When I was in the 7th grade, a new Malayalam teacher came to the school – Narayanan Mash. Innocent was mischievous as usual in his class too. The children laughed. Mash called closer with the cane. When Mash was about to strike, Mash threw the cane and put his hand on Innocent’s shoulder and said, ‘Innocent, it is not right for me to beat you. Hitting adults is said to be a sin. Did you go to any film…’
Mash said it sarcastically, but Innocent was happy to hear the secret desire of his heart from someone else.
He first told his father that he wanted to become an actor. The father was very happy. The father tried to get his son to participate in school plays. Mohan and Innocent, who later became famous as film directors, were classmates at Iringalakuda Boys’ High School. The dancer who was at Iringalakuda at the time acted Innocent Nero as Emperor and Mohan as Pilatus in Paramashiva’s historical plays. Dad saw him and clapped his hands. When he goes to the Communist Party meeting at night, the father takes Innocent with him. After the meeting, there is a KPAC play.
On his way back from Sivakasi for the purpose of the game company, Innocent once reached Madras and met the love of the film there. Innocent also shot at Uma Lodge, a regular base for filmmakers in Kodambakkam. The rent is thirty rupees a month. Actor Vincent, singer Ayirur Sadashivan, friend Mohan who is studying directing, theater actor George Mathassery, Thodupuzha Radhakrishnan and many other Malayalees in the next rooms.
Those were the days of absolute starvation. All it took was a Terylene shirt and a double turban to keep him looking tidy. It will be four to five kilometers from Liberty to Ashoka Nagar. If you have 15 paise, you can board the bus. No money That’s the way. It was during that walk that Dafydd met Kachapilly.
Innocent made his screen debut in ‘Nrithasala’ directed by AB Raj and released on September 9, 1972. Annu Mohan is the co-director of AB Raj. Innocent was working as an assistant to the production manager hoping to get a chance to act. Produced by Sobhana Parameswaran Nair, the film featured Premnaseer, Jayabharathi and Adoorbhasi as the lead stars. He then got a few small roles in films like ‘Urvasibharati’, ‘Jesus’ and ‘Nell’. In ‘Jesus’, he played the bearded old Rajaguru. KP Ummer as King Herod, Salomi as a Durbar Hall dancer, Jayalalithaa, the later Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu! He was paid fifteen rupees for acting in Jesus.
He got an opportunity to act in Ramukaryat’s film ‘Nell’ on the recommendation of Sobhana Parameswaran Nair. The shooting was in Tirunelli. 1,500 as reward. After wandering around for a while, I got baby roles in some movies. Some passing shots from the de- dod and the servant. Still, the film actor went home after many months. Appan asked: ‘Is it just Innasan tea and coffee in the film? Or is this your job there? If it is not fulfilled, do not come here and starve.’
Sad to realize that the servant roles he played in the film brought shame to his sister and his college relatives, Innocent returned to Madras. But again the roles are the same. In 1978, the world started to know the actor named Innocent with the role of a Peon in the film ‘Randu Nagarishkal’ directed by Mohan. Still not green.
In 1985, Century Films owner Kochumon called when all the art programs in Madras collapsed and he was packing to return home. Acted in two scenes in a film directed by Sehumadhavan. ‘Avidudut Kalole Here’ is Mammootty and Mohanlal’s film. Innocent recalled that although the film was a financial failure, many people said that he could act after watching the film. Later, Innocent came to know that scriptwriter John Paul and Mammootty were the reason he played that role. It was his closeness to the actor Srinivasan that led to Priyadarshan and thus to the film ‘Punnram Chollichholli’. In 1989, he won the state award for the second best actor for his performance in the film ‘Mazhavilkavadi’. ‘Ramji Rao Speaking’, released in the same year, changed the title. And there was no looking back.
In 1973, Innocent acted in three films. The mid eighties had a handful of films. After 1980, there were fewer years when Innocent did not act.
Many characters like Mannar Mathai in Ramjirao Speaking, Kannas in Kabuliwala, Kittunni in Kilukum, Warrior in Devasuram, Swaminathan in Godfather and many others became memorable in Innocent. Comedy and character actor roles as well as villain roles suited his talent. In his autobiographical book ‘Chiriku Pinil’ about the release of the film ‘Ramji Rao Speaking’, Innocent wrote:
Me, Alice and Mon also went to the cinema in Thrissur. People are laughing out of their seats watching the film. Amidst the waves of laughter, there was only one person who wasn’t laughing – me. Instead of laughing, tears flowed from my eyes. That is why, O God, I wandered for so long, starving, ridiculed, hiding without clothes, and having reached the edge of madness… Then I sat in that darkness, amidst laughter and laughter, and weeping. But during the celebration, no one saw.
English Summary: Remembering Innocent