The mystique of MT Vasudevan Nair characters (2023)

My initiation to the world of MT Vasudevan Nair was through movies. The only piece of writing I have read was part of our school syllabus, Kadugannawa Oru Yathra, a fascinating little memoir about his childhood, and his father’s stint in Sri Lanka. Being an avid movie fan at a very young age, without really registering his name or the magnitude of his myth, I intuitively became a fan (my mother, who was an avid MT reader, had a big hand in this). Nirmalyam was the first MT film I watched, and it remained a vague memory, not realising that I had just witnessed a classic. Iruttinde Athmavu, which I saw on TV that had a mentally deranged Prem Nazir shouting to be chained, disturbed me for days. Neelathamara about a young domestic help in a decadent Nair Tharavadu, who has a clandestine affair with the scion of the family and is left in the lurch, was too complicated for an adolescent to interpret. And later I remember devouring most of his films on TV, and I loved his world-building and felt a kinship with his characters. There was a strange pensiveness that seemed to encompass the stories. As the writer is set to celebrate his 90th birthday, I decided to make a list of my favourite MT Vasudevan Nair characters.

My first impression of Chandu (Mammootty) in Hariharan’s Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha (1989) was that of a victimised hero—the 16th-century warrior who was always let down by people he trusted. Right from his childhood, Chandu felt inferior and obligated to people. From his guru who adopted him to his childhood sweetheart Unniyarcha to her brother Aromal, the reclusive Chandu was always fighting to belong. There was a dichotomy in the fact that despite being a matchless fighter, who believed till the end that he was unbeatable, Chandu was an emotional wreck, who constantly weltered in self-pity. All his life he hankered after love and acceptance and eventually, he achieved that only through death, ending up as an epic hero.

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Sathyanathan (Mohanlal) in Sibi Malayil’s Sadayam (1992) is an orphan like Chandu, bitter and angry with the world for snatching away his childhood. Both are deeply scarred, unhappy men. Though, unlike Chandu, Sathyan also had to carry the cross for being the child of a sex worker. He grows up with a deep-rooted hatred for sex workers. Despite having a kind priest to mentor him, you can see that he takes time to trust humans. It is perhaps the ghosts of his past that blindly drive him to slaughter two adolescent girls, though in his mind he was rescuing them from a life of misery. There was something very perplexing yet compassionate about this talented, morbidly gloomy man who teeters on the verge of sanity.

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If Sathyanathan internalised the humiliations and rejections, Jayakrishnan (Mohanlal) in IV Sasi’s Uyarangalil (1984) used it as an excuse to take up a life of debauchery and greed. He is bitter, ruthless, and doesn’t have a single kind bone left in his body. From using women and men as pawns to further his ambitions and later disposing of them, what’s unnerving about Jayakrishnan is his deathly calm even when he is cornered. And till the end, he remained remorseless and cursed the world for his misdeeds.

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Adiyozhukkukal’s (1984 directed by IV Sasi) Karunan (Mammootty) turned out to be a trope for brooding, angry heroes in Malayalam cinema (later used by AK Lohitadas in so many films). The one who hid a kind heart craving to be loved under the garb of a rude and rough exterior. Haridas (Mohanlal), who battled with guilt all his life and yearned for redemption in Hariharan’s Amritam Gamaya (1987), and Harikumar directed Sukrutham’s (1994) Ravishankar (Mammootty) who realises that the greatest mistake he did was to come back from the jaws of death are characters that endlessly haunt me. More than the fiery Indira in Hariharan’s Panchagni (1986), I felt drawn towards the sensitive Rasheed (Mohanlal) who carried a torch for her.

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The Naxal activist (Devan) in Hariharan’s Aranyakam (1988) complemented the irreverence of the irrepressible Ammini (Saleema). Only he seems to understand the reveries and oddities of the teenager who finds a kind ally in the stranger she meets in a forest. Perhaps he saw himself in her. Janakikutty (from Ennu Swantham Janakikutty directed by Hariharan) and Ammini would have been soul sisters—both are lost in their own worlds, trying hard to decipher the ordinariness of people around them.

