The quirky gesticulations, the fine balance between subtlety and hyperbole, and the inimitable one liners, delivered with soft precision. These are some of his trademarks. In the past many years of great cinema, Innocent has given us a wide range of memorable characters falling on a spectrum from funny desperation to evil foolishness. Here, we list a few…
Mathaichettan (Ramji Rao Speaking): “Mathaichettan undo?” asks Gopalakrishnan. “Illa undilla, entha unnana?” replies Mathiachettan. What better introduction can you give a character as quirky as his? He is the owner of Urvashi Theatres – a rundown theatre company that has seen better days. His home, besides serving as a storeroom for his old drama costumes and accessories, also shelters two unemployed chaps. Mathaichettan has a heart of gold that takes an instant shine to anyone who is willing to flatter him. He dreams of running his theatre to a full house. Part of the character’s charm lies, obviously, in Innocent’s brilliantly comic and well-timed rejoinders. For instance, the way he shyly shakes his head when Gopalakrishan elucidates his virtues and says, “Enikku thanney valarey ishtayi. Etha nadenna paranje?” Then, almost instantly changing gears and snapping at him with, “Cheruplasherikkaran enittey.”
Kittunni (Kilukkam): He is the overworked, harrowed, traumatised house help of Justice Pillai (Thilakan). They are always at loggerheads with each other—like the time when he cooks chicken curry for dinner and Pillai gets up and bows in reverence, suggesting that the chicken is older than him. And when Kittunni really gets a chance to walk out of the job, he showers the choicest of abuses at Pillai. But of course only to return too soon, utterly defeated.
Warrier (Devasuram): Warrier is Mangalasheri Neelakandan’s alter ego—the good-natured, calm karyasthan, who probably knows the young scion better than he knows himself. He is the only one who has the nerve to take Neelakandan to task for all his rouguish ways. Innocent completely takes you by surprise with the subtlety and dignity he brings to the act. The warmth they share is beautifully captured in that casual one-liner the older Neelakandan throws at Warrier years later in RavanaPrabhu— “Enthado warierey than nannavathey.”
Swaminathan (Godfather): It’s a character with all the Innocent staples—the coy slow-mo head swirl, that you-caught-me air and those riotous punchlines (“Neeyokkeyenthinadapadikkaney?”). But then our favourite is that scene where Swaminathan is laughing his head off over Bobanum Mollyyum comics when his brother informs him of the arrival of his wife and kids - his transformation in that moment is smashing.
Lineman KT Kurup(Mithunam): That annoying elder brother who somehow lands himself everywhere, albeit unintentionally to mess things up for Sethu (Mohanlal). Mostly out of work, Kurup squanders Sethu’s money, is an alcoholic and finds vicious pleasure in irking his equally pesky brother-in-law (Jagathy). Kurup’s stoic expression in the middle of that black magic Pooja later went on to become a favourite meme to denote ‘puchcham’. We think it comes somewhere between shantham and beebadsam.
Unnithan (Manichithrathazhu): Unnithan portrays his fear for ghosts so hilariously when he tries to shoo Sreedevi with his umbrella uttering— “Adutheykku vararuthu.” And then there is the other hysterical scene where his wife tries to tie a rakhsa over his waist and Unnithan, mistaking it for something more intimate, distressingly promises her— “Unnithan vakku paranja vakkannu.” Probably any other actor who would have turned that scene crass.
Panicker(PonmuttayidunnaThaaravu): The sly, greedy astrologer, who is as unscrupulous as he looks; he quickly pockets that 10 pavantey mala without blinking an eyelid. Innocent studiously brings in the hilarity and nastiness of the Panicker with his quirky mannerisms and dialogue delivery. That’s why, despite reserving all our sympathies for Thattan Baskaran, we still find it diffic
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