Kalabhavan Mani (1 January 1971 – 6 March 2016)
I wonder why it hurts so much to see actors, people that most of us don’t know beyond what we see on screen, pass away. Is it because we’ve always loved them, but tend to forget about them if they don’t pop up in the media every so often? (There’s a voice in the back of my head that keeps asking this question- did they know how much we loved them, did we love them enough, did we appreciate them enough, did we…). Does it hurt because at some point in time they made us smile or cry or entertained us in some form or the other? And, for those moments, they helped us forget our own problems and in turn, forget that they- these people whose job it is to entertain us, who play such vibrant, immortal characters on-screen- are just as mortal as we are. Maybe, we’ll forget about them after a while and it will stop hurting. Maybe.
So Kalabhavan Mani is no more. The lower-caste auto driver from Chalakkudy who went on to become one of the most loved comic actors in the 90s and early 2000s, an incredibly capable character actor, a National Award winner, the man that amused us with his unique voice and ‘naadan paatukal’, the man that made us laugh with his even more unique laugh (ngeehaahaha), a man with family and friends and people who cared about him. Is no more. Is. No. More.
What will it be like watching Summer in Bethlehem again? Or Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum. Or Ayalum Nyanum Thammil. Or Gemini. Or Vel. (or, or, or). What will it be like watching all the other actors that entertain us today, who have in some way been influenced by this man (and he has indeed influenced many). Maybe we will forget some day and it will just be a haze in all the other actors that come and go on our screens, desperately trying to entertain us. Maybe.
But now it hurts. And it will keep hurting for a while. And the void that has been left in our industry (yet again) can never be filled. And hearing his wonderful voice/laugh will upset us. (and, and, and). All we can do now is pray for his family, for his friends, for the industry. And for us, to be happy with his memories.