Politicians, cultural leaders, actors and hundreds of others from almost every avenue of life made a beeline for the Victoria Jubilee Memorial Town Hall in Thiruvananthapuram where the body of Thilakan, who died early Monday morning, was placed for public viewing around 11 a.m.

Culture Minister K.C. Joseph and Minister in charge of Cinema K.B. Ganesh Kumar led the mourners. Wreaths were laid on the mortal remains of one the most powerful actors that Malayalam cinema has seen on behalf of Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, before the public got the opportunity to catch one last glimpse of the veteran actor.

The body was brought to the VJT Hall after being taken to his son’s house in Thiruvananthapuram. The body will be cremated with State honours at the electric crematorium in the city around 4 p.m.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy described him as ‘a great actor who had few equals’.

In a condolence message, Mr. Chandy pointed out that Thilakan was a major presence in Malayalam theatre and cinema for over five decades. Beginning his acting career in an amateur theatre group at Mundakkayam, he had gone on to prove his acting prowess at Kerala People’s Arts Club (KPAC), Kalidasa Kala Kendram and Changanassery Geedha. He made his mark as a film actor with Ulkkadal.

With his deep voice and incomparable histrionic skills, Thilakan immortalised every single role that he donned. Winner of several State-Central awards, he was honoured by the nation with the Padma Shri. Thilakan’s death is a major loss for Malayalam’s art world, Mr. Chandy said.

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan termed the death of the actor an irreparable loss for Kerala’s cultural scene and progressive movements.

In a condolence message on Monday, Mr. Achuthanandan said that he had a long friendship with the actor. Thilakan had waged a lonely battle against wrong tendencies in film industry and refused to be cowed down. He was a well-wisher of the Communist movement. He would not bow before anyone, either in art or life. Thilakan may be no more, but he would live on through his characters, Mr. Achuthanandan said.

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