Khalid, the all rounder who loved art until his last breath

V P Khalid (L), with co-actors of the comedy show in Mazhavil Manorama, 'Marimayam'.

Kochi: V P Khalid’s demise would be a great loss to the Malayalam film and television industry as he could light up the screens instantly with his excellent acting prowess and spirited performances. Not many know that Khalid was once popularly known as Cochin Nagesh who was not only an excellent dancer but a talented singer, magician, playwright, director and makeup artist too. Khalid was a young boy when his parents Valiakathu VK Pareeth and Thanathuparambil Kunjipennu moved from Malabar to settle in Fort Kochi. A born artist, Khalid was keen to learn the disco dance that had been incredibly popular at that time. Moreover, he learned magical skills from Vazhakunnam Namboothiri. His cycle yajnam or bicycle performance had made him popular among the masses. Besides, he also performed dance routines, songs, puppetry and magic to entertain the crowds.

Khalid who acted in the plays of popular drama troupes Sanathana and Alleppey Theatres had also acted in many super hit films. In 1973, he essayed roles in ‘Periyar’, ‘Enipadikal’ and ‘Ponnapuram Kotta’. After a really long hiatus, Khalid returned to the silver screen to act in more than forty films including in movies like ‘Nadan’, ‘Anuraga Karikkin Vellam’, ‘Sunday Holiday’ and ‘Puzhu’. ‘Solomante Theneechakal’ directed by Lal Jose was the last movie in which Khalid had acted.

It was Father Mathew Kothakathu who gave him the name Cochin Nagesh. At a cycle performance in Chullikkal, Khalid entertained the crowd by mimicking the gestures of Tamil actor Nagesh. The priest who inaugurated the program was so impressed by Khalid’s performance that he called the artist Cochin Nagesh. PE Hameed, a veteran artist, recalls how Khalid had mesmerized the crowds as Sivaji Ganesan in the cycle performance of Cochin Franklin. Hameed says that he can never forget Khalid’s incredible performance, singing Sivaji Ganesan’s songs and dancing to them. Khalid used to regularly attend the meetings of Sayyanakoottam, a community of senior citizens. He loved singing evergreen songs at these meetings.

Besides, Khalid liked to spend time with the Mehfil orchestra in Fort Kochi. He was often accompanied by his friends who enjoyed singing old songs and reminiscing the old times. Like every amazing artist, Khalid too had wished to die while performing. His daughter Rahmath says that Khalid had always told them about his wish. It truly must be fate that a great artist like Khalid had died exactly like he had wished.

Artist at ten

Kochi: Khalid began his acting career, replacing an actor in a play, when he was just 16 years old. Interestingly, he bagged the award for best comic actor for that play. He then became an indispensable part of the drama performances that were held at Fort Kochi Santacruz ground. Whenever Khalid visited his uncle’s house in Alappuzha, his favourite hangout spot was outside the gate of the renowned Udaya Studio. However, his aim was to enter those gates. One day, senior actor Thoppil Bhasi came to the studio in his car. He had known Khalid from his old days in the theatre. Seeing Khalid outside the gate, Bhasi took him inside. Bhasi had come for the shooting of ‘Enippadikal’. Khalid too got a chance to act in that movie.

Khalid debuted in a movie, as a ten-year-old, playing the role of actor Muthaiah’s son. Meanwhile, he learned rock n roll dance from an Anglo-Indian family in the neighbourhood. Khalid’s elder brother and other family members were worried whether he would ruin his future by embracing art. They tried to ‘pack’ him to the Gulf. However, Khalid refused to go as he was enjoying his acting stints and other performances. But, later, he flew to Saudi Arabia hoping that his skills in magic would come in handy. Even though he had a regular job, Khalid found time to perform magic and other art forms at events. It was only years later that he had returned from the Gulf.

V P Khalid

Cinema family

“There wouldn’t be another home in Kochi where you could find these many cinema artists. I am happy and proud of it. I will be the luckiest man even if I die today,” Khalid had once said in an interview. It was his eldest son Shaji, a cameraman, who brought his brothers too into the industry. Shaji did camera work at weddings and other events. He used to take his brothers to assist him. Later, he joined the Ryan studio; soon, his brother Shyju Khalid too joined there. It was only later that their younger brother Jimshi became a cinematographer.

Shaji was planning to make a movie along with his friends when he died in a tragic accident. Meanwhile, Shyju went on to become one of the most sought-after cinematographers in the industry, cranking the camera for blockbusters like ‘Traffic’, ‘Salt n Pepper’, ‘22 Female Kottayam’, ‘Maheshinte Prathikaram’, ‘Ee.Ma.Yau’ and ‘Kumbalangi Nights’. He also directed the short segment ‘Sethulekshmi’ in the anthology movie ‘5 Sundarikal’. Jimshi too turned to cinematography, following his brother’s footsteps. He made a mark for himself in movies like ‘Anuraga Karikkin Vellam’, ‘Allu Ramendran’, ‘Kappela’, ‘Love’ and ‘Thallumala’. Their brother Khalid Rahman is a noted director and script-writer. He is the director of ‘Anuraga Karikkin Vellam’, ‘Unda’, ‘Love’ and ‘Thallumala’.

Marimayam makeup artist

Khalid had reached the sets of super hit sitcom Marimayam that airs on Mazhavil Manorama as a makeup artist. He did that job for two days before director Unnikrishnan realised Khalid’s amazing background in acting. The director didn’t hesitate to entrust the veteran actor with small yet significant roles. His role got bigger as the audience loved Khalid’s performance. Interestingly, Khalid’s character was named ‘Sumesh’ by actor Salim Hassan who plays the role of Pyarijathan in the sitcom. As Sumesh became a hit Khalid got promoted to a regular in Marimayam, donning hundreds of characters, for almost nine years. The current director of the series Mithun Chettoor says that it was only a week ago that the crew had shot the portions involving Khalid’s character. They had to film a scene where Khalid was required to sit atop a wall. However, the crew decided to ditch the scene as they didn’t want to cause any discomfort for Khalid. But, the talented actor performed the scene with fabulous energy and spirit that would give any young actor a run for their money. The scene would be aired in the next episode of Marimayam. 

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