Mammootty recalls Kalabhavan Mani’s Tamil debut in a moving tribute

While the entire film industry is utterly shocked about the sudden demise of Kalabhavan Mani, veteran actor Mammotty has penned a touching tribute on the actor. Kalabhavan Mani, who was last seen in Papanasam in Tamil, passed away yesterday at a private hospital in Kochi. According to few hospital sources, traces of methanol were found in his body and police has filed a case on unnaturald death. Kalabhavan Mani, 45, has been suffering from liver and kidney related diseases for the past few months.

“I am yet to come to terms with the painful fact that Mani will no longer drive to my house with baskets of mangosteen fruits and saplings. I was busy with shooting in Bengaluru when television channels began to scroll the news of Mani’s death. Death has taken away someone so close to me this time. Someone who was like a brother to me. How do I console myself? Mani was a younger brother who would come to me with a bowed head and teary eyes if he erred in some way. He considered my house as his too.

Mani treated me as an elder brother. He would instinctively try to cover the cigarette he was smoking the moment he spotted me. He loved without reservations. When I was shooting for a Tamil film called Marumalarchi at Tiruvannamala, a comedian called up to say he could not come to work as promised. Itold the director about Kalabhavan Mani. I told them they could call him but asked for an assurance that he would not be sent I asked for that assurance because it would be painful to send back such atalented actor. They gave me that assurance and called Mani. He, however, told them that he did not know Tamil. I called up Mani and told him, abit angrily I suppose, that this was a good opportunity. He immediately agreed to be there the next morning. That was his beginning in Tamil. He went on to become an actor in great demand. 

If my shooting locations were somewhere near Chalakkudy, Mani and company would land up there with chicken, mutton and other supplies. They would have a cookwith them. Mani himself was a great cook. He would cook all that I loved. He loved to see me relish the food. He
Whenever I heard of one of Mani’s pranks, I would call him up. “It won’t happen again,” he would say sheepishly and silently listen to me.
We used to call him Karl Lewis in the initial days of his career. His physique was so strong. 

Mani gave a fresh lease of life to folk songs in Malayalam cinema and film songs. He collected hundreds of folk songs. He got them into writing. He formed a group of folk musicians. Mani should have formed a big band in fact. I have seen thousands of people dancing to Manis rhythm even in the Gulf countries, including people who did not know Malayalam. Mani’s rhythm, body language and presentation transcended languages,” wrote Mammootty. 


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