Malayalam actor Innocent

Remembering Actor Innocent as someone from today’s generation

A piece of news that left the heart heavy for not only the older generation but also the current generation-that was what the death of Malayalam actor Innocent looked like. He died on March 26th leaving almost three generations of people longing to see him one more time.

Speaking for my generation, I can say he was one of the first few faces that made us laugh out loud. He was one of those few faces that got us excited. He was also one of those few faces that we eagerly waited for. If not bursts of laughter, he sure did promise a smile on our faces. Such was our relation with Innocent- an actor from the last of his legacy.

Also Read: Malayalam movies of the 80s and 90s that can’t be missed

In the times when the phone meant a landline and we found refuge in TV for entertainment, it was people like Innocent that made watching TV a fun time.

My fondest memory of Innocent as a kid from a Malayali household would be from Ramji Rao Speaking where he plays Mannar Mathai, the owner of “Urvashi Theatres” which has not run a play in a long time. Yes, a film from 1989 that made a late 90s kid laugh like anything. His humor, just like his name, is straight-out innocent. He wins us over right from the introduction scene, where he is flattered by all the buttering that Saikumar’s Balakrishnan does. And the cult classic “mundu” scene requires no mention. If not for Innocent’s spot-on comic timing and body language, that scene would have remained a farce.

Now coming to the best part- Mr. Ponnikara from Kalyanaraman. I would like to believe that many of us still rewatch the film, or at least the clips just to watch Innocent’s cult classic character Mr. Ponnikara, a pretentious wrestler with the heart of a child. The character has a fan following of its own. If you don’t use Ponikkara references in your day-to-day conversations, then I’m sorry to say that you might not be a true Malayali. Many including me dreamed of a spin-off for Mr. Ponikkara. I guess some dreams do not come true.

The very thought of his irreplaceable comic scenes from Malayalam films like Manichitrathazhu, Mithunam, Kilukkam, etc. brings a smile to my face. There are never going to be legendary performances like those ever again.

And then, growing up a little more, we started to see that he not only makes us laugh but also stuns us with some amazing critical performances. Ravanaprabhu, Vinodayathra, and Katha Thudarunnu would be a few mainstream movies to mention where Innocent played some really impactful characters that made us think, cry and laugh simultaneously.

Growing up even more, we hardly saw enough of him. But that honestly did not disappoint me, because those memories from childhood were still afresh. He made me laugh then, he makes me laugh still, such is Innocent’s legacy.

innocent and Jayaram in manasinakkare
Innocent and Jayaram in Manasinakkare

I don’t think I can see that scene from Satyan Anthikad’s 2003 Malayalam movie Manasinakkare without feeling a lump in my throat. (Watch the scene here)

Why does his death feel so personal? Because we saw a bit of our childhood in him, and with the news of his death, it feels like we maybe lost a bit of ourselves.

To the man who filled our childhood with laughter, who showed us what honest humor looks like, rest in peace.

Image Courtesy: YouTube

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