He was a man of many skins, who could play the funny man and the cruel villain with equal, consummate ease.
45-year-old Kalabhavan Mani’s death has come as a huge shock for his fans and the Malayalam film industry, many of his friends unable to even react to the tragedy.
Mammooty who has acted with Mani in many movies said the death was a big loss to him personally and to the film industry. "When I asked him why he was losing weight rapidly, he told me he was on a diet. I did not know his condition was not good. He was a friend, an actor, a phenomenal singer, whose demise is a great loss to the industry. This is all too sudden and I am in shock. To whom shuld I complain about this death?” Mammootty said.
Very early in his career, Kalabhavan Mani established himself as someone who could keep his audience in splits by his mere onscreen presence. His body language was such that just a mere contortion of his face or an exaggerated gesture was sure to elicit laughter. As an actor, he was equally at ease at slipping into character roles too, donning both the villainous and the underdog ones with consummate ease.
“He has acted in most number of movies with me. Recently when I saw him looking tired, I asked him what was wrong. But he just laughed it off. He was a genuine human being, a humble person who always talked about his humble beginnings. I did not even know that he was hospitalised," Jayaram.
Known as one who never shied away from voicing his political leanings, he was also the darling of the masses not just for his histrionic talents, but for his philanthropy too. He was almost deified in his native place for his rustic charm and down-to-earth attitude coupled with his generosity in heeding to the locals and their grievances. His daily durbars were famous for their people-connect and the prompt financial aid that was disbursed to address any pressing needs.
"This is a huge shock. I am not even able to speak. He will live on in our memory, I have some many unforgettable moments I shared with him. We had been working together for a long time on stage shows," said actor Suraj Venjaramoodu.
"I brought him to the film industry. He was a person who worked hard and reached. He climbed the ladder because of his talents. He was a great human being. He helped people around, offered help though he they may not have asked him for it," said director Sibi Malayil.
"Mani was an acceptable person for all kind of audiences. His demise will be a great loss to the industry," said director Kamal.
Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan also expressed his condolences. "Sad about my friend Kalabhavan Mani. One more of My Malayalee brothers dying of cirrhosis. He had more talent than time," Haasan posted on Twitter.
(The quotes as given to various media houses).