Thilakan, the Malayalam character actor who said goodbye to life today after a brief illness, was not just an artiste but a man of compassion and knowledge of life.
I had good fortune to know him somewhat closely after he settled down in Trivandrum. Came up hard way in life, fighting a lot of adversities, he had become tough in life but only those who was privy to his unpainted face knows he was a man of passion and compassion. Few know that he worked for a few years for a living with GREF (General Reserve Engineer Force) which built roads in the border. Any background with military/ regimental life in the early period of one’s life is an asset as I understand.
His talent as an actor is not in doubt, I am sure, even his enemies would concede grudgingly. But he had a mercurial temper and an acerbic tongue that earned him quite a few enemies in the dog-eat-dog world of films. He had a running battle with Association of Malayalam Movies (AMMA) that became classic fight between an organsied body and an individual. That he survived the combined attack and even a boycott tells his indispensability for the Malayalam movies. I have felt that some of his views or apprehensions were silly without basis. For instance, he told me more than once, that he being an Ezhava (OBC) he was being haunted out by the upper castes Nairs (Like Mohan Lal and his group). I did not believe him. However as an artist he stands in the front row that is occupied by Satyan, Lal, Mammooty.
He was antithesis to the very image of a film actor: short, dark and not handsome. But with acting prowess he overcame all — and therein lies his greatness as an artist. He was dear to me for another reason. He had released my first book: the Romance of Death in 2006 at the Trivandrum Press Club. It is a philosophical thriller. His tricky joke, risqué at corners, is his observation that wife makes a married man philosopher with apology to my wife who was sitting in the audience.
Dear friend, wherever you have gone, you’ll continue to live in the minds of Malayalis for a long long time.
About the Author (Author Profile)
PK Surendran is senior editor at Postnoon.