An authentic, natural actor

T. Ramavarman

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Authenticity and originality were the hallmarks of the acting genre of Bharat Gopi who passed away here on Tuesday.

Through his brilliant and organic performances, Gopi could break many of the established academic frameworks of acting, besides popular myths on film stars. V. Gopinathan Nair, who became Gopi in the artistic field, was born on November 8, 1937 at Chirayankeezhu in Thiruvananthapuram district. He was active in the theatre right from his early days and was closely associated with the eminent theatre personalities like the late G. Sankara Pillai and Kavalam Narayana Panicker.

Though ‘Swayamvaram’ (1972) was his debut film, it was the superb performance in Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s ‘Kodiyettam’ (1977) that established him as an actor par excellence in the celluloid field. It won him the national film award for acting which was then known as Bharat Award. He had won the State’s best actor awards in 1977 (Kodiyettam), in 1982 (Ormakkayi), in 1983 (Ente Mamattikutti Ammakku, Eenam, Eettillam and Kattathe Kilikkoodu, and in 1985 (Chidambaram), besides the best supporting actor award in 1980 (Kallan Pavithran). He was awarded Padma Sri in 1991.

Gopi had also won Special Jury Award at the Asia Pacific International Film Festival, Tokyo, in 1985. His contributions to the theatre were also impressive. His performance in the play ‘Ottayan’ directed by Kavalam Narayana Panicker had won remarkable critical acclaim when it was staged in Mumbai during the East-West Theatre Encounter in early 1980s.

Film buffs would never forget his performances in the films like Yavanika, Palangal, Kallan Pavithran and Peruvazhiyambalam.

The book ‘Abhinayam Anubhavam’ authored by Gopi had won the national award for the best book on cinema.

Gopi had brief stints as film producer and director as well. Gopi was paralysed by a stroke in 1986 at the height of his career. It unfortunately coincided with the near death bell of the ‘middle cinema’ in Malayalam.

This stream of films, which had patrons like the late directors Padmarajan and Bharathan and K.G. George and Mohan, was drawing heavily then on the naturalistic acting talents of Gopi.

Even though many had feared then that he was lost for ever for the cinema field, he staged a come back after several years of treatment, becoming active in the film field as producer, director and actor.