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An Era Ends: Life and Times of Innocent, Actor-Politician & Master Storyteller

A villain, a supporting actor, a prolific comedian, writer, and politician, Innocent was a multi-faceted star.

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On Sunday, 26 March, veteran Malayalam actor and former MP Innocent passed away at 75 years of age, due to respiratory difficulties and cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife, Alice, and son, Sonnet.

Innocent was known not just as an actor but also as a master storyteller, whose anecdotes will now be missed.

In most interviews when he was asked why he was named Innocent, a unique name for his generation, he often said, with his mischievous infectious laughter ringing, "My father looked at me when I was born and felt, 'He'll get in trouble and perhaps end up in court.' He named me 'Innocent' so that the lawyer representing me could say, 'But, Your Honour, he is Innocent'."
A villain, a supporting actor, a prolific comedian, writer, and politician, Innocent was a multi-faceted star.

Innocent (middle) in Ramji Rao Speaking which was later remade into Hera Pheri.

In Hera Pheri Paresh Rawal played the role that was earlier played by Innocent.

(Image: Youtube)

For the most part of his film career, during which he had done several iconic roles, Innocent was also known for his accent – a unique Thrissur lilting tone that notched up his comedy.

In the 2000s, there was the comic triumvirate – Kuthiravattom Pappu, who was known for his North Kerala Kozhikode slang, Jagathy Sreekumar, who was known occasionally for his South Kerala Travancore slang, and Innocent, who was known for his Central Kerala Thrissur accent.

Of the trio, now, only Jagathy Sreekumar, who is ailing and been away from acting for years, survives.

As he aged, Innocent became a power Centre in Malayalam cinema. He was the long-serving President of Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), Mollywood's actors' guild. He later went on to become a Member of Parliament (MP) from Chalakudy after winning local body elections from his hometown Irinjalakuda. While he mostly served as an Independent candidate, his candidature was backed the Left Democratic Front (LDF). Even as an MP, he never gave up acting completely.

When he passed away at 75, Innocent has left behind a legacy of acting, management, and politics, laced with a tinge of humour and its share of controversies. Here's all you need to know about the actor's career.

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Villain, Supporting Actor, and Prolific Comedian

Known for his unique brand of humour, Innocent has appeared in over 700 films and has had a flourishing career spanning over four decades. He made a mark as one of the finest comedians in the Malayalam film industry while starring in films in other languages like Tamil, Kannada, and Hindi. Innocent made his debut as an actor in the 1972 film Nrithashala. However, Football Champion (1973) is the first film in which he mouthed dialogues for the role he played.

Some of Innocent's most appreciated roles are from blockbusters like Kilukkam (1991), Azhakiya Ravanan (1996), Ramji Rao Speaking (1989), Nadodikkattu (1987), Surya Daham (1979), and Devasuram (1993).
A villain, a supporting actor, a prolific comedian, writer, and politician, Innocent was a multi-faceted star.

Stills of Actor Innocent.

(Photo: Twitter)

Though he made a mark as a comedian, he also shined in villain and other supporting character roles too. Innocent featured in Keli (1991), Kathodu Kathoram (1985), the 1993 film Kabuliwala, Dr. Pasupathy (1990), and received the Kerala state government’s 'Best Actor' award for a supporting role in MazhavilKavadi (1989).

He also briefly donned the producer’s hat and bankrolled some critically acclaimed films, including Vida Parayum Munpe, which won the Kerala government's second-best film in 1981, and Oramakkayi, which won the Kerala government's second-best film in 1982. He also wrote stories for films like Pavam I.A. Ivachan and Keerthana, playing the lead in both.

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Fighting Cancer and a Controversy

Innocent was a cancer survivor who looked at life optimistically, even at the most disheartening times. He wrote lighthearted books about his illness. Innocent authored five books: 'Njan Innocent' (I am Innocent), 'Cancer Wardile Chiri' (Laughter in the Cancer Ward), 'Irinjalakudakku Chuttum' (memoirs), 'Mazha Kannadi' (a collection of short stories), and 'Chirrikku Pinnil' (an autobiography).

In 'Cancer Wardile Chiri' (Laughter in the Cancer Ward), he narrates his experiences while undergoing treatment for throat cancer. 'Irinjalakudakku Chuttum' won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Humour in 2020.

Innocent was also a former member of the Lok Sabha from 2014–19, winning the seat from Kerala's Chalakkudy constituency as an Independent candidate backed by the Left Democratic Front. During the early days of his political career, he won the Irinjalakuda municipal council elections as a Revolutionary Socialist Party-backed candidate in 1979.

He previously served as president of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) on and off between 2003 and 2018.

During his tenure as AMMA's president, Innocent was accused of supporting actor Dileep who was accused of orchestrating the kidnap and rape of a woman actor of the Malayalam film industry in 2017. Addressing a press conference in 2017 he had said, as reported by Malayala Manorama, "I spoke with Dileep yesterday and asked if there is any truth in the news we hear. He repeatedly claims that he is not part of the incident."

A section of actors and technicians found Innocent and other office bearers of AMMA of having brushed the woman's actor's allegations aside, to back Dileep.

Innocent, who retired from the president post in 2018, however, did later state that he supports the sexual assault survivor, though he would wait to see if Dileep was found guilty by a court of law.

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Topics:  Kerala   Malayalam Actor   Malayalam 

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