Thiruvananthapuram: Renowned Malayalam stage and film actor Thilakan died at a private hospital here following a cardiac arrest in the wee hours on Monday.

He was 77. He is survived by two sons and two daughters.

Thilakan had been battling for life at the hospital where he was admitted on August 23 after he had suffered two heart attacks. He had been on and off ventilator since then and had an attack of pneumonia. The end came at 3.35 am on Monday.

Thilakan who began his acting career in his intermediate days, had been associated with several drama troupes in his early days including the pro-Left Kerala Peoples' Arts Centre (KPAC). He entered the filmdom in 1979 with a minor role in K G George's 'Ulkadal'.

Since then, he had acted in more than 200 films and won several national and state awards. He won the National Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1988.

He had won state awards for best actor thrice. The actor was awarded the 'Padmashree' in 2009.

'Perumthachan,' 'Yavanika,' 'Kireedam,' 'Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu,' 'Indian Rupee,' 'Moonnampakkam' and 'Kilukkam' are some of the notable films he acted in. 'Ustad Hotel' is his last released film.

Malayalam screen loses an acting genius

 An imposing presence on the Malayalam screen, Thilakan carved for himself an enviable position among actors in the last three decades of his film career with rare versatility and genius.

As many film-makers and actors openly acknowledge, it will be a void very hard to fill. Thilakan's colleagues in Malayalam filmdom had often stated that a positive energy flowed from him while doing combination scenes.

Thilakan (77), who died in the wee hours following cardiac arrest, had a special 'chemistry' with Mohanlal with whom he had acted in numerous films. He had a role to play in most of the superstar's hit movies.

Starting his career as a theatre artiste in the midst of his intermediate course, Thilakan lent life to many strong characters in plays staged by various drama troupes including Kerala Peoples' Arts Centre (KPAC).

He was associated with the KPAC till 1966 before joining another famous drama troupe, Kalidasa Kalakendram. Later, he associated himself with renowned stage actor P J Antony, who won the national award for best actor for his sterling performance in 'Nirmalyam' in 1970s.

Thilakan also lent his voice to many radio plays and he was a virtual presence for listeners of All India Radio. Even last year, he did a solo performance in a radio play 'Otta' which had only a single character in it.

With a solid background through years of acting on stage, he outshone almost all other Malayalam actors when it came to doing character roles.

Thilakan appeared on screen for the first time in 1979 when director K G George offered him a minor role in his film 'Ulkadal.' He again acted in the director's next films two 'Kolangal' and 'Yavanika' (1981). For his role in 'Yavanika,' he got the state government's best supporting actor award.

In his prolific career, Thilakan acted in over 300 films which left none in doubt about the range of his acting. He donned the role of a villain or comic character with the same ease with which he did his character roles.

'Kireetam,' 'Perumthachan,' 'Irakal,' 'Moonnam Pakkam,' 'Sphadikam,' 'Santhanagopalam,' 'Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu' and 'Kattukuthira' are some of the films in which Thilakan did defining roles.

In films like 'Pattana Pravesam,' 'Nadodikkattu' and 'Sanmanassullavarku Samadhanam,' he had the viewers in splits, while the villain roles in films like 'Namukku Parkan Munthirithoppukal' were exemplary by any standard.

An outspoken person, Thilakan often got embroiled in controversies in the twilight of his career. The actor's self-conviction on certain issues was often mistaken for arrogance in the film field.

He took up cudgels against the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes, alleging that it was of late behaving like a trade union and a mafia gang run by superstars without caring for the welfare of actors.

Film Employees Federation of Kerala had for a short period placed an unofficial 'ban' on him by influencing producers and directors not to include him in their projects. However, Thilakan's talent was something that film-makers could never overlook.

He made a forceful comeback last year with a strong character in 'Indian Rupee' directed by Ranjith, which fetched him the second best actor award of the state government for a sixth time.

'Ustad Hotel' in which he acts along with Dulqar Salman, Mammootty's son and the new face in Malayalam, is the latest film he acted in, besides a small role in 'Spirit.'

Thilakan was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2009. He got the national award for best supporting actor in 1988 for the performance in 'Rithubhedangal.' Later, in 2007 he got a special mention from the national Jury for his role in 'Ekantham.'

He got the state government's best actor award twice—for 'Perumthachan' in 1990 and 'Santhanagopalam' and 'Gamanam' in 1994. He received the second best actor award of the state government six times.

Thilakan was honoured by Asianet Television channel in 2001 and Filmfare in 2005 with life-time achievement awards.


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