The Bharat legend

via www.newindpress.com published on January 30, 2008

T’PURAM: He was the last Bharat of India; the actor who won the last award of that name for his first lead role.

And the Bharat (after that it was simply known as the Award for Best Performance) remained a permanent prefix to introduce Gopinathan Nair as Gopi whenever greasepaint profiled him on stage or screen.

He was the bald and the beautiful of tinseldom where he reigned, speaking a different lingo and body language; the latter seldom differing between real and reel.

Each character was an essay; a unique text in acting: Different souls that trod the filmspace in the same frame. They were never clones but each the epitome of originality distinctly sketched with bold strokes of genius.

From the first cameo which challenged Madhu in Swayamvaram in 1972 to Sankarankutty who brought the national award to Kerala thru Kodiyettam in 1977 to the unfinished portrait in the ongoing Balachandra Menon project De Ingottu Nokkiye each Gopi Kerala saw on screen was a new person. And the same can be said of his real life too.

And that’s why Kerala raised its eyebrows whenever Gopi played different roles in real life; his decision to walk into the right wing BJP camp being one of them.

But Gopi had his own convictions; each incident for him wrote a new philosophy of life. That is why he openly admitted that his paralytic stroke gave him the opportunity to distinguish between friend and foe.

“It was the one I thought of as my enemy that first rushed in with help,” he once told former bureaucrat T N Jayachandran as they discussed life’s lessons. In the course of that interview, he also shared a regret: “I should’ve been born in any part of the world except India.”

Once the sad requiem fades, we need to find an answer to this one regret of a legend lest it haunts this land as a curse for withholding what was due to a world class actor who helped many a director leave his footprint on the global theatre.

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