"Maybe we are poor, coolies, trolley-pullers. But we are not beggars."
With teeth clenched and eyes that reflected anger, yesteryear Malayalam actor Jayan delivered this dialogue that was seared into the memory of every Malayali
A dialogue from the 1980 film Angadi, actor Jayan has immortalised this line, much like most of his films.
Thursday marks Jayan's 37th death anniversary, who was killed while shooting a helicopter stunt scene in 1980 when he was just 41 years old. He was at the peak of his career.
Widely known as Malayalam cinema's first action hero, he was killed while shooting a stunt scene for the film Kolilakkam. The actor, who has more than 120 films to his credit, has remained an evergreen actor since.
Mathrubhumi quotes Kalliyoor Shashi, production executive, as saying that the fatal scene wherein Jayan was shown trying to pursue and capture the villain played by Balan K Nair, who was trying to escape in a helicopter had already been shot three times.
It was Jayan who reportedly insisted on one more take, which ironically proved to be his last. Unlike the previous three shots, Jayan tried to entwine his leg on the helicopter skid from a moving motorbike, so as to enable him to climb up and get hold of the villain. Though Balan did try to dissuade Jayan from attempting such a risky move, the latter went ahead with the manoeuvre.
This however tilted all the weight to one side, making the helicopter lose its balance and crash onto the Sholavaram airstrip at Thiruvallur in Tamil Nadu. While the pilot and Balan fell out from the sides, Jayan, unfortunately, was not that lucky.
He was grievously injured in the fall, and though he was soon rushed to the hospital and subjected to emergency surgery, his life could not be saved.
(This article was originally published in 2016 and is being republished.)