A promising career cut short by cancer

Going by the reactions to Jishnu’s Facebook posts, he was an inspiration to many.  

He had a most charming, disarming smile. Even the sharpest of pains caused by cancer could not take any sheen off that smile.

Jishnu smiled in the ICU too. And his smile reached out, through his Facebook page, to people who never knew him or did not even see or like the 20-odd films he acted in.

Then, on Good Friday, all smiles stopped together (to borrow from Robert Browning). At the age of 36.

There may be much bigger stars in Malayalam cinema in his own generation, but few could inspire as many people as he did in his brief life. Messages are still pouring in on his Facebook page (

That page would tell you more about the young man than the movies he acted in or the interviews he gave. It would tell you that he faced his grimmest battles with grace.

In one of his last posts, on March 8, he wrote: “I am in ICU now… this is kind of my second home now… I was sleeping when my doctor came for rounds… I woke up as soon as he came and gave him a bright smile…”

Going by the reactions to his posts, you would find that he was an inspiration to so many. He showed them how you could take life head on with a smile.

Life was looking good for this bright engineer-turned-actor when he was diagnosed with cancer. He had made an impression in his second coming in Malayalam cinema; he had become part of successful films such as Ustad Hotel and Ordinary.

He had raised big expectations with his debut film as a hero in Nammal, in 2002; he had good looks and acting was in his genes, being the son of Raghavan, a successful hero from the black-and-white era of Malayalam cinema. But, he failed to make it big as a hero and had to do character roles.

Age, however, was on his side and with the positive changes that Malayalam cinema has been witnessing of late, Jishnu still could have played a long and substantial innings in tinsel town. That, sadly, was not to be.

Jishnu first appeared on the silver screen as a child artiste in Kilippattu, directed by his father in 1987. A decade and a half later, he rose to popularity as one of the twin protagonists of the film, Nammal, directed by Kamal. The performance won him Kerala Film Critics Award for the best debutant male artist.

A string of films like Choonda, Parayam, Nerariyan CBI, Pauran and Chakkaramuthu featured him, but Jishnu — a mechanical engineering graduate form National Institute of Technology, Kozhikode — chose to take a break from films to work in the IT industry in Delhi.

His comeback role as a school teacher in the blockbuster film Ordinary received attention, following which he acted in the remake of Nidra by his old pal Sidharth Bharathan, Ustad Hotel, Banking Hours and Rebecca Uthup Kizhakkemala.

Jishnu also figured in the Hindi remake of the hit Malayalam film, Traffic.

Director Kamal said Jishnu’s departure was a big personal loss. “He maintained a positive frame of mind till the very end. But he also wanted to do a lot of things in life,” Kamal said.

Actor Jagadeesh recalled the humility of Jishnu, who, despite being the son of a popular actor, never had any airs about it. Actor and Lok Sabha member Innocent said Jishnu gave him the strength to fight cancer when he was going through a rough patch, recovering from a bout of the ailment.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 8:01:08 AM |

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