Equally gifted in dancing and singing, popular Malayalam actor Kalabhavan Mani could make his audience laugh and cry and did that for almost a quarter of century before his art was untimely stilled as he passed away at a private hospital here on Sunday. He was 45.
Mani burst into the Malayalam film industry in 1993 by first mimicking practically every film star the industry has seen as part of famous mimicry troupe Kalabhavan - which earned him his prefix. He was however first noticed in the film "Sallapam" in 1996 and after that, through his characteristic laugh and dialogue delivery style, never had to look back and went on to act in Tamil and Telegu films.
A naturally gifted artiste, Mani proved his mettle in the film "Vasantiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum" where he played the title role of a blind man which took him to even greater heights and won him the special jury award at the national and the state level in 2000.
For the past few years, he was a busy actor in the Tamil films and was mostly seen playing villain roles and also doing more of character roles in the Malayalam industry.
Apart from acting in around 200 films, he sang in about 25 films and whenever he was called for a programme, was known for voluntarily singing ballads, which made him hugely popular.
He is survived by his wife and a daughter.
His admission to a private hospital two days back was kept a secret and it was only on Sunday that even the special branch came to know that he was unwell. He was reported to be suffering from liver and kidney - related ailments and was undergoing treatments on and off.
People from all walks of life are coming in large numbers to the hospital where his body is kept.
Mani also had his share of getting into the news for the wrong reason, mostly for his rough and tough behaviour which included alleged assaults of forest officials and customs officials at the Kochi airport.
With assembly elections round the corner, there were reports that the Communist Party of India - Marxist would field him from an assembly constituency from his home district Thrissur.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy condoled the sudden unexpected demise and said that Mani will live through his ballads and the numerous characters he played, while his predecessor and veteran Left leader V. S. Achuthanandan said that Mani excelled playing characters projecting the trials and tribulations of the weaker sections of the society.
"He was always bold enough to say that he was a very strong Left sympathiser and his untimely loss is a huge loss to the film industry, " he said.
Police have decided to conduct an autopsy at the Thrissur Medical College hospital on Monday, after reports have surfaced about presence of some chemicals in the actor's body.