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Legendary Malayalam actor Thilakan passes away

Last updated on: September 24, 2012 12:41 IST

Image: Thilakan
Rediff Entertainment Bureau

Legendary Malayalam actor Thilakan, one of finest talents on Indian screens, is no more. He was 77. He has been in a critical condition for the past few weeks.

A man who was born to act collapsed on the sets of a Malayalam film in Shoranur last month and was rushed to the hospital where he was on and off the ventilator. After the film fraternity neglected him and isolated him for many years, finally the Government of Kerala lead by actor turned minister Ganesh Kumar took care of his medical treatment. There was a plan to take him to Vellore when his condition turned worse. But the doctors from CMC, Vellore found his health too critical to move from Thiruvananthapuram. Finally, he breathed his last in the same private hospital in the state capital.

All those actors, filmmakers and technicians who stayed away from him and abused him till recently, are today showering praises on him!

With inputs from Vijay

Adieu, Thilakan!

Image: Prithviraj and Thilakan in Indian Rupee

Born and brought up in Plankamon, in Pathanamthitta district and it was here that Thilakan had his tryst with acting; with dramas which were mostly pro-left. He always remarked that it was the training he had in the theatre that made him the kind of actor that he is with subtle expressions, and realistic portrayals.

It was as if an actor Thilakan's calibre could not be restricted to dramas alo#8800 he made his entry into films in 1979. Innumerable unforgettable characters followed, and Malayalam cinema became richer because of such a great actor.

The inimitable actor has left behind some brilliant characters, which will remain in the minds of the viewers forever. With a face that could convey every emotion, a style that is just brilliant, a voice which is identified by every Malayali and unmatched genius, he ruled the screens for more than three decades.

His brilliance in films like Thaniyavarthanam, Perumthachan, Kireedam, Sphadikam, Yaathra, Rithubhedam, Panchagni, Gamanam, Kattukuthira, Chenkol, Veendum Chila Veettukaryangal and many others will make him live in the minds of film lovers in the years to come.

Adieu, Thilakan!

Image: A scene from Indian Rupee

Thilakan's versatility was amazing. Along with power packed performances, he acted in several comic roles in films like Mookkilla Rajyathu, Kuttettan, Nadodikkaattu and Pattanapravesham.

One role of Thilakan that Indian cinema will never be able to forget is that of Perumthachan, based on an amazing script written by the Jnanapith award winner, M.T.Vasudsevan Nair. He would have won the national award that year but lost out to Amitabh Bachchan in the final stage which he always described due to "political interference." In an interview to in 2008, he had said, "Perumthachan was very special. Yes, I was tipped to win the award. It is a long story how I lost out at the last minute. It was almost decided the award would come my way. Even Ashok Kumar, the jury chairman, was keen on giving me the award.

Others in the know told me that a top Congress politician, who was planning a comeback of sorts in power, wanted the award to be given to Amitabh Bachchan to woo him to the Congress. He wanted Bachchan to woo the voters, and so wanted to keep Bachchan happy by conferring a National Award on him. Apparently, the top leader called up the jury and asked who the leading contender for the award was. When they said it was an actor from the South, he promptly told the jury head to award 'that fellow from the South next year.' The award went to Bachchan.

Quizzed by a Gulf daily why I was not given the award, Ashok Kumar said that 'it was a secret which can't be revealed.' I still have that newspaper with me. They also sought my reaction to the news. And that night, I lost my sleep, and confidence in awards."

That was the kind of person Thilakan was. Frank, daring, impulsive and supremely confident.

Adieu, Thilakan!

Image: Mohanlal and Thilakan in Ividam Swargamanu

It was this confidence and frankness of his that landed in him in trouble and his unbiased words often ruffled many feathers.

Anyway, Thilakan was conferred with Padma Shri in 2009 and he won the National Award for the best supporting actor for Rithubhedam (1988) and the special jury award for Ekantham (2007). He has won the state award several times in his career.

It was unfortunate that an actor of his calibre was kept away from cinema in which he was the best, due to some dirty politics played by a few. Of course, it cannot also be denied that he was outspoken to the point of hurting and crossing swords with others. But recently he was back with some brilliant performances in films like Indian Rupee and Usthad Hotel.

It was not Thilakan who lost out on roles in these years but Malayalam cinema, and Indian cinema also lost some excellent performances from him.