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MT’s women have always learned the fine art of balancing—they bargain, contest, and flourish while staying within the patriarchal structures. They are never ordinary. Unniyarcha (Madhavi) in Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha is the proverbial femme fatale, who uses her feminine wiles to ensnare Chandu and cannily throws him away from her life. Yet she smartly turns the situation in her favour. Aarcha is a skilled fighter but plays the coy game in front of Chandu and manages to retain an air of mystery.

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It's difficult to forget Ammukutty (Seema) in IV Sasi’s Alkootathil Thaniye (1984)–the serene, gentle, compassionate woman who was so giving in relationships. Even when her lover cowardly forsakes her for better prospects, Ammukutty silently moved on but never married again. It’s almost astonishing to come across someone so selfless, tirelessly helping people without expecting anything in return. But having said that she was no doormat. When her former lover’s wife offers to pay her back for babysitting their son, she throws the money right back at her. Only Ammukutty can call out her ex-lover for being selfish and narrow-minded, advising him to support his wife’s ambitions.

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There are traces of Ammukutty in Sunanda (IV Sasi’s Anubandham). Both are women who have loved and lost and yet trying to come to terms with their reality, without nursing grudges against anyone. Being a single mother in a village reeked of casteism and patriarchy, she has to regularly deal with lecherous men and gossipy women. True, she finds an anchor in Murali, unlike Ammukutty, but even there it is not easy for her to choose, being a woman. Yet Sunanda keeps her head high, enterprisingly running a kindergarten and gratefully grabbing what life has to offer her, even amidst adversity.

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If there is one MT female character that left me wanting more, it has to be Saleena (Suparna) in Pavithran’s Utharam (1989). The forlorn and dreamy award-winning poet who buried her nose inside books, and one fine day decides to end her life. That, we are piecing her together with the help of her friend Balu, after her death, makes her even more of a delicious mystery. The one with a mad sense of imagination but was painfully naïve, who never really got around to understanding the cruelty that occurred in her teenage years. Saleena settles happily in domesticity, with a husband who indulged her and then there was this beautiful bond with Balu. People had only good memories of her. MT sketches her in such a way that each of us gets a separate image in our minds. She could be all that and more.

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And then there is my all-time favourite couple of Malayalam cinema—Krishna Kuruppu and Ammalukutty in Oru Cheru Punchiri (2000), who somehow lend wistfulness, naturality, and infinite charm to the concept of growing old together with your partner. The aged couple who continued to uphold love in all its profundity, despite wrinkles and warts. I, for one, will be eternally grateful to MT Vasudevan Nair for giving us Malayalam cinema’s most loved couple!

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What is the nickname of M. T. Vasudevan Nair? ›

Madath Thekkepaattu Vasudevan Nair (born 1933 July 15 ), popularly known as MT, is an Indian author, screenplay writer and film director.

What is Randamoozham in English? ›

Randamoozham (English: The Second Turn) is a 1984 Indian Malayalam-language mythological drama novel written by the Indian author M. T. Vasudevan Nair, widely credited as his masterpiece. The work won the Vayalar Award, given for the best literary work in Malayalam, in 1985.

Which drama is written by Mt Vasudevan Nair? ›

Gopuranatayil is the main play composed by M T Vasudevan Nair. It won the Kerala State Award for the best proficient show in 1978. He won the prize for the best short story in Malayalam at the World Short Story Competition conducted by The New York Herald Tribune.

When was M. T. Vasudevan Nair born? ›

What is nalukettu mt vasudevan Nair about? ›

Naalukettu is a veritable depiction of the matriarchal social order of Kerala's Nair community in its final gasp for life. The hero Appunni is a scion of a once rich and powerful family. Appunni is the son of a woman who married a man of her own choices and who did not marry the man whom her Karnavar suggested.

Where was Mt Vasudevan Nair born? ›

M. T. Vasudevan Nair, one of the most respected Indian writers today, was born on August 15, 1934 in Kudallur, a small village in Palakkad district, Kerala.

What is the significance of the title The Second Turn? ›

The title itself has the touch of a genius and is a fitting way to showcase the second-hand treatment meted out to Bhima by everyone all through his life.

