Oduvil Unnikrishnan (February 13, 1944 to May 27, 2006) was a versatile actor who portrayed a remarkable array of characters that ranged from the serious to the flippant, in several hundred films in Malayalam. This book is a tribute to an actor who, right from an early age, decided that his career and mission in life was with music and acting. During his school days, Oduvil excelled in playing musical instruments and was active in theatre. Without completing his education, he left school to join KPAC theatre. He was also a singer and a composer. The biography reveals that Oduvil was a humanist to the core, always willing to lend a hand to the needy, and was very down-to-earth too.
It does justice to the celebrated and committed actor and reveals the man behind the greasepaint. Oduvil, the individual, despite his weaknesses and idiosyncrasies, outweighs the brilliant actor that he was. That is how Oduvil seems to have secured the affection of all those who have contributed to this compilation.
Oduvil bagged awards galore, including the Kerala State Film Award for the best actor in 2002 for his role of Kaliyappan in Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Nizhalkoothu. He won the award for the best supporting actor in 1995 and 1996, besides several other honours.
Adoor, who brought out the best in Oduvil, evaluates the actor and the man in his brilliant introduction to the book, which sets the tone.
The first chapter deals with Oduvil's empathy and sensitivity to every one and every thing. The chapter on his life reveals his childhood; the tragedy of losing both his parents, of being bought up by his elder brothers and sister, his aversion to academics, and his talent in theatre and music.
The sequential march from theatre to films follows with an overview of the diversity of characters presented by Oduvil. There is a separate chapter on his most memorable characters such as Othikkan (Parinayam), Appunni Nair (Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal), Valia Thampuram (Sargam), Krishnavarma Thampuran (Aaram Thampuran), Krishna Kurup (Cherupunchiri) and of course, the inimitable Kaliyappan. The characters mentioned in the book are mostly serious roles and his many light-hearted roles that reveal his keen sense of comic timing have not been elaborated upon. Another chapter in the book deals with his family life and how his family has coped up with his loss.
There are six annexures in the book. One is a tribute by renowned film personalities such as Nedumudi Venu, V.K. Sreeraman, N.N. Krishna Das, T.R. Ajayan and Lal Jose, who recount their memories and association with the actor. They recall their friendship with the actor and one of them even talks about his political leanings. These memories reveal Oduvil's talent, humility, and innocence, all of which he retained till his dying day.
“Oduvil was a traveller all through, reminding us that the greatness of man is the greatness of his mind”. This tribute by director Sathyan Anthikkad aptly sums it all up.