Anil Nedumangad becomes another of promising young talent that Malayalam cinema lost this year
In 2014, filmmaker Rajeev Ravi was on the lookout for an actor to play an important cameo role in his second directorial Njan Steve Lopez.
In one of the discussions came up the name of Anil Nedumangad, whose work on the stage he was familiar with. That role of Freddie, a lean, bearded, perpetually drunk man who wore his carefree attitude on his sleeves stood out even though it was relatively short. He radiated a rare empathy, as the only one who understands the mind of the young protagonist, who is standing up for what he feels is right.
But, Anil, who died at the age of 48 on Friday evening after drowning while taking bath in the Malankara dam in Thodupuzha, was familiar to the public much before that. Before memes and troll groups ushered in a new kind of humour on social media, Anil had experimented with such a format on television as the presenter of shows such as Jurassic World, splicing together film clips and making commentaries on contemporary happenings.
Two years after his film debut came Rajeev Ravi’s Kammatipadam, in which he played the main antagonist role of a scheming local businessman who uses the bloodshed between local gangs to further his interests. It was a kind of break into the big league for him, as the role enabled him to showcase his acting range.
“I was familiar with his work from theatre. So, when I was looking for an actor for Freddie’s role in Steve Lopez, I chose him, because his look suited that character. One of his key strengths is that he could be moulded into any character, with drastic changes in his appearance, like how his look in Ayyappanum Koshiyum is much different than his previous characters. He was an actor with quite a lot of potential. He passed away at a time when he had broken into the mainstream,” Rajeev Ravi told The Hindu.
In the years that followed, he played a series of meaty roles which established him in the rung of a new generation of character actors. One of his most appreciated roles came early this year in Sachy’s Ayyappanum Koshiyum, in which he played Circle Inspector Satheesh Kumar, caught in between the egoistic fight between a policeman and a haughty upper class man.
One of his lines from that film, warning the brash Koshi about the kind of unstoppable force he is up against, has been one of the oft-quoted ones from the movie. He was last seen on screen in Shambhu Purushothaman’s Paapam Cheyyathavar Kalleriyatte as Rajan, a humorous role lampooning the self-destructive tragic heroes of 1970s Malayalam cinema.
On Friday morning, hours before his death, Anil had shared a Facebook post in tribute to director Sachy, who had passed away earlier this year. “You’ll remain my Facebook cover photo till death,” he had written.
The same evening Anil became another of the promising young talent that Malayalam cinema lost this year, after Sachy and Naranipuzha Shanavas, who died two days back following a heart attack.
That all of them were just beginning to taste success after long years of struggle in the margins makes it even more tragic.