‘Life Time Achievement Award’, for ‘the living legend, the pride of Kuttanadu’
by Elizabeth Menon

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Kala celebrates Annual Day with a difference: kuttanadan puncha and nostalgic memories of Thakazhi filled the air when ‘the living legend, the pride of Kuttanadu’ was ushered on to the stage with the traditional ‘thalappoli’. To a Malayalee, Nedumudi Venu is ‘living legend of Kuttanadu’, just as Yesudas is ‘Gandharvan’. Presidential address followed ‘Vandematharam’ by Preetha Menon. The spellbound audience feasting on the keynote speech by Nedumdi Venu, knew they had a long wait before they could have their idol exclusively for themselves, ‘for a face to face’. Rajeev Nath, one of the great film directors of our times, who won the President’s National Award for ‘Janani’ was a surprise guest and was given a warm welcome.

Kala excelled in organizing the variety of performances, choreographed and performed by its members. Music and dance filled the air with, Bharatha natyam, group dance, folk dance and cinematic dance. ‘Goodnight’, play by N N Pillai and the ‘Poothappattu’ that followed, delighted the audience. The excellent choreography and dedication of the participants were apparent in both.

The long awaited ‘face to face with Nedumudi’, of course was the highlight of the evening. Nedumudi’s wonderful sense of humour was evident through out the session. I must admit, that I was in awe, the way in which Venu answered some of the questions! “ What would you have been called, if you were born in ‘Thalamudi’, instead of ‘Nedumudi’, was one question, to which came the ‘tongue in cheek’ answer, to the delight of the audience. Venu narrated the following funny incident as his answer: two men were getting acquainted and one asked the other where he lived and he answered, “Thalavadi”, which annoyed the inquisitor; he in retaliation yelled “ I did not ask your profession”!! It required a great sense of humour to come up with such answers.
There was standing ovation, as Dr Sukumaran Nair presented the ‘Kala Life Time Achievement Award’ to Mr Venu; Ms. Sandira Reddy designed the exquisite sculpture, which was admired by all. Then it was time for the multi talented actor who came to our screens in Aravindan’s ‘Thampu’, to display his unique mastery of a long line of musical instruments. His gentle touch released a celestial flow from the ‘chenda’ and sublime notes from ‘udukku’ and mridungam. He also proved to the audience that he could even be a vocalist; after all, he won President’s award in ‘His Highness Abdullah’!

© E Menon



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