The J.C. Daniel Award to Madhu is in recognition of his pioneering work in the Malayalam film industry as producer, director and actor.
The patriarch: Madhu
The J.C. Daniel Award is yet another recognition for Madhu, considered the patriarch of Malayalam cinema. The State Government's award is in recognition of the pioneering efforts made by Madhu to transplant Malayalam cinema from Mollywood to Kerala.
Taking the lead
While many of his colleagues limited their role to paying mere lip service to bring Malayalam film industry to Kerala, he took the initiative to make that a reality. With the advent of films like `Oolavum Theeravum,' which has Madhu in the lead, established production houses and studios paled into insignificance as the film was shot on location. In those days, Madhu was the one of the few actors who invested in the film industry. He opened a studio in Thiruvananthapuram and went on to produce and direct films that showcased his skills as a sensitive director. "It was not a commercial venture. Setting up the studio was part of my creative efforts. With the changes in technology, cinema moved out of the studios, yet a number of films were shot there and they were successful," he says.
Madhu says that he turned to production and direction to break out of the image of a lovelorn hero that was thrust on him by the industry. "I made the film `Priya' to prove my skill as an actor and also to get rid of the stereotype characters I had to do for a while. It was my urge to prove that I could do any challenging role that I took to production and direction."
It was his passion for acting that motivated him to quit his job as a lecturer.
A student of the National School of Drama, Madhu was supposed to make his debut in Ramu Kariat's film `Moodopadam.' But he first donned the greasepaint to act in `Ninamaninja Kaalpadukal' that was directed by K.N. Pisharody. "It was mere coincidence. Ramu Kariat met me in Delhi and he offered a role in `Moodupadam.' I went for a make-up test at New Tone Studio in Chennai where `Ninamaninja Kaalpaadukal' was being filmed. The producer Shobana Parameswaran Nair offered a role and I first acted in it," he recalls.
The milestone in his career was the all-time hit, `Chemmeen,' where he immortalised the character of Pareekutty. His performance in films such as `Eenipadikal,' `Thulabharam,' `Bhargavi Nilayam,' `Theekkanal,' `Swayamvaram' and `Oolavum Theeravum' made him the favourite of the critics. His directorial ventures, including `Sindhoora cheppu' and `Priya' won critical acclaim. Another film that won him accolades was the children's film `Mini,' which was directed by Madhu.
After a prolonged career in acting, Madhu donned the role of an educationist with relative ease.
Always understated and quiet, Madhu has always shunned the limelight and let his work speak for him. His greatest strength has been his progressive and positive outlook. "My public relation work is very poor. I deliberately keep away from limelight. I never had a secretary in my career," he says.
Despite being supportive of parallel films and themes, Madhu has never been a votary of ambiguous experiments in theatre that alienate the uninitiated audience.
By honouring Madhu, the Government has honoured one of the few actors who helped the fledging Malayalm film industry grow and develop a identity of its own.
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