Actor cremated at Shanthi Kavadam with full State honours
Actor Thilakan had a special chemistry with the average Malayali. When all roads led to the Victoria Jubilee Memorial Town Hall, here, on Monday — where Thilakan’s body was placed for public viewing — this alchemy was very much on display.
As cultural leaders, politicians, actors, and hundreds of others who, at that time, were just fans of the iconic actor filed past Thilakan’s body with folded hands, it was clear that the man with the stentorian bearing had touched many a Malayali heart, each in a unique manner.
A while after the actor’s death was formally announced at 3.35 a.m., the body was taken to his son’s house in the city and from there to the VJT Hall. Since early morning a steady stream of mourners thronged the hospital to pay their last respects to Thilakan.
At the VJT Hall, Minister for Culture 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 of Malayalam cinema on behalf of Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, before the public got the opportunity to catch one last glimpse of the veteran actor.
Ministers K.C. Joseph, Anoop Jacob, K.B. Ganesh Kumar, and K. Babu; Shashi Tharoor, MP; Speaker G. Karthikeyan; Leader of the Opposition V.S Achuthanandan; CPI(M) leaders Pinarayi Vijayan, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, and Kadakampally Surendran were among the senior political leaders who paid homage to the actor. Several figures from the Malayalam film industry and cultural figures were present.
Even at 3.30 p.m. when Thilakan’s body was taken to the Shanthi Kavadam for cremation there were a large number of people who were yet to catch a last glimpse of their beloved actor. He was cremated with full State honours.
When asked to describe the way they saw the actor, most — whether it was a homemaker from Thycaud or a University College student — had two standard responses. His natural flair at occupying a range of roles, and that he was a man of conviction who always stood firmly by his beliefs.
Rathnamma stood in a safe corner away from the crowds of camerapersons who monopolised much of the space around the actor and his family at Shanthi Kavadam prior to the cremation, craning her neck in vain to catch a glimpse of the rituals under way. She echoed a popular sentiment – that the vacuum Thilakan has left is near-impossible to fill. “He was such a joy to watch and the only times my husband would insist on going to the cinema hall was when Thilakan was part of the film,” she said, as she reminisced the characters played by the actor.
“He had a very natural way of acting and he never over-dramatised any role he played. He effortlessly slips into the character and it is difficult to choose from the umpteen memorable roles he has played,” said Venugopal, a Secretariat employee. He was also all praise for the fact that the actor “did not ever succumb to any pressures and spoke his mind irrespective of whether it rubbed any one the wrong way.”
A TV personality and actor Parvathi T. said that Thilakan was a “classic example of one who observed life and through his genuine performances, he managed to turn each moment into a work of art.”
Actor Revathy, who is currently in Mumbai, said on the phone that it was a pity that there was a lack of documentation that recorded the nuances of his acting. It would have proved invaluable to upcoming actors. “His ability to transform so completely into whatever character he is meant to play is so rare and that secret died with him,” she said, wishing she had had more opportunities to work with as flawless an actor as Thilakan.