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Actor who sensed the soul of characters

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Actor Murali’s body being taken home from hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. –
Actor Murali’s body being taken home from hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. –

N.J. Nair

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The untimely demise of actor Murali marks the end of an actor who had seriously pursued novel experiments in cinema and theatre.

This fellow-traveller of the Left and progressive movements had taken life as an indefatigable pursuit of the progressive element in theatre and cinema. The rich theatre experience had equipped him to sense the soul of the characters assigned to him. Appa, the central character of Neythukaran, which won him the Bharat Award, had put to test his histrionic skills.

Well before making his debut in cinema through Njattadi, directed by Bharat Gopi, Murali had registered his presence in theatre and had won a place of pride in the hearts of those who had a passion for the experimental theatre. He used to fall into a trance before attempting a character on stage. This hibernation, he had described as an inexplicable physical conditioning to don the character. Even after turning busy in mainstream cinema and acting in more than 350 films within a career spanning 30 years, Murali cherished his love for theatre and kept alive the spark of creativity he garnered in the course of his association with Kavalam Narayana Panicker, Narendra Prasad, Nedumudi Venu and such other proponents of the modern theatre movement.

More than once Murali had expressed his resentment in doing stereotype characters such as corrupt politician and police officers fighting against the ills dogging the social system. The basic nature of the characters will all be the same. Nothing changes except the names and the heroines. This dreary repetition of characters had irked him and he had longed to do roles such as those of the theatre activist he did in Bharathan’s Chamayam and the fisherman in another Bharathan film Amaram.

Before taking over as Chairman of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi, he had an idea to direct a film, but he relinquished it saying he lacked the patience. Had he taken to direction, Malayalam would have got a good film too.

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