash, who also entered  Malayalam films as a playback singer . His first playback was for the film Chottanikkara Amma (1976), singing the traditional Kalidas kriti ‘Maanikya Veena ‘, under the guidance of RK Shekhar. Venu Nagavally’s contribution to the Malayalam Cinema as an actor and director are significant, though the latter’s gravitas almost relegates the former to its shadow. Right from his debut , Ulkadal (1976), his broody demeanor and his eyes that almost seem to overflow with grief without shedding a tear almost had  him typecast in those roles for a long time.

I guess the increasing involvement in directing films and his meaty roles in the TV soaps helped a lot in getting the film industry recognize the various shades in him as an actor. Maybe to a certain extent, the natural aging process also helped. From his huge body of work, I have attempted to showcase  a selection under three heading, as a Singer ( that was easy), Actor and Director, in a way that could best express the natural development of his art and his creative shine at the same time. Please note, these aren’t definite, these are just my favorites.

Venu Nagavalli – The Singer

Srividya in Chottanikkara AmmaVenu Nagavally debute as a singer in Chottanikkara Amma (1976), directed by Crossbelt Mani ( he wasn’t all soft-porn, you know), with Venu singing an excerpt from the famed Kalidasa composition, praising Goddess Saraswati, the Vagdevi – the mellifluous Manikya Veena.The script was also by his father, Nagavally PRS Kurup ! Incidently, another stalwart from the neighboring film industry had done a performance on the same composition, playing Kalidasa himself, Annavuru Dr.Raj Kumar from Karnataka. You can listen to his version here.

Song : Manikyaveena
Written by : Kalidasa
Music : RK Shekhar
Sung by : Venu Nagavally

It is said that he had lent his voice for a handful of films in the early 80’s, but of the ones surviving in the mainstream media, there was a fun number Kochu Chakkarachi pettu from Balachandra Menon‘s Ente Ammu, Ninte Thulasi, Avarude Chakki [1985], and the folksy Mannu, Ayyappa Panicker’spoem, in Chillu (1982), directed by Lenin Rajendran. He also enacts and sings the part!

Song : Mannu, a poem (1967)
Lyrics : Ayyappa Panicker
Sung by : Venu Nagavally

The song starts at 5:30

Also Read : Venu Nagavalli | The Actor

Also Read : Venu Nagavally | His Media Interviews.

Also Read :Venu Nagavally | The Director | The List

2 thoughts on “Venu Nagavally | A Tribute

  1. It was only recently that I watched the film “Agni Devan”. I was so taken with the film that I immediately searched the net for information, only to find that the director had recently passed away =/ I don’t know how much I can say about a person judging by one film, but my impression thus far is extremely high….

    1. Hi Prasanth,
      You can rest assured with your impressions.That was the unique capability of Venu Nagavalli, he could somehow transfer a part of his ideals, his outlook on life through his movies/charachters. He was an expert in bridging the so-called arthouse and mainstream, and yet infuse each film with that ‘something’ that kept them as a Venu Nagavalli film. His subjects were also diverse, ranging from the communist social movement in Kerala to the greatest laugh-riot in comedy, while, as an actor he was Malayalam Screen’s celluloid Devdas in the peak of his screen career. More on that soon. Thanks for the visit. 🙂

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