|One of Malayalam cinema's greatest ever actors V. Gopinathan Nair, popularly known as Bharath Gopi, was born on 8 November 1937 at Chirayinkeezhu near Varkala as the youngest of four children to Kochuveetil Velayudhan Pillai and Parvathyamma. He along with some of his contemporaries in film industry is closely associated to the New Wave cinema movement in Kerala. With his inimitable talent he breathed life into numerous characters which brought to Malayalam cinema a new kind of robustness and vibrancy.
Gopi started his career as a theater actor at Prasadhana Little Theatres under G. Sankara Pillai. His first stage appearance was in the role of Raaghavan in the play Abhayarthikal. He developed his potentials with his associations and interactions with theater legends like C.N. Sreekantan Nair and Kavalam Narayana Panicker, who though belonging to different schools tried to fashion a contemporary indigenous theater in Malayalam. He has also written five plays and directed three.
It was Adoor Gopalakrishnan, the renowned Malayalam film maker who introduced Gopi into silver screen. Adoor's Swayamvaram which came out in the year 1972 was his debut film. Adoor’s next film Kodiyettam, in which Gopi appeared in the character of Sankarankutty won him the national award for best actor of the year. His unique and down-to-earth performances in films like Palangal (1981), Yavanika (1982), Kattathe Kilikoodu (1983), Panchavadippalam (1984), Chidambaram (1985), Ormakalundayirikkanam (1995) created a niche for Gopi in Malayalam cinema. With his fascinating acting style he enticed almost all the best directors of the period like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Aravindan, K G George, Bharathan, and P. Padmarajan in Malayalam as well as Mani Kaul (Satah se Uthata Aadmi (1980)) and Govind Nihalani (Aaghat (1984)) in Hindi.
Besides he has ventured his talents in filmmaking which found fruition in works like Ulsavapittennu (1989) and Yamanam (1991). Yamanam, which is about a physically handicapped person, was adjudged Best Film on social issues by the National Award Jury in 1991. Gopi penned two books Abhinayam Anubhavam and Nataka Niyogam. Abhinayam Anubhavam (Acting, Experience), won the national award for the best book on cinema in 1994. Nataka Niyogam, his book on drama won the state award for best book on drama in 2003.
An untimely stroke that struck him in the year 1986 shattered his career which was at its zenith. Government of India honored this genius with Padma Shri in the year 1991 for his contributions to Indian cinema. He passed away on January 29, 2008.