Bharath Gopi: An obituary

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 30, 2008 07:37 hrs

Bharat Gopi, the veteran National award winning actor died in a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram following cardiac problems. Gopi (71) is survived by wife, son and a daughter. He will be cremated with full state honours today (Wednesday Jan 30)

Gopi suffered a heart attack last week on location of Balachandra Menon's De Ingottu Nokkiye at Krishnapuram Palace near Kayamkulam last week and was admitted to a local hospital. Later, he was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram for specialised treatment. Born in 1937 at Chirayinkil, he had made his debut in a minor role in Adoor Gopalakrishnan' `Swayamvaram'(1972). Later he did the lead role in the director's next film `Kodiyettam' which earned him the Bharat award for best actor.

Gopi had been cast in successful roles by noted film-makers like G. Aravindan, Padmarajan, Bharathan and K.G. George. He had also done the role of a trade union leader in Govind Nihalani's Hindi film `Aghat.' After a paralytic stroke at the prime of his career, Gopi had to keep off the limelight for a few years before he made a comeback despite physical constraints.

The entire Malayalam film fraternity expressed grief at the loss. Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, Culture Minister M.A. Baby and other ministers condoled the death of the actor. He was also awarded the Padmasri. Recipient of several regional, national and international awards, the thespian wrote a book ''Abhinayam Anubhvam,'' which he got the national award for the best book on cinema.

Superstar Mammootty who came to know about Bharath Gopi's death while shooting for Annan Thambi in Pollachi told " Bharath Gopi is an institution by himself, he is an actor's actor. I got my first big break as a police officer in K.G George directed Yavanika, where I was investigating 'Tabla' Ayappan's death. Gopi chettan was simply brilliant as 'Tabla' Ayappan. Since then we were great friends. I would say he is one of the finest performers who understood the nuances of acting and characterization. My favourite film of his is Bharathan's Sandhya Mayungam Neram where he played the role of a Judge who had sentenced many people to their death, and later in the evening of his life remorse sets in. I would say he lived the role."

The noted internationally reputed director Adoor Gopalakrishnan who was the first to spot Gopi in Swayamvaram and later made him an actor of substance with Kodiyettam says: " He was an actor par excellence and could portray the feelings of the character he played realistically " Gopi had once remarked that he is a tool in the hands of his directors. Gopi in private always says that it was the late Bharathan who had exploited his acting skills the most with the variety of characters he offered to him.

Gopi's memorable films were Kodiyettam, Ormakkayi, Yavanika, Panchavadippalam, Aadaminte Vaariyell, Peruvazhiyambalam, Kallan Pavitran, Sandhya Mayangum Neram, Kaattaththe Kilikkooodu, Aaghat, Chidambaram and the recent Rasathantram in which he played Mohanlal's father. His last release will be 'De Ingottu Onnu Nokkiye,' directed by Balachandra Menon. Added Balachandra Menon: " Gopi chettan was the last of the great actors in Malayalam cinema like Sathyan, Kottarakara Sreedharan Nair, Balan.K.Nair and others. He could bring out the emotion and feelings of the character he does on his face without saying any dialogues"