The first major award in Nedumudi Venu's acting career came eight years after his debut in Malayalam cinema. It was in 1980 that he won the state award for second best actor for charming performance as a student-priest in Chamaram, directed by Bharathan. The next year, he improved his stature winning the state award for best actor for Vidaparayum Munpe.
It took another 10 years for a national recognition as he won the award for best supporting actor for the film His Highness Abdullah. In an illustrious career spanning nearly five decades, several state and national awards came his way even though one for the best actor in the country, which he deserved undoubtedly, remained elusive. Here's a look at his major award-winning performances.
Maharaja Udayavarma (His Highness Abdullah), National Award for Best Supporting Actor - 1990
Nedumudi Venu won the national award for best supporting actor for his impeccable portrayal of Maharaja Udayavarma, the patriarch of an erstwhile royal family. He was only 42 when he played the character who was above 60 for sure. Venu had a knack of playing elderly characters from a very early age. He immortalised the regal old man, a connoisseur of classical arts, who couldn't realise the true colours of his kin. Mohanlal played the lead role in the film directed by Siby Malayil.
Venukumara Menon (Margam) National Special Jury Award; State Award for Best Actor – 2003
In Margam, Nedumudi Venu played the protagonist, a former militant communist revolutionary who now lives a secluded life as a lecturer in a local college. The film was directed by Rajiv Vijaya Raghavan.
Father Nedumudi (Chamaram), State Award for Second Best Actor – 1980
Nedumudi Venu played a Catholic priest who is also a college student in the 1980 sensational film Chamaram. Venu essayed the character of the shy priest who is always bullied even by the girl students of the college. It was one among the many versatile characters offered to him by the master filmmaker Bharathan.
Xavier (Vidaparayum Munpe) State Award for Best Actor – 1981
Vida Parayum Munpe is one of the masterpieces of Venu from his early years as an actor. In the film directed by Mohan, he played Xavier, a stenographer who tries to make his final days of life as cheerful as possible even as he keeps his terminal illness a secret from others.
Ravunni Nair (Oru Minnaminunginte Nurunguvettam) State Best Actor - 1987
Nedumudi Venu won his second state award for best actor, again with a Bharathan film. In Oru Minnaminunginte Nurunguvettam, he played Ravunni Nair, a retired schoolteacher. Again, his ability to transcend his age with his acting prowess won him the top recognition.
Kalloor Ramanathan (Bharatham), Rajasekharan Thampi (Santhvanam) Special Jury Award – 1990
The state award jury gave him a special mention for the performances in two films in 1990. In Bharatham, he played Kalloor Ramanathan, a Carnatic music player who loses his family and career to his addiction to alcohol. Playing a musician was never a challenging role for Venu, who was also a musician in his own ways. In Santhvanam , he played an entirely different character, a caring grandfather.
Sreekrishnan Thampuran (Thenmavin Kombath) - State Award for Second Best Actor – 1994
Thenmavin Kombath undoubtedly is one of the most popular films of Nedumudi Venu. In the Priyadarshan film, which is a colourful folktale on celluloid, Venu played Sreekrishnan Thampuran, a local satrap who shares a special bonding with his employee Manikyan (Mohanlal). Unlike his other award winning performances, Sreekrishnan is a character which offered Venu a chance to display his exceptional comic skills.
He also won the National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Film Narration and Kerala State Film Awards for best Voice Over for the film Minukku in 2006.
In 2001, he won the State Television award for Best Actor for the performance in Avasthantharangal.