It has been 23 years since actor Innocent played Yashwant Sahay — a goofy, overbearing politician who spoke a strange kind of Hindi — in the Malayalam film Sandesham.
It was a brief but popular cameo by the actor who has since played more politicians on screen, all with consistent comic brilliance. But as he makes a start in Parliamentary politics as a Left-backed Independent candidate from Chalakudy, Innocent knows this is serious business.
Critics say he doesn’t have credentials to take on a leader like P C Chacko, the Congress candidate in the constituency. So far, Innocent has tried to keep it simple, even when faced with questions on his political background: “My father was a Communist,” he had said in response to one of those questions. He also says his Hindi is functional enough to keep him going in Delhi if he wins the election. At his campaign venues, the turnouts are impressive. The CPM that’s backing the actor in this Congress stronghold believes he has connected with the people, especially women.
“He has no starry airs… he’s fresh, has no ambitions for power and is seen by the people as one of them. This lack of political experience should work as an advantage for him,” said Davis, a party supporter in Ollur near here. Innocent had started out in the industry by producing films before striking rich as a comedian and later, as a character actor.
He has acted in Priyadarshan’s Tamil and Hindi films including Maalamaal Weekly. Innocent also won hearts when he recently fought cancer and survived it while keeping his famed sense of humour intact. The actor has been adding personal touches to the campaign, refraining from attacks on opponents and urging voters to back him only if they find him worthy.
Though the LDF has launched a massive poll campaign, the actor has kept political talk minimal. “There’s no need for him to talk like a politician either. He’s our candidate but also has his own stature and popularity,” said Sreedharan, the LDF’s election convenor in Chalakudy.