What is the Netflix anthology for M. T. Vasudevan Nair? ›

MT Vasudevan Nair will be scripting 10 stories for a Netflix Anthology in Malayalam. Mammootty, Mohanlal, Fahad Faasil, Asif Ali, Shanti Krishna will be featured in the short movies directed by Lijo Jose Pellisery, Priyadarshan, Jayaraj, Shyamaprasad, Santosh Sivan, and Mahesh Narayanan.

What are the themes in mist of M. T. Vasudevan Nair? ›

The theme ofstillnessin the novelM.T. Vasudevan Nair narrates a death-in-life situation through the novel. The novel aboundswith images of stillness. Vimala's life could be called a still life, where it indicates 'stillness inlife' and 'still there is life'. Hence Vimala experiences both these.

Who is known as the first father of drama? ›

Henrik Ibsen is famously known as the Father of Modern Drama, and it is worth recognizing how literal an assessment that is. The Norwegian playwright was not merely one of a wave of new writers to experiment with dramatic form, nor did he make small improvements that were built upon by successors.

Which was the first film directed by M. T. Vasudevan Nair? ›

M.T. Vasudevan Nair was born on August 9, 1933 in Kudallur, Kerala, British India. He is a writer and director, known for Nirmalyam (1973), Kadavu (1991) and Oru Cheru Punchiri (2000).

Which Kerala Sahitya Academy Award was awarded for M. T. Vasudevan Nair? ›

M. T. Vasudevan Nair is also the recipient of Kendra Sahitya Academy awards in 1971, 1982 & 1986. But the highlight of his literary life was when the nation honoured MT with the highest literary award, the Jnanpeeth in 1995.

What is the meaning of Nalukettu? ›

Nalukettu means four blocks and a typical house built in this fashion would be divided into a north, south, east, and west block.

What is traditional Nalukettu houses in Kerala? ›

A Nalukettu house is a traditional style of architecture in Kerala. It is a rectangular construction made up of four blocks connected by an open courtyard. For centuries, the people of Kerala have lived in Nalukettu houses, which are rich in traditional art and architecture.

What is the house around the courtyard by M. T. Vasudevan Nair about? ›

It is the story of Appunni, a young boy who belongs to a Nair tharavad in MT's native village. Appunni's childhood is filled with social misery as he is brought up without the care and protection of a father or the prestige of the matrilineal home to which he belongs.

What is the significant turning point of the story? ›

A turning point in a story is a moment in the plot when a character must make a decision that will change the course of the story. Every turn involves decisive change and either helps with character development or keeps the story moving.

What is the book title turning point? ›

The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture is a 1982 book by Fritjof Capra, in which the author examines perceived scientific and economic crises through the perspective of systems theory.

What is the significance of the title of the story what does the title mean? ›

A title creates anticipation and expectation or, perhaps, disinterest. Often the title is what will determine whether or not someone reads a story.

What is the nonlinear anthology series on Netflix? ›

Kaleidoscope is being called a "Non-Linear Streaming Experience" by Netflix, and that's because you're invited to watch the eight episodes in any order you like, with the story making sense whichever way you go.

What Netflix series is Dennis Quaid in? ›

Merry Happy Whatever is an American comedy streaming television series starring Dennis Quaid.

What are the themes in Jhumpa Lahiri's novels? ›

Jhumpa Lahiri's novels and short stories deal with the underlying themes of identity, communication and Indian-American life. In books like The Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake, the author explores the relationship between first and second generation immigrants in America and how they grow apart.

Who was the Greek killed by falling turtle? ›

According to legend, the Greek playwright Aeschylus met a tragic death: one day, an eagle that had just caught a tortoise mistook Aeschylus's bald head for a shiny rock, and accidentally killed the author by dropping the animal onto him.

Who was the first actor ever? ›

According to tradition, in 534 or 535 BC, Thespis astounded audiences by leaping on to the back of a wooden cart and reciting poetry as if he was the characters whose lines he was reading. In doing so he became the world's first actor, and it is from him that we get the world thespian.

Who was the first actor to act alone? ›

November 23 marks the traditional date when the first ever human being to take the stage and portray someone else other than himself took place. This person, according to various sources, most notably Aristotle, was a man named Thespis of Icaria.

