Friday, January 16, 2009
Remembering Prem Nazir 'The Evergreen Hero'
Twenty years ago, on January 16, Prem Nazir faded away from the silver screen for one last time. Nevertheless, memories of him remain evergreen. With over 600 films as hero to his credit and that too with more than 100 films opposite the same heroine; starring with over 80 heroines and an average of 39 releases a year, it might be tempting to limit Nazir’s remarkable career to world records and statistics. But figures alone cannot explain the phenomenon that he was.
Nazir may not have been the ciritics’ favourite and he may not have won too many awards, but he conquered Malayali hearts like no actor did, before or after. He was quite simply, there first superstar; their first romantic hero.
Nazir has often been dismissed, sometimes too easily, as just a star and not an ‘actor’. But even his harshest critics could not have ignored his powerful performances in films such as ‘Iruttinte Athmavu,’ ‘Kallichellamma,’ ‘Dhawani,’ ‘Murappennu,’ ‘Anubhavangal Palichakal,’ ‘Padayottam,’ ‘Vida Parayum Munpe,’ ‘Azhakulla Saleena,’ and ‘Nadi.’
The man who made his debut in Malayalam Cinema with ‘Marumakal’ in 1952 ended his career, rather unexpectedly, with ‘Dhwani’ in 1989.
People in the industry used to comment that Nazir’s face was expressionless. Little did they realize that he was then doing what we now call natural acting. And he did at a time when there was an overwhelming influence of theatre in our cinema.