Actor Innocent: An Inspiring Life of Resilience & Creativity

Actor Innocent (Innocent Vareed Thekkethala) was born on February 28, 1948 to Vareed Thekkethala and Margaret in Irinjalakuda, Thrissur. He was the fifth child and third son of his parents, who had eight children.

Innocent's personal life was marked by hardship after he dropped out of school while studying in eighth standard. He moved to Chennai for an opportunity to work in films. Though he worked as a production executive in a few movies and did some minor roles, things didn't shape up well for him.

He even tried his hands in different businesses like match box making, leather and cycle renting, but it all failed. However, his passion to become a performing artist remained strong.

Despite these challenges, he found success in the entertainment industry as an actor and carved a niche for himself with unique mannerisms and diction. He acted in over 500 films and emerged as the most respected actor of the period. He held the post of president of Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) for 12 years.

His roles in the movies like Ramji Rao Speaking, Mannar Mathai Speaking, Kilukkam, Godfather, Vietnam Colony, Nadodikattu, Devaasuram, Kabooliwaala, Mithunam, Mazhavilkavadi, Manassinakkare, Ponn Muttayidunna Tharavu, My Dear Muthachchan, Godfather and Manichitrathazhu won the hearts of the people.

He was a strong advocate and supporter of Left parties. He began his political career with RSP and won a Municipal Council election in 1979. He won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency in Thrissur district as an independent candidate of the LDF. However, he lost the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to UDF candidate Benny Behanan.

In 2013, he was diagnosed with Cancer. But bravely fought it and came out strong. But he suffered a relapse of the disease again in 2015. This time too, he fought the disease. As a cancer survivor, he took up different campaigns to instill positivity and confidence in cancer patients.

He authored five books: Njan Innocent, Cancer Wardile Chiri, Irinjalakudakku Chuttum (memoirs), Mazha Kannadi (collection of short stories) and Chirrikku Pinnil (autobiography). The book Cancer Wardile Chiri (Laughter in the Cancer Ward) is an account of his experiences while undergoing treatment for throat cancer in 2013.

Kerala Government also included excerpts of his memoir "Cancer Wardile Chiri" in a school textbook. A portion of this book was included in the Malayalam textbook for fifth standard of the Kerala state syllabus. The memoir with humourous undertones narrates how he bravely fought cancer and survived it without losing confidence and remaining positive.

It's for sure that his death is an irreparable loss to the Malayalam film industry. Innocent will continue to remain a beloved figure to millions of Malayalees around the world and his legacy to inspire artists.