The happiest person in Malayalam cinema: Lal remembers Unnikrishnan Namboothiri

Malayalam cinema lost its beloved grandfather, veteran actor Unnikrishnan Namboothiri who had charmed the audience with his incredible talent and amazing grace. His friends and colleagues in the cinema industry mourn the nonagenarian actor who breathed his last yesterday. Actor – Director Lal, who produced the blockbuster movie Kalyanaraman in which Unnikrishnan Namboothiri had played an unforgettable character, remembers the latter as someone who had enjoyed life a lot.

Great loss

“I believe that a person who approaches life with happiness and content would enjoy longevity. Unnikrishnan Namboothiri was such a person. I haven’t seen anyone who enjoyed life as much as him. He should have lived for so many more years. His death is indeed a great loss for all of us,” says Lal.

“Director Jayaraj had called me to discuss about the marketing and release of his acclaimed movie Deshadanam. I went to Ernakulam Shenoy’s theater to watch the movie. I was shocked watching the film. An aged artist had performed spectacularly in it. A true human being couldn’t help but cry watching that movie. That is when I asked about the old actor who had amazed me. There is no point in marketing this movie just like any other film. I told the makers to market the movie as if Mammootty and Mohanlal had watched it and expressed their wish to be in this film. Deshadanam was a huge success. It had a rare history of being a highly success movie despite having no big artists or stars. Unnikrishnan Namboothiri’s incredible performance played a pivotal role in the success of the film,” notes the actor.

The energetic person

Lal recalls casting Unnikrishnan Namboothiri in his movie Kalyanaraman. He remembers Nomboothiri as an extremely energetic person. “He would spread his energy in the sets as well. A group of people would always be around him, joking and laughing with him. Unnikrishnan Namboothiri was the youngest in that set. We were a bit skeptical to make him do a few comedy scenes. However, leaving all of us spellbound, he did it as soon as those scenes were explained,” recalls Lal. 

Once someone told Lal that Unnikrishnan Namboothiri may have wished to act in movies earlier itself. However, Lal thinks that the nonagenarian actor was satisfied with the roles that he got and was not someone who was sad of not entering the films sooner.  “He once told me that including a particular shloka (metrical poem in Sanskrit) in the movie could bring success. I was shocked when he sang that shloka. We had already included it in the beginning of the song Kathayile Rajakumaran. When I told him this, he said that the movie would become a mega success as we had included the shloka unintentionally without knowing the significance of it. Unnikrishnan Namboothiri vowed that the people would love the movie. Just as he had predicted, the movie became a grand success. Even today, when someone talks about Kalyanaraman I still remember him. He had even taken part in the success event of the movie. Later, we couldn’t be in touch frequently due to our busy schedules. However, his face is what instantly comes to my mind whenever someone talks about Kalyanaraman,” says Lal.

Covid-19 effects

The actor calls Unnikrishnan Namboothiri a good hearted person who had always enjoyed life. “He was a strict vegetarian. I had asked him how he stays happy eating only vegetarian food. He deserves to live for at least 150 years if you consider his life style and great character. Usually, people who are happier tend to live longer, right? He may have lost his life due to complications related to Covid-19. I am extremely sad hearing the news about his demise. We have lost the happiest person in the cinema industry. I pray that his family has the strength to overcome this difficult time,” concluded Lal. 

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