Krishnan Nair (Malayalam: കൃഷ്ണന് നായര്, July 25, 1939 – November 16, 1980), better known by his stage name Jayan (Malayalam: ജയന്), was an Indian film actor, former sailor, stunt performer and 1970s style icon. He worked in Malayalam cinema, a sector of the Indian movie industry. During his film career, he was primarily an action star and was particularly famous for his macho image and unique style. He was reputed for his chauvinistic appeal, masculine persona and well known for performing stunts of dangerous nature on his own. By late 1970s, he became the most popular lead actor and commercial superstar of malayalam film industry and has been acclaimed as the first action hero of Malayalam cinema.
Jayan was an Indian Navy officer before he came to films and rose to fame as an actor in a very short time, appearing as an action hero in numerous films during the 1970s. He died at the age of 41, at the peak of his popularity, as a result of an accident while filming a dangerous stunt involving a flying helicopter that crashed while he was hanging on to it.
He has since then become a legendary symbol of daredevilry and masculinity with numerous inspirations, imitations, his unfading popularity being widely used to promote newage movies, actors and brands and an evergrowing fanbase spanning generations.
His superhuman image has also transformed him into an iconic figure of popular culture among malayalees around the world with widespread impersonation on stage and television programs based on his screen persona. It was accompanied by a cartoon, email and sms phenomenon in early 2000s, portraying him as a comic superhero with unique quotes of superhuman strength attributed to the action star becoming widespread. These movements were fueled by a renewed fascination with his style of dialogue delivery and his machismo image. These were claimed to honour his memories but were also criticised for parodying the legendary actor years after his death.
A film titled Avatharam presently under production, is attempting to bring back his screen persona using advanced technologies. A documentary on Jayan's life and death Jayan - The Man behind the Legend is nearing completion for release on the occasion of his 31st death anniversary.
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