Kochi: Actor Rizabawa, best known for his role as John Honai in the 1990 Malayalam film In Harihar Nagar passed away here on Monday. He was being treated at a private hospital for kidney related ailments. He was 55.
He had been under treatment for various ailments including diabetes and was put on ventilator support four days ago.
His samples have returned positive after a COVID-19 test. Following this, a public funeral has been cancelled. The mortal remains will be buried at the Chembitta Palli Kabarastan at Kochangadi in Kochi at 8am on Tuesday adhering to Covid protocols.
Rizabawa is the son of late K E Muhammed Ismael and Sainaba Ismael. He is survived by wife Jameela Beevi, daughter Firuza Sahal and son-in-law Sahal.
He made his acting debut with the film Dr Pasupathy directed by Shaji Kailas. But he got his big break with the director duo Siddique-Lal in the movie In Harihar Nagar. His role John Honai became a big time hit and is still one of the golden characters of Malayalam cinema loved by the audience for the villainous nature.
Rizabawa then acted in over 100 films, mostly as villain, in the 1990s.
His other notable films include 'Kabuliwala', 'Nerariyan CBI', 'Cover Story', 'Aniyan Bava Chettan Bava'.
He later moved into the small-screen industry, acting in a number of Malayalam serials.
He won the Kerala state film award for the Best Dubbing Artist in 2010 for the film Karmayogi.
He did his early education from St Sebastian School, Thoppumpady. He entered the cinema industry after learning the nuances of acting in drama.
He made his maiden foray in the filmdom in 1984 with the unreleased 'Vishupakshi'.
In the 1990s he appeared in films mostly as villain or character artist, though occasionally. In the last decade he was embroiled in a financial litigation.
Condoling the actor's death, ace director Shaji Kailas said he was a very quiet personality and was easy to work with.
"We used to regularly speak and spoke very recently also. His bowing out so young is difficult to come to terms with... I have lost a good friend and above all a very good human being," he said.
Veteran comedian and character actor, and Malayalam actors' body AMMA's former chief, Innocent, who played a key role in Rizabawa's debut film, said: "Even though we all will react to the news of a colleague passing away with words like unexpected, sad and what not, I am genuinely feeling deeply sad."
"He was a genuinely very nice person and above all someone who was very quiet and did his work with lot of passion. We will all miss him," he said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Opposition Leader of the State Assembly V D Satheesan and Ministers expressed condolences over the death of the actor.