Nandan, is a six feet tall youngster who works as an assistant with art director Gokuldas. He has been there on my sets since Classmates. Those days prior to our introduction I considered him as just another fellow who runs errands; anybody who is familiar with the working style of film locations would know, there are about a dozen or more of these young chaps who are assistants in different departments, ranging from direction, cinematography, art, costume and make up. During the planning, preparation and rehearsal of a shot they have to be very observant, understand the needs of the situation and act impromptu.
One day when I could not spot Gokul to tell something urgent, Nandan volunteered. Natural to his ways he smiled when he came near. I still can’t figure out my feeling on seeing his smile for the first time…! He does not have two front teeth on the upper gum! This young man of 27 became a mystery to my concepts of `looking handsome’…! Considering his lost teeth may trouble his future, I gave an offer to replace them. He came out with a brighter smile, “sir, the elephant has only two teeth, but I don’t think the animal worries about it!” Now that is a revelation for people like me who are perpetually concerned about hair fall and gray hair!! And sure, Nandan is gifted with such fierce positive energy…. You must see him on the sets!
I did not realize Nandan’s ambition to be an actor till he did a tiny role in a song sequence in Mulla. His role in Neelathamara is nothing but the evidence of our affection; M.T has only written about a manual labourer who carries bags of the lead character in one scene. Nandan was very willing, and because he did that role we started including his character in other scenes at the same location. By and by he became a permanent presence at the premises of the tharavadu and is known by a pet name in the location- `Pengan’! Just like any other character in Neelathamara Nandan now has a claim to fame of being a character in an `M.T film’! And we are sure that he is boasting about it!!
Some time back he was working on a set with Gokul. They had chosen the location to be the premises of an aristocratic Nair home. While on shoot it rained. On reflux he jumped in to the verandah of the house. He was greeted by a sudden, jerking question from an inmate at the entrance “What’s your name (indirectly probing into the cast of the entrant). Without a wink our hero answered in a similar valluvanadan tune(!) “Nandan Menon”!! Hardly anyone in the set including his colleagues know Nandan Chalissery’s original name is Dhanush!!! Fondly we all call him `Nandan Menon’….
Nandan lost his teeth about six years back in an accident; the mishap turned into a boon with his extraordinary thought of making it a compliment to his appearance! Mostly I sense the presence of Nandan in the set from far… The location would be energized with the humor- filled, positive throb that he pumps in! Dull moments are wiped off by Nandan’s straight, harmless comments! Here is wishing him the best roles and recognition for all times….