Noted Malayalam actor Kollam Ajith, who has worked in more than 500 films, died early Thursday morning. According to reports, he had been suffering from stomach related ailments since a few years and breathed his last at 3.40 am on April 5. The actor had been undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Kochi.

Initially known as Ajith Kumar, the actor decided to use Kollam as a suffix to his name since even though he hails from Kottayam, he was brought up in Kadappakada Kollam, where his father was a Railway Station Master. Ajith started his career in films not as an actor but as an assistant to director Padmarajan. But the filmmaker saw a spark in Ajith and cast him in Malayalam film Parannu Parannu Parannu, marking Kollam Ajith’s acting debut, in 1984.

He went on to do many films with Padmarajan post this debut, in fact he came a permanent member in the cast of all projects by the director. Though he started out in Malayalam cinema, he worked in films in mostly all South Indian languages and was roped in to play villain in most. He has worked with the greats like Mammootty in Veendum, Mission 90 Days, Prajapathi, with Mohanlal in Aaraam Thampuran, Lal Salam, Olympiyan Anthony Adam and Nirnayam. But it was only in 2016 that he finally took the plunge to get behind the cameras and turn director and script writer for Malayalam movie Calling Bell.

Kollam Ajith is survived by his wife Prameela, daughter Gayathri and son Sreehari.