Actor, candidate Innocent's tryst with Davangere

Actor, candidate Innocent's tryst with Davangere

Actor Innocent needs no introduction in Malayalam cinema. The accomplished comedian artiste has now taken a political plunge by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) supported candidature at Chalakudi Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala.

Innocent has done multiple roles in real life to eke out a living before reaching stardom; that of a stationery owner, whole-sale sandal distributor, cement supplier and coach cum manager of a volleyball team (a coach who did not watched the game even once).

At that struggling time, the now octogenarian actor had an unforgettable tryst with Karnataka, as the proprietor of a match-box manufacturing factory in Davangere.

In his autobiography, ‘Chiriku pinnil’ (Behind laughter), edited by Journalist Srikant Kottakal, Innocent had a detailed account of his life in Davangere during the emergency years, which also unravels the evil practice of human bondage system which was prevalent then.

During his maiden journey to Davangere from Bangalore in a train, Innocent had been shivering due to typhoid and it was a prostitute, the fellow-passenger came in help to safely reach him the destination.

Later Innocent became the proprietor of the factory, ‘Shabannur match factory’ and had to encounter a host of issues in running the factory which was already sinking. Once, to get rid of the central customs officials who demanded bribe for sealing each match-box bundle, Innocent stole one customs seal. Not only he put the seal for his match-box but did it for other manufacturer’s also in return of money.

Story of Mylappa

Mylappa was one of the labourers in Innocent’s factory and the villager shared an intimacy with his boss. Mylappa and his wife, Neelavva were among those who were bought by the powerful landlord Gowda from neighbouring villages to toil in their fields. Mylappa once happened to see his landlord sexually exploiting his wife.

Mylappa questioned the then common form of the feudal practice and soon he disappeared from Shabannur. After a few weeks, Innocent met his worker in a secluded place, pleading that Neelavva was innocent and once he completed the words, Mylappa collapsed to death for he had consumed poison.

Later as an actor, Innocent often says that whenever he reaches Karnataka, it was the face of Mylappa that queues up in front of his memories.

Malpractices at D’gere college

In Davangere, once he realised that he can’t make both ends meet with the match-box factory and Innocent tried several options for an additional income. At that time, the students of Davangere Medical College approached him with a strange demand—to help them to get through clinical exams. The modus operandi was simple-- innocent had to visit the patients at the general ward to know about their sickness.

The information would be passed on to the students who while at clinical exam will ‘find out’ the disease of the patient going through the symptoms only. For leaking information of a patient, Innocent got Rs 250 and gradually the unscrupulous activity climbed new heights.

Innocent went to bribe a few doctors for clearing medical students in exams for a sum of Rs 1,500. After taking the bribe, doctors will insist Innocent that the beneficiary student never come to know about it till the results are announced.

But once, Innocent could not help telling a student about him clearing the exam and the goofy student immediately arranged a party bash before the results were announced. That was the end of that additional income—the actor reminisces in his autobiography. Later, once he went to Kozhikode Medical College to treat his pregnant wife in a tetanus affected condition, the doctor appeared was none other than one of the students, he got ‘passed’ in Davangere.

“Please don’t expose me. Let me live here,” was the plea of the red-faced doctor. Innocent’s reply was a black humour,” No matter. The life of my wife is up to you. I’m glad that destiny has brought you as a doctor in front of me.”

Unable to return back the debts that he owed to people of Davangere, Innocent had to escape from the place in the darkness of night, without informing anybody. He recalls that he had apologized for the loving people of Shabannur for the cowardly ‘escapade’.

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