Meera Srinivasan and Ramya Kannan
CHENNAI: When actor Cochin Haneefa died here on Tuesday, it was as much a loss for the Tamil film industry as it was for the Malayalam industry.
Haneefa was rushed to the Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre at Porur on January 28 with “chronic gastrointestinal problem.” According to a release from the hospital, despite intensive medical treatment, he died at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The body was embalmed and placed at the Kerala Samajam here for fans to pay tributes. Later, it would be flown to Kochi.
The actor, who also made a mark as script and screenplay writer, dialogue writer and director, was known for his portrayal of character roles in Tamil films. He was at ease with comedy, too.
His performance in Kamal Haasan-starrer ‘Mahanadhi’ won him acclaim from critics and fans. He had the audience rolling in laughter with his spontaneity in ‘Kadhala Kadhala.’ More recently, his performance in films such as Rajinikanth-starrer ‘Sivaji’ and Vikram-starrer ‘Anniyan’ were noteworthy. One of his last films was the recent ‘Vettaikaran’, with actor Vijay playing the lead.
His colleagues remember him as someone who could portray a variety of roles effortlessly.
Speaking to The Hindu, Vikram said: “He is one of those unique actors who could seamlessly blend villainy with a tinge of humour.” Recalling his experience of working with Haneefa in ‘Anniyan’ and in a few Malayalam films, he said: “Though he’d come only in a few scenes [in ‘Anniyan’] no one could miss him. For roles that have some ambiguity about whether it’s a good guy or a bad guy, he is one of the best choices. Until the end, one cannot really guess if he’ll end up being good or bad.”
Terming his passing away “a big loss” to the industry, Vikram said, “I will certainly miss him.”
According to S. Shivpprasadh of Sri Sai Productions, Haneefa’s debut as an actor, screenplay writer, dialogue writer and director were for Malayalam films made by the production house. He was later roped in by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to work in films such as ‘Paasa Paravaigal’.
Mr. Karunanidhi on Tuesday condoled the death of Haneefa. Expressing shock, he said the news was conveyed to him by actor Mammooty. The Chief Minister said Haneefa had acted in several Tamil movies and also in a Tamil movie for which he (Mr. Karunanidhi) penned the dialogue.