Rizabawa, the veteran Malayalam actor and dubbing artist, died on Monday in Kochi, Kerala. He was 60.

According to a report in The New Indian Express, the actor had been undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Kochi for kidney-related ailments. As per the hospital authorities, he died following a stroke on Monday afternoon. 

Since samples collected from the actor’s remains returned a positive result for Covid-19, public homage was not allowed. His final rites were scheduled to be conducted in accordance with the Covid-19 protocols at the Chembittapally Juma Masjid, Kochangadi on Tuesday morning.

Rizabawa was popular for essaying antagonist roles in the 1990s.

Born on September 24, 1966, in Mundamveli, Kochi, he began his career as an actor in the theatre and turned to cinema with Vishupakshi (1984). However, the film was not released. He later made his debut in a lead role in Dr Pasupathy, the 1990 film directed by Shaji Kailas.  

Following that, he rose to fame with his performance as John Honai in Siddique-Lal’s In Harihar Nagar, the 1990 Malayalam comedy thriller, which also featured actors Mukesh, Jagadish, Siddique, and Ashokan. It was one of his most celebrated roles and led to him being cast in several villain roles in films such as Irikku MD Akathundu, Vakkeel Vasudev, Thiruthalvaadi and Malappuram Haji Mahanaya Joji.

Some of Rizabawa’s other popular films include Champakulam Thachan, Kabuliwala, Bandhukal Shatrukal, Ezhupunna Tharakan, Amina Tailors, Aniyan Bhava Chettan Bhava, Ezhara Ponnana and  Ente Ponnuthampuran. He was last seen in the 2021 political drama film One, which starred Mammootty in the lead.

Apart from acting in around 140 films, Rizabawa was also known for his work as a dubbing artist. He won the Kerala State Film Award in the Best Dubbing Artist category for lending voice to Tamil actor Thalaivasal Vijay in Karmayogi (2010). He dubbed for the actor in Nidra (2012) and The Hit List (2012) as well.

Rizabawa also dubbed for Hindi actor Anupam Kher in the romantic drama film Pranayam (2011), written and directed by Blessy, and for actor Mahadevan in the 2011 film Sevenes.

In the later phase of his career, Rizabawa moved to television serials. His recent appearances on the small screen include Namam Japikunna Veedu telecast on Mazhavil Manorama and Thenum Vayambum on Surya TV. 

Several artists from the Malayalam film industry, including actors Mammootty, Mohanlal, Prithviraj Sukumaran and Dulquer Salmaan, well-wishers and fans paid tribute to the late actor.

Grieving the loss of Rizawaba, filmmaker Shaji Kailas, who launched the actor, wrote in a social media post: “The best things in life are the people we love, the places we’ve been, and the memories we’ve made along the way. Very sad, Riza.”

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condoled the demise of the actor and recalled how Rizabawa made a place for himself in the hearts of Malayalees through his remarkable characters.

Rizabawa is survived by his wife Jameela, daughter Ferooza, son-in-law Sahal, and grandson Adam Jordan.