Veteran Malayalam film actor Bharath Gopi died Tuesday at a private hospital here. He was 71.
Gopi was hospitalised last week after suffering a heart attack while shooting for the film Dhey Engotu Nokiya.
Known as Gopiettan to all in the Kerala film industry, he began his career as a theatre actor.
Gopi made his film debut with Adoor Gopalakrishnan's first movie Swayamvaram in 1972 and went on to star in popular films like Ormakkayi, Yavanika, Panchavadippalam and Aadaminte Vaariyell.<b1>
Gopi's portrayal of a villager in the film Kodiyettam in 1977 won him the National Film Award for Best Actor. He was also awarded Padmasri in 1991.
Born in 1937 in Chirayankil in Thiruvananthapuram district, Gopi acted in nearly a hundred films in his long career, but he was choosy about the roles he wanted to play. He also acted in two Hindi movies, Aghaat and Satah Se Udta Admi.
Gopi was paralysed by a stroke at the prime of his career in 1986. However, he went on to act in more than two dozen films.
Gopi also produced and directed a few films, including Mammootty-starrer Padhyam.
Mammootty said he was shocked to hear of Gopi's death.
The Malayalam superstar said: "There has been only one Gopi and he can never ever be replaced. I have acted in several films with him and was also fortunate to play the lead role in the film Padhayam which he produced after he came back to the industry after suffering a stroke. His space can never be filled."