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Mimicry legend going strong at 75

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Moment to cherish: Renowned mimicry and ventriloquism artiste Padmasri Nerella Venumadhav being felicitated in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.
Moment to cherish: Renowned mimicry and ventriloquism artiste Padmasri Nerella Venumadhav being felicitated in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

G.V. Prasada Sarma

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Grand Old Man of mimicry and ventriloquism Nerella Venumadhav has shown that his verve and love for the art that he has perfected for so long has not waned.

At a programme here on Thursday, he not only mimicked voices of a few great personalities but also gave a glimpse of the effort that had gone into fine-tuning his performances.

By sheer coincidence, the artiste who turns 75 on Friday was among his age group as the felicitation was organised by Vintage Visakha, a forum for the elderly, and Forum for Welfare of Senior Citizens.

He recalled his innate ability to mimic anyone just like that. He was so good and spontaneous at mimicking that he had to hold himself back lest his parents should get him treated to curb it!

Language book

Whether it’s the voice of legendary singing star Bhanumathi or that of theatre artiste Vemuri Gaggaiah, it hardly mattered to him. Once he had made his mark, there was no looking back.

But in the initial stages he had to spend time on deciding which dialect he should use. After going through a language book by Ganti Jogi Somayajulu, he decided to adapt the language used by Telugu film heroes.

For speeches in English, he chose the style of the late President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. He fondly recalls his meeting with the noted educationist along with Chittor V. Nagayya. Radhakrishnan held Nagayya in such a high esteem that he came out to welcome him when they met him. Mr. Venumadhav finds English in biblical films quite clear.

He mimicked a scene from ‘Panic in Bangkok’ to prove how difficult it was to follow.

The voices he mimicked were a peep into history. Gandhiji, Subhash Chandra Bose, and Lal Bahadur Shastri were a few on the day. Thanks to his early schooling in Urdu medium in a village in Warnagal district, he still retains his flair for chaste Urdu.

During one of his trips to Dubai, he vowed a taxi driver with Urdu and got a free ride. A Padma awardee and recipient of honorary doctorates, he designed the syllabus for a diploma in mimicry for Potti Sriramulu Telugu University and taught the subject there.

Mr. Venumadhav describes mimicry as a fine blend of all arts. Vintage Visakha president P.V. Krishnaiah, secretary Y.V.S.R. Moorty and Forum for Welfare of Senior Citizens Bayya Suryanarayana and R.V. Gopala Rao participated.


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