7 April 1926 – 16 January 1989 | Remembering Malayalam Cinema’s Evergreen Hero

Prem Nazir in Iruttinte Atmavu

 [ Re-posted from January, 2011 ]

23 years on, the concept of Evergreen Hero, the unique art of telling the same story in a hundred ways with the same lead actor (with a new outrageous toupee every time) and a painful vacuum of stardust that hid a heart of empathy and altruism, not to forget humility and a shrewd sense of commercial survival – Abdul Khader-turned Prem Nazir, the demi-God of Malayalam Cinema is a hard act to follow, and a harder one to fulfill.

I did a dip-stick survey amongst a cross – section of my friends who best represented his early years, his reigning years, and then his more reigning years, and asked them to describe the phenomenon of Prem Nazir in five simple words, more like what the Actor/Star meant to them, his character portrayals, his movies and his charisma. What came out was something astounding ! All of them, with a very few exceptions, came out with words that more or less resonated with each other.

While a young poet went “Mish-mash of emotions, Evergreen, Perfect lipsynch, Old school and the Most Handsome until Prithvi“, another respected Mistress of Letters waxed “Handsome, Well behaved, Evergreen, Suits all sorts of heroines and would have made a decent villain” – regardless of the reason that they were separated by 20-odd years ! I guess, that in a nutshell, mostly answers what we have come to know of this evergreen phenomenon in Malayalam Cinema, whom Thikkurissy christened Prem Nazir.

There was a gifted aspect of his that we never allowed to be exploited to the fullest, his surprising flair for comedy! Though it took the likes of Priyadarshan and Balachandra Menon, young turks of those times to cast him in portrayals which was a sea-change from the ones that he was willingly chained against by his peer directors and producers.

I have always believed that the chain on Bhranthan Velayudhan’s right ankle was a symbol of the one that we, as his life-long star-struck minions, had put on Prem Nazir the actor, that always had him, proverbially, going around the same tree, over and over.

Here is to you Sir. 22 years on, your memories are just the way you left it. Ever Green.

A clip from Karyam Nissaram (1983) – the Thanutha Soda One !

2 thoughts on “7 April 1926 – 16 January 1989 | Remembering Malayalam Cinema’s Evergreen Hero

  1. Doesn’t that picture up there signify it all? His face could explode into a flurry of emotions, right on cue from the first note of a song, but so very effortless. In a way, Malayalam’s first superstar never behaved like one until the early 80s threw up a string of superstars who still continue to bother us with their frozen feet and equally frozen histrionics.

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