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Against all odds

m.l. narasimham
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tribute Actor Nutan Prasad's life was an inspirational story on how to conquer pain and come out triumphant

inspiration to all Nutan Prasad Photo: Mohammed Yousuf
inspiration to all Nutan Prasad Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

A n evening in October 1980, a scribe went to interview Nutan Prasad who was at Venus Studios, Madras to dub for his forthcoming film, President Peramma in which he played the hero. The scribe waited for the actor to emerge from the dubbing theatre instead he alighted from the car which was making rounds in the studio grounds. That was the first car he bought, a second hand ambassador and he gleefully said that he was test driving it. Like the manner in which he drove on that winter evening, his career too zoomed to new heights. From a protagonist to antagonist, from comedian to a comic villain he essayed brilliantly a wide variety of characters before ironically a car accident in a studio set up crippled him in 1989 while he was shooting for Bamma Mata Bangaru Baata.

While he was recouping at Vijaya Health Center, the Kannada movie icon Rajkumar who went there for traction (he fell while riding a horse for a Kannada film) saw him in a wheel chair, sauntered towards him to wish him and introduced himself as “Rajkumar, a Kannada movie actor and an admirer of Nutan Prasad's acting.”

An overwhelmed Nutan Prasad thanked him. Such was the popularity enjoyed by him in other film industries. Prasad in his quest for excellence in acting promoted Pawan International and made O Amma Katha. To give it a truly different flavour he even changed its director Perala Subrahmanyam's name as Vasanth Sen! Nutan Prasad admired Sarada for her sensitive portrayals. She was a great admirer of Maxim Gorky's Mother, Sarada found traces of that character in her role as mother in the movie and readily agreed to act along with Nutan Prasad in the lead. The film might not have set the box office on fire but it won critical acclaim and Prasad cherished that.

He believed in the dictum, ‘make-believe and acting' and tried to inject realism as much as possible in his portrayals. Though he had proved in different characters largely he had been branded as a comedy actor and he once said that he was happy making people laugh and at the same time also wondered how he became a comedy actor in the first place! To generate comedy he depended more on the strength of the dialogue than on body language. His peculiar diction added colour to the humour.

Nutan Prasad was also quick to retract his folly. During the shoot of Badayi Basavanna at Kakinada, the unit members were felicitated by some organisation. Prasad who was sitting on the stage smoked nonchalantly. The next day a fan pointed this to him. Prasad conveyed his apologies and said he was prepared to take vanda gunjillu or goda kurchi as a punishment for his sin, if they arrange another function at the same venue. Even in his apology one can find the humour tinge. By then a popular stage actor, Nutan Prasad started his career as an employee of HAL in Hyderabad. Cinema brought him to Chennai. He had seen glory and pain in equal proportions but never lost his head to glory or self to permanent physical disability. He will remain an inspiration to all those who seek to conquer pain and come out triumphant.

Nutan Prasad might have passed away on March 30 in Hyderabad, but his cinematic characters and his story of courage to face life against all odds will be long remembered.

m.l. narasimham

He had seen glory and pain in equal proportions


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