Innocent Vareed Thekkethala, known mononymously as Innocent, is an Indian actor, producer, occasional playback singer and politician who has won multiple prestigious honors in his career including two-lifetime achievement awards. He is well-beloved for his roles infused with humour and his peculiar comic style which has a huge fan following in Malayalam film industry. Hailing from Irinjalakuda in Thrissur district, he is active in the political world as well, and won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency. Innocent is also the Municipal councilor of Irinjalakuda and was the president of Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) for over 12 years.
Born on 28th February 1945, to Vareed Thekkethala and Margaret Thekkethala, Innocent discontinued his studies after 8th grade as he was not interested in academics and tried to make a living through several businesses including making matchboxes and leather business. He started his career with the movie Nrityashala, in 1972.
Innocent is married to Alice and has a son named Sonnet and two grandsons, Innocent Jr. and Anna. Innocent Jr. has also acted in a documentary based on his grandfather`s childhood. Innocent suffered from throat cancer and has written an account of his experiences in his book titled Cancer Wardile Chiri (Laughter in the Cancer Ward). He has also published memoirs titled, Njan Innocent, Mazha Kannadi (collection of short stories), and Chirikku Pinnil (an autobiography).
As an Actor
Innocent is known for his distinct style as an actor which is admired by the Malayalam film industry. This unique style has captured the audience attention and so he enjoys an enviable position in the Malayalam comedy scene. Having starred in more than 500 movies in different roles, he has worked in Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi movies. He is also a favorite for mimicry artists as his style is easily copied in dozens of films and theater. His noteworthy performances have made him a most favored artist of popular directors like Priyadarshan
, Sathyan Anthikad
, and Kamal. Apart from roles which need his perfect comic timing, Innocent is also known for his proven acting skills by starring in several serious off-beat roles.
He has played characters with a dash of humor in some super hit comedy films like Ramji Rao Speaking, in the year 1989 where he played Mannar Mathayi, a middle age unsuccessful theater owner who gets involved in a kidnapping case and various hilarious events which follow. It was directed by debut director duo Siddique-Lal co- starring, Saikumar, Rekha, N. F. Varghese, and Harishree Ashokan. Considered a cult classic, Priyadarshan then made a Hindi remake called, Hera Pheri which also enjoys the same status in Bollywood. In 1995, he starred in Mannar Mathai Speaking, which is a sequel to Ramji Rao Speaking (1989). In his second outing as Mannar, Innocent runs a drama group under Urvashi Theatres. The movie was universally appreciated and was a smashing hit. Some of the movie elements and scenes were used by Priyadarshan in his movie, Bhagam Bhaag in 2006.
As a character actor, Innocent is known to be versatile as he has played unforgettable villainous roles which the audience accepted and enjoyed. Movies like Kilukkam, Godfather, Vietnam Colony, Nadodikattu, and Devaasuram has innocent play serious character actor while Keli, Kathodu Kathoram has him playing a `baddie` in the movie. His performing prowess can be seen in movies like Kabooliwaala, Nadodikkattu
, Gajakesariyogam, Mithunam, Mazhavilkavadi, Manassinakkare, Thuruppugulan, Mahasamudram and Rasathanthram. In 2006, he won The Asianet Film Award for Best Actor in a Comic Role for Rasathanthram. These movies turned out to be successful as his effort, along with his superstar co-stars is considered to play an important role in their success. In 2013, he received two Lifetime Achievement Awards, one from Asianet and the other from TTK Prestige-Vanitha Film Awards. He is a regular in Gulf stage shows as an anchor as his oratory and poetry skills have demand.
In recent times, the actor was seen in the Sathyan Anthikkad directorial Jomonte Suvisheshangal
(2017), the Jayasurya starrer Njan Marykutty (2018) and the Mohanlal
(2018). Of these, his portrayal of a church pastor in the social drama Njan Marykutty
and Gopi Mash in the fantasy drama Odiyan were well-received. In 2019, Innocent appeared in the Pranav Mohanlal starrer Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu
, the comedy-drama Lonappante Mammodheesa starring Jayaram, and the Mammootty starrer Gaanagandharvan.
As a Producer
He has worked in a handful of projects as a producer in the early 80s. He started producing films with Vida Parayum Munpe in 1981 which starred, Prem Nazir who won a Special Jury Award at the 1981 Kerala State Film Awards for his portrayal of Madhavan Kutty. The critically acclaimed and commercially successful film also starred Innocent where he played Varghese. In 1982, he produced Ilakkangal where he starred with Nedumudi Venu, Sudha, and Kaviyoor Ponnamma in lead roles. Then came Ormakkayi in 1982, which is a drama film about reflections of a tragic event, starring Madhavi, Bharath Gopi, Adoor Bhasi, Nedumudi Venu, Ramu, Krishnachandran and Kunchan in important roles. In 1983, he made a controversial movie based on real life actress Shobha titled Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback. His 2019 releases include Lonappante Mammodisa and Jack & Daniel.