Innocent, veteran Malayalam actor and politician, dies aged 75

South Indian comedian appeared in more than 750 films in a career spanning five decades

Malayalam actor Innocent had been receiving treatment for Covid-19-related respiratory issues. Photo: Innocent / Facebook
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South Indian stars have paid tribute to veteran Malayalam actor and former politician Innocent, who has died at a private hospital in Kochi, Kerala.

Innocent, who had survived cancer, had been receiving treatment for Covid-19-related respiratory issues at the VPS Lakeshore Hospital since March 3, Indian media reported.

He suffered from multiple organ failure as well as a heart attack on Sunday night and died at 10.30pm, the hospital said. He was 75.

"End of an iconic chapter in cinema history! Rest in peace Legend! #Innocent," actor Prithviraj Sukumaran posted on Twitter.

Actor Dulquer Salmaan called him "one of those timeless all time greats".

Innocent was considered one of the best comedians in Malayalam cinema. Photo: Innocent / Facebook

"We lost the brightest shining star in our constellation. You made us laugh till we cried. You made us cry till our insides hurt. You were an actor of the highest calibre. Beyond that you were all things wonderful. You were all heart," Salmaan posted on Instagram, along with a series of photos.

Born in Inrinjalakuda, Kerala, in 1948, Innocent Vareed Thekkethala, popularly known by only his first name, was regarded as one of best comedians in Malayalam cinema.

Starting his career in 1972 with the Malayalam film Nrithasala, he soon made a name for himself with his ability to imitate all kinds of voices. He would go on to appear in more than 750 films, predominantly in Malayalam, but also movies in other South Indian languages including Tamil and Kannada.

Politically active, he contested council elections as a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and won in the 1970s. In 2014, he was elected to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament, as an independent candidate.

He was also a voracious writer, having written five books, including Cancer Wardile Chiri (Laughter in the Cancer Ward) in 2017, which detailed his battle with throat cancer in his own inimitable style.

Innocent also produced a number of films in his career. As an actor, he was last seen in the 2022 Malayalam film Kaduva, which also starred Sukumaran.

His last film, Paachuvum Albhuthavilakkum, starring acclaimed actor Fahadh Faasil in the lead, is set to be released this year.

Updated: March 27, 2023, 7:39 AM