Surendranath Thilakan is back where he began. And when he strides back onto the stage, he is coming with questions that are sure to make many cringe.

Thilakan, now 74, had made his foray into theatre at the age of 19, and is gearing up for a return, this time directing and acting in a play, which has a title that says it all. ‘Itho? Daivathinte Swantham Naadu!’ (Is this indeed God’s Own Country?), is written by Manilal, and will have Mr. Thilakan’s son Shammi Thilakan as the assistant director.

The veteran actor, who last performed for the theatre in 1990, when he took up a role in the Chalakudy Saradhy Theatres’ play ‘Adi Shankaran Janicha Naatil’, is making his comeback to theatre quite eventful with a troupe of his own, christened ‘Aksharajwala Naataka Kalari’. The troupe will also have a theatre training wing, which Mr. Thilakan says is to refine and improve acting skills of youngsters who in turn will show the “pompous, self-proclaimed superstars” of Malayalam cinema their real place.

Talking to the media after the ‘pooja’ ceremony of the drama here on Thursday, Mr. Thilakan, who began with the Kottayam National Theatres in 1955 and then renowned drama troupes like KPAC, before making his debut in Malayalam cinema with ‘Ulkadal’ in 1979, said he aimed to continue his struggle. The actor has been the centre-point of a controversy in Malayalam cinema after he alleged that he was being side-lined by superstars.

Stating that the cinema field in the State was “rotting”, Mr. Thilakan said he was a victim of the situation. “I believed cinema was the Ph.D. in acting. But I realized it was not. Most of them are in it for money,” he said, adding that his aim was to create a parallel Malayalam cinema turf and raise a challenge to those who hold cinema to ransom with their whims and fancies.

K.C. Venugopal, MP, lit the lamp. Shammi Thilakan was present.