It has been a terrible year so far for the Malayalam film industry. Death has been stalking leading actors and technicians. The latest in a series of those dying this year from the Malayalam film industry is Kalabhavan Mani, who passed away on Sunday evening due to liver problems.
Traces of Methyl alcohol was found in Mani’s body and an autopsy was done today morning by a special team of doctors at the Thrissur Medical College, 30 kilometres from Mani’s home town Chalakudy.
The report is pending but the outhouse near Mani’s house in Chalakudy where he was found “in a serious condition” prior to being hospitalised has been sealed by the Kerala Police. The last rites are to be carried out at Mani house in Chalakudy on Monday evening.
Mani (45) was a popular actor who has done hero and character roles in nearly 200 Malayalam films. Mani was born in a very poor family, and started life as a autorikshaw driver. He used to mimic then popular Malayalam actors and caught the attention of Siddique (later went on to become a hit director in Malayalam, also directed Salman Khan’s Bodyguard) who was at that time a student of Kalabhavan a mimicry group.
Mani later did a small role in Aksharam (1995), which never released, but got a big break playing a toddy tapper in Sallapam, which was written by a close friend and neighbour Lohitadas, who later became a top writer and director. Mani won the special jury award at the 2000 National film awards for his role as a visually challenged person in Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum.
Mani was also a popular singer who specialised in 'Nadan Pattu' (local folk songs) and an Ayappa devotee, who made religious songs, which had record sales during Sabarimala season. As a stage performer he was an all rounder who could do a one-man show on stage. Mani has played some notable characters in big Tamil films like Anniyan and Rajinikanth’s Enthiran and the recent Kamal Haasan starrer Papanasam.
Sad about my friend Kalabhavanam Mani. One more of My Malayalee brothers dying of cirrhosis. He had more talent than time.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) March 7, 2016
Mani was a very popular man in his home town Chalakudy and went out of his way to help the poor and needy. At times he did feel that he was not given his due in the Malayalam film industry. One time he lost out on the Kerala state best actor award to another actor, which made him sad and in an emotional outburst he said he was always discriminated. Mani was forthright in his views and was close to the CPM in Kerala. The buzz was that Mani would have gotten a ticket from the party to contest in the coming Kerala assembly elections.
Meanwhile it's been a very sad year with the deaths of many actors and crew members from the Malayalam film industry. Kalabhavan Mani, Kalpana, director Rajesh Pillai , story writer Akbar Kakatil, lyricist ONV Kurup, music director and singer – Shaan Johnson, background score specialist Rajamani, cameraman Anandakuttan, to name few.