Veteran Malayalam actor and director "Cochin" Haneefa died of a liver ailment at a private hospital in Chennai on Tuesday, family sources said.
He was 61 and is survived by his wife and two children.
Mostly cast in the role of villain in the initial stages of his career, he later excelled in comedy. He had acted in over 300 films since his debut film "Mamangam" in 1979.
He had also acted in several Tamil films.
Salim Ahmed in real life, Haneefa started his acting career through the stage troupe Kochin Kalabhavan.
Some films directed by him like 'Valsalyam' were box office hits and won critical acclaim.
Haneefa took easily to comedy roles and his performances were received enthusiastically by film buffs.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi expressed shock at the death of Hanifa and offered condolences to his family.
"He has acted in many films, including Pasa Paravaigal for which I had penned the dialogue and he used to be very polite and respectful whenever we interacted," Karunanidhi recalled.
Hanifa had acted in scores of Tamil movies with the Kamalhassan-starrer 'Mahanadi' giving him a major break.
He had essayed a role in the 2007 Rajni-starrer, Sivaji-The Boss. He also was a regular in Tamil star Ajith's films.
Haneefa is the third major Malayalam star who has passed away in recent months after Murali and Rajan P Dev.