Kochi, March 27: Loved and adored by one and all, the radiant and innocent smile of one of Kerala's most popular film actors Innocent, will now be immortalised through the more than 700 films that he acted in a career that spanned over 50 years.
Seventy-five year-old Innocent, who won millions of hearts with his comedic style, was never tied down due to his deficiencies. He often took pride in his educational career, which got over in Class 8 and every time he spoke about it, ripples of laughter ran through the crowd.
He often said it was because of his brief stint as a student, that he was able to win the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from his home constituency Chalakudy in Thrissur district trouncing veteran Congress law-maker P.C.Chacko.
Soon after winning the elections, he was felicitated at a school in his hometown-Irinjalakuda. "If you want to become an MP or MLA, you should study in the same class for at least a few years. I owe my victory to the half a dozen schools where I studied and sat in every class for two or three years and hence all my classmates voted for me, as they know me very well," he said, evoking laughter among the students.
Another memorable speech that always made the audience laugh out loud was his hilarious account of how the then Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan liked him a lot, while that was not the case with M.B.Rajesh (the present Kerala State Minister for Local Self Govt).
"She was extremely fond of me as I never uttered a word in the House because I had no clue of what to speak as I did not know Hindi, while Rajesh used to speak a lot," he would say.
However, in 2019, he could not repeat the winning formula and lost to Congress leader Benny Behanan.
Even the diagnosis of cancer in 2014 could not dampen his spirit and he fought the disease bravely only to return to his passion --acting for sometine. Though he had a relapse, he out-lived that too and returned to acting in 2020.
The role that he found more challenging than his stint as an MP was being the president of the Association of Malayalam Movies (AMMA) for an uninterrupted term of 18 years. Handling actors and actresses (known for their massive egoes) was never but he his amazing sense of humour always came to his rescue. "I had the knack of lacing the most serious and at times not-so-pleasant decisions with humour, which many a times saved the situation from turing ugly and explosive," he would say.
That he was so much loved and adored by his colleagues was established by the tearful farewell by his colleagues at an Indoor stadium where his body has been kept.
Big and small stars are all making a bee line to bid goodbye to perhaps the most- loved actor.
While superstar Mammootty was at the hospital, the whole of Sunday on hearing that Innocent was sinking, Mohanlal, presently shooting in Rajasthan, is scheduled to arrive later in the day to bid him goodbye.
He often used to say he was never ever born with a silver spoon, but started his film career with a remuneration of a mere Rs 15 at the then Madras, which was the capital city of Malayalam cinema and there were times he felt he might not make it and one occasion returned back, but only to go back again.
But his perseverance paid off and at times he used to say that in those hard times, when he used to see actor Sukumaran (father of popular star Prithviraj and Indrajeeth) arrive on an ambassador car, will he also own one.
Ever since the tragic news of his passing broke out late Sunday night, all roads in Kerala now lead to Kochi and then to Irinjalakuda, where the funeral will be held on Tuesday at his family Church.
Condolences have also started to pour in and practically every political leader who matters in Kerala have either sent their condolences or personally paid tributes to him with their presence.
The very fact that several have shared their loving actor's picture on their status in mobile phones reflects how Innocent had made a place in the people's hearts through his impeccable acting skill and a radiant smile.
(IANS | Posted on 27 March 2023, 1695524629 44O192O254O173)