Innocent: An 'accidental' actor who rose to become a comedy star

The Thrissurian flavour laced with a native slang and his ability to go beyond the 'framework' of the written script made late star Innocent an instant hit with the Malayalee film buffs.
Innocent: An 'accidental' actor who rose to become a comedy star

Kochi | The Thrissurian flavour laced with a native slang and his ability to go beyond the 'framework' of the written script made late star Innocent an instant hit with the Malayalee film buffs.

His failure as a businessman was cinema's gain as the accidental career hop made him one of the most loved actors of Malayalam cinema. Veteran star Innocent, who died at a private hospital here late Sunday evening, was a versatile personality who enjoyed a special place in the hearts of Malayalees by generating a positive vibe through effortless humour with wit and mannerism.

Innocent (75) also made a deep impression as a TV presenter and conversationalist besides foraying into politics and even became a Member of Parliament.

Having never dreamt of becoming an actor, Innocent ended up in the tinsel world accidentally after failing in his earlier efforts to eke out a living as a businessman and small-time industrialist.

Although acting was his last option, he had a roaring success in that role, appearing in over 700 movies, mostly in comedy roles, in his five-decade long film career.

Beginning his film career in 1972 with the Malayalam movie "Nrithasala", his entry into the world of cinema was accidental while working in a different role for a film production company thay year, according to film scholar Balagopal Niruthampath.

Innocent got opportunities to act in movies while he was trying to eke out a living as a production assistant, he said.

He could assert his career as an actor through the roles he had got in movies directed by Mohan, an Irinjalakkuda native, from where Innocent hailed, Balagopal said.

"What made Innocent an instant success as an actor was his resourcefulness to rise above the frameworks set by the script," he told PTI.

His victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha constituency as a Left candidate from Chalakkudy, a traditional Congress-bastion, proved his popularity beyond the film world.

Innocent, who was known largely for his comedy roles, maintained his amiable persona as he did not antagonise his rival and other political opponents. He lost the 2019 elections to the Congress.

Born in Irinjalakuda in Thrissur district in 1948, Innocent ended his schooling at class 8.

According to K S Manu, a script writer, Innocent is the only actor who has explored the possibilities of language to reach the masses.

Speaking in typical Thrissurian flavour and his native Irinjalakkuda slang, he has made it through his intelligent Malayalam articulations, whether it is a gesture, expression, syntax or a sentence.

"His delivery and rendering of these articulations with ease, has created a cult in the popular culture, and hence his intimate association and identification with the masses and I think is the basis of his popularity and identity as a comedian.

"Innocent's dialogues really demand a semantic analysis to understand them. May be it could be word, phrase, or sound , but it had the power to revolt against the people in power, society, or any injustice that prevails. Thus his acting transcends above mere mannerisms", Manu told PTI.

Many popular films including Godfather, Vietnam Colony and Manichithrathazhu displayed his ability in handling comedy with ease.

His roles in movies like Mazhavil Kavadi and Devasuram proved that he could safely handle character roles also.

Innocent tried his luck at writing scripts and also sang a few songs in the films 'Mr Butler' and 'Sandram'.

He was also the president of Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) for 18 years from 2000.

He was diagnosed with cancer twice and yet always maintained a positive attitude towards life, a fact remembered by many in their condolence messages on social media.

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