Prof. Narendra Prasad’s film roles | My favourites | One

Prof Narendra Prasad in Paithrukam

December 26th was Prof Narendra Prasad’s birthday.

Prof Narendra Prasad made his celluloid debut in P Sreekumar‘s Asthikal Pookkunnu (1988), for which the Professor himself had written the screenplay. There were no songs in the movie from what I could gather and the background score was by Raveendran Master. But what really pulled you into his magic circle of inimitable talent and charisma was the tele-film Peruvazhiyile Kariyilakal (1988? ), directed by Shyama Prasad, first telecast on Doordarshan. The role that ‘made’ Narendra Prasad was his role as GP in Thalasthanam (1992). From there on, the Professor was on a  roll. In the 15 – odd years that he worked in the Malayalam Film industry, the latter part mostly at the risk of being typecast (painfully so) – the brilliant theater activist, playwright and author of a dozen books on the fine nuances of expressions gave us some brilliant characters, which were, to borrow a cliche’, unforgettable. Here are my favorites. ( There are 10, here is the first five, so bear with me). Do write in with yours.

Peruvazhiyile Kariyilakal (1988? )

Based on the story by N Mohanan and produced by Trivandrum Doordarshan, the Professor played the role of the journalist Gopi, once-best-friend to Muraleedharan (Nedumudi Venu), both fire-brand Left ideologists, vocal to the Cause. In time, Muraleedharan comes to terms withe the fickleness of his political convictions and opts out to join the domestic ‘rat-race.” Gopi, on the other hand lives a life of self-deceit, forsaken by the ideology, excelling in his role as a journalist, rudderless and a full-blown alcoholic. I remember watching this in Doordarshan, being deeply affected by the whole story, and this ‘new, bearded actor’ who almost confined a thespian like Nedumudi Venu into one of the movie’s dark corners. He directly went on to portray the dark side in Advaitham (1991) and major screen time in Utsavamelam (1992), but it was Thalasthanam (1992) that made you sit up and say ” Oh my God, what an extraordinary Actor!”

You could watch a small clipping from the tele-film Peruvazhiyile Kariyilakal in Shyama Prasad‘s online portfolio here

Thalasthanam (1992)

Narendra Prasad in Thalasthanam After the delightful Dr.Pasupathi in 1990, Shaji Kailas-Renji Panicker teamed up together for the second time in a political thriller, which also was the beginning of a series of films in a certain template with the same ingredients in different proportions, which would also prove to be Shaji Kailas’ nemesis. The movie, set around campus politics, also gave us G Parameshwaran aka GP , the local Trade-Union heavy weight in the capital city, a street-smart, suave beast with a simmering menace that always hid behind his trademark smile. His eyes were always dead, they never smiled along with him.  Malayalam Cinema was looking at a new kind of  celluloid beast, and it would also spawn innumerable clones, some repeated by him and some by the likes of Sai Kumar and Vijaya Raghavan, but it ws GP who started it all.

Here is an excerpt from the Thalasthanam (1992). Pay special attention from 3.05!

Paithrukam (1993)

Paithrukam by Jayaraj I strongly believe that Paithrukam should be included in the study curriculum of every student at the Film Institute as a brilliant example of how belief systems and personal faith can be weaved into a gnawing, heart-wrenching and beautiful tale on screen. I guess this movie by Jayraj (who deserves much more literary head-butting and discussions than this small paragraph as a visionary film maker) may have given Prof Narendra Prasad a role he would be remembered by for generations, (one created by Kaloor Dennis and George Vettam) – Devaduttan Chemmadirippad. As the sagely, helpless, timid yet standing strong on the bedrock of tradition and personal faith against the logical, scientific, atheistic and rational philosophy of his dearest son, played by Suresh Gopi, I personally feel this was his greatest character ever. What do you think?

One of the classic scenes from the movie.

Meleparambil Aanveedu (1993) .

Prof Narendra Prasad in Melepparambil Aanveedu 1993 was one of Prof Narendra Prasad’s best years as a movie actor. The veritable range of characterisations that he received and realised on screen stand testimony to this legend’s acting prowess on celluloid. This was the another of 1993’s gifts, the role of Thrivikram Muthallali, an orthodox, feudal-inclined, a crazy mix of “Hitler and Don Corleone”, father to three bachelor sons who seem to rule the family with a iron hand but has this deep, abiding love for his family. He dead panned lines sending you into hysterical laughter, matching his hassled and harried wife Bhanumathi (Meena in a brilliant role – come to think of it, was there one where she wasn’t?) repartee for repartee.

I guess this was also the movie that gave us the funny side of the legend, Janardhanan, all thanks to Gireesh Puthenchery and Rajasenan.I have read somewhere that it was Gireesh who was instrumental in developing the classic character sketches, and it was Raghunath Palery’s screenplay that made it to one of the “14 Greatest Malayalam Movies Ever,” compiled by Manorama News.

Check out one of the Classic Scenes from the movie.

Ekalavyan (1993)

Prof Narendra Prasad in Ekalavyan One amongst the successful trilogy made by the Shaji Kailas- Renji Panicker team {the other being Sthalathey Pradhana Payyans (1993)}. It was an equation no one had ever dared in Malayalam mainstream cinema, the potent mix of religion and politics, centered around Swami Amoorthananda and his ‘evangelical empire.’ It was a composite character, made up of all the Godmen that one had come to know through the popular media, wise and otherwise, and what Prof Narendra Prasad do was to put the face of a beast behind the flowing smile and beard.

Overbearing and arrogant in one moment, vulnerable and over-dependent on his criminal cronies the next, Swami Amoorthanatha still is the first and last word for the term, ” Sex, sedition and the Swamiji on Film”. Maybe Ram Gopal Verma could very well do with a copy of the film DVD to train his Bollywood “hero-material” on how to carry himself onscreen, if his announced project on the Swamiji-Sex scandal takes off ! I simply stared in awe at his excerpts of those “discourse snippets”, it was as if I was watching the Professor of English Literature coming alive behind the Swami’s persona.

Here is the Special Officer on that classic face-Off with the Swamiji.

Related : Remembering Prof. Narendra Prasad

Next : His portrayals from Aayirappara (1993), Sukrutham (1994) and the rest.


7 thoughts on “Prof. Narendra Prasad’s film roles | My favourites | One

    1. Dear Nritha,
      Thank you for those kind words. Old Malayalam Cinema is just a blog and I wish someone took the effort to make an online tribute on the life and times of Prof Narendra Prasad which is badly needed. The views expressed are just personal as it is a personal blog and I always look forward to the varied perspectives from the learned ones who pass through. Thank you for writing in and hope to see more of you in these parts.. Regard.. Cinematters

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