Kainakary Thankaraj, the veteran Malayalam film and theatre actor, died at his residence in Keralapuram in Kollam, on Sunday. He was 76 years old.
The actor reportedly suffered a stroke a year ago and had been dealing with health-related ailments since. However, he continued to act in films and telefilms. A few months ago, Thankaraj had a fall, which led to further deterioration of his health. Last week, the actor was admitted to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.
Born to Narayan Kutti and Janaki Amma, Thankaraj followed in the footsteps of his father, who was a theatre actor. He gave over 16,000 stage performances over the course of his career, working with popular theatre groups in Kerala like KPAC, Chenganassery Geetha and Sarathi. He was also a recipient of the Kerala State Award for best theatre actor.
Thankaraj made his film debut in 1979 alongside actor Prem Nazir in Aana Paachan. More recently, he received wide recognition for his role as Vavachan in Ee. Ma. Yau (2018). He acted in over 35 films in all, and was particularly known for his work in movies such as #Home, Ishq, Lucifer, Orilathanalil, Amen, Iblis, and Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam.
Many actors and technicians from the Malayalam film industry, including Mohanlal, Mammootty, Suresh Gopi, Lijo Jose Pellissery and Prithviraj Sukumaran, paid tribute to the late actor on social media.
Condoling his demise, Mohanlal, who worked with Thankaraj in Lucifer, mentioned that he was an actor who had gifted the audience some remarkable performances in the theatre and cinema world for many years.
Murali Gopy, the writer of Lucifer, revealed in a social media post that Thankaraj, who played Krishnan Nedumpally in the film, was to have a significant role in its sequel, which is currently in the scripting stage.
Filmmaker Rojin Thomas, who directed #Home, took to his Instagram page to pay tribute to the late actor. He wrote, “Soul of our #Home: Kainakary Thankaraj (appachan). You are always loved and never forgotten.”