Who is the oldest directors first film? ›

That distinction goes to George Abbott, who was 107 and seven months when he passed away on 31 January 1995. Primarily known as a playwright, Abbott began acting in films in 1918 and made his directorial bow with The Carnival Man (1929).

Who was the first Indian movies? ›

Cinema was started in 1913 with Raja Harishchandra being the Indian silent film directed and produced by Dadasaheb Phalke. It is often considered the first full-length Indian feature film.

Who was the first Pakistani movie? ›

The first Pakistani-film produced was Teri Yaad, directed by Daud Chand in 1948. Between 1947 and 2007, Pakistani cinema was predominately based in Lahore, home to the nation's largest film industry (nicknamed Lollywood).

Who was the first Indian to win any literary award? ›

Jnanpith Award
Total awarded62
First winnerG. Sankara Kurup
9 more rows

Which is the biggest Novel award in Kerala? ›

The Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Novel is an award given every year by the Kerala Sahitya Akademi (Kerala Literary Academy) to Malayalam writers for writing a novel of literary merit.

Which is the biggest award in Kerala? ›

The highest civilian honor in Kerala, the “Kerala Jyothi,” was awarded to the writer M T Vasudevan Nair. The second-highest award, “Kerala Prabha,” was shared by actor Mammootty, former civil service officer T Madhava Menon, and writer Omchery NN Pillai.

Who wrote the first drama book? ›

Aeschylus' historical tragedy The Persians is the oldest surviving drama, although when it won first prize at the City Dionysia competition in 472 BC, he had been writing plays for more than 25 years.

Who is the founder of poetic drama? ›

Eliot who, both through his theory and practice of poetic drama, has achieved considerable success in establishing tradition of poetic plays in the 20th century.

Who wrote the famous drama? ›

A playwright is someone who writes plays.

Why was drama a banned book? ›

We do know that the book was claimed to be “sexually explicit” and was removed from the elementary school's library, while three copies remain in Chapel Hill Independent School District's combined middle/high school library.

Who is considered the greatest English drama? ›

William Shakespeare, English poet, dramatist, and actor often called the English national poet and considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time.

What is drama for kids? ›

Drama gives children the opportunity to explore and the freedom to imagine. Through drama, children express themselves using different facial expressions, voices and tones, and body language. Drama empowers children to communicate confidently and it is also an effective way of learning languages.

Which short story by M. T. Vasudevan Nair formed the basis of malayalam film nirmalyam? ›

The movie is an adaptation of the short story "Pallivalum Kalchilambum" by M. T. Vasudevan Nair.

Which is the first Indian indigenous film? ›

It is often considered the first full-length Indian feature film. Raja Harishchandra features Dattatraya Damodar Dabke, Anna Salunke, Bhalchandra Phalke, and Gajanan Vasudev Sane and is based on the legend of Harishchandra, with Dabke portraying the title character.

What are the 4 types of dramatic poetry? ›

There are four main types of dramatic poetry. They are dramatic monologue, soliloquy, character sketch, and dialogue.

Who started spoken word poetry? ›

The origins of spoken word poetry starts in the 1920s with jazz poets. These performers recited poetry alongside jazz music being played. The improvisation of jazz perfectly accompanies improvisation in spoken word. Langston Hughes was known to perform his poetry with jazz accompaniment.

Who is the father of drama in literature? ›

Full name: Henrik Johan Ibsen. Norwegian playwright, theatre director and poet, and considered the father of modern realistic drama. Born in Skien in Telemark 20 March 1828, died in Kristiania (now Oslo) 23 May 1906.

Who is the biggest drama writer? ›

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as greatest writer of the English language, and the world's greatest dramatist. He wrote over 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and many other works.

What do you call a person who writes a drama? ›

Also Called. Dramatist. Playwrights are writers who specialize in telling stories for the stage. Careers in Theater.

Who was the first person to drama? ›

Most theater and history buffs can name Thespis of ancient Greece, the world's first known actor, and the origin of theater term thespian. Some believe he was also a priest for the Greek god of food and wine, Dionysus.


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