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Game for any role

At home in any role, villain, comedian or character actor, Innocent says that acting is easier than producing films

Photo:Vipin Chandran

Inimitable style Innocent and Dileep on the set of Calcutta News

There he is, sitting amidst a bevy of girls, chatting and enjoying every minute of it. One look at Innocent and many faces suppress a smile. They smile for no reason, for he has cracked no joke, but yes, there is a huge reason in that he has made eve ry comic character he has taken on linger in the audience’ hearts. Comedian, villain, character actor and union activist, Innocent is not quite what his name sounds!

Innocent, in formal wear, is ready for his next shot for the movie, “Calcutta News”. He seems to have shed a couple of years with jet black hair, moustache and smart formals. He plays the secretary of the Kolkata Malayalee Association. “You know, the kind of person who is permanently the secretary,” he explains. These days, he is a busy man with a role in “Nasrani”, where he plays a Christian priest among others. While he has played the father of the hero in several films, he has also played the sidekick as well as serious character roles as in “Kochu kochu Santhoshangal”, and the unforgettable Warrier in “Dewasuram” and its sequel, “Ravana Prabhu”. Equally unforgettable is the comic role he played in “Ramji Rao Speaking”. The lottery fiasco in “Kilukkam” is fresh in everyone’s minds, thanks to TV. Then there are also villainous roles that he assays convincingly lik in “Keli”.

Ask him if he prefers serious or comic roles and Innocent comments: “I really cannot say. You see, the body is very important for an actor. It decides which roles he can essay. Given that, I cannot say I want to play the role of Pazhassi Raja, can I? I don’t harbour those kinds of ambitions,” and he laughs. But presenting serious things through comedy is something that he likes. “I had teachers who used to teach us many things in a light hearted way and that has stuck in my memory. Likewise I try to din in some good things into people through comedy”.

He was a producer for some time, but not any more. His productions included the well made “Vida Parayum Munpe”. “I made five movies, but that experience taught me how a film has to be made. No more production for me. I stopped that 23 years ago. When you can make money by acting, with no hassles, I don’t see why I should try production again,” Innocent firmly declares.

Besides, acting has always been his first love. He began his acting career 33 years ago as a journalist in the Prem Nazir starrer, “Nritya Sala”. He had just two scenes in it. He had earlier done some acting on stage. He was for some time seen often on the small screen, when the story of his life was telecast for some weeks.

This one time producer has been the president of AMMA, the union of actors for many years. Having experienced the problems faced by a producer, he can well empathise with both sides, he feels, though primarily, he speaks on behalf of the actors. “Personally, I try as far as possible not to make life miserable for my producer, but when I am discussing business with producers, naturally, I am on the side of actors,” he adds.

The grandpa of two-year-old twins, Innocent is raring to do more on the big screen.

PREMA MANMADHAN

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