The image of film actor Balan K. Nair may be entrenched in Malayali minds as an inimitable villain. But for the people of Shoranur, where he lived after his marriage, Balan K. Nair is still their man next door.
Twenty-two years have passed since Nair succumbed to multiple myeloma. The people of Shoranur under the banner of the Prabhatham Kala Samskarika Vedi used to commemorate him by conducting a drama festival in his name. But not any longer since 2017.
Without any commemoration or celebration, yet another death anniversary of Balan K. Nair passed on Friday. His widow Sharada and actor-son Meghanathan offered tributes at Nair’s cenotaph erected in the courtyard of their house at Vadanamkurissi, near Shoranur.
Ever since he shifted from his native Chemanchery, near Koyilandi, to Vadanamkurissi, Nair remained so affable to the people of Shoranur that they never looked up to him as an actor. “He was so down-to-earth and friendly and used to walk along the railway tracks to reach his home from the Shoranur railway station,” said P.K. Ramachandran, former secretary of the samskarika vedi.
Many people at Vadanamkurissi still remember Nair’s regular walk along the railway tracks. With Mr. Ramachandran retiring from active cultural life, the drama festival in Balan K. Nair’s name too has come to a halt.
Western suit and pipe may have been his style on the screen. But it was in a dhoti that he accepted the National Film Award for the Best Actor that he won for his role in Oppol in 1981. “For the people of Shoranur, he was so endearing a character,” said Mr. Ramachandran.
Nair’s contributions to Malayalam theatre and cinema were seminal. Yet, the authorities seem to have forgotten him. “At least a road that leads to his house at Vadanamkurissi should be named after Balan K. Nair. He chose to settle down near Shoranur. Either the Shoranur municipality or the Ongallur grama panchayat should do something in memory of the great actor,” said cultural activist Prasad K. Shoranur.