50 years under the arc lights

Tilakan has made a mark in Malayalam cinema with his portrayal of a varied range of characters, from the tough father, master and policeman to tear-rending ones such as grandfather in agony and victim of societal forces. This year, he is celebrating 50 years of his acting career in drama and cinema. The puja of the celebrations (named `50 years of Vellithirayile Perunthachan') was conducted in Kochi on Friday. Veteran actress Kaviyoor Ponnamma lit the traditional lamp.


Talking to The Hindu , his son, Shibu Tilakan, said a 100-hour tele-documentary on the life and times of the actor would be ready by Onam. "This will include comments on him by people from social-cultural and political fields and bringing together the main characters that he portrayed in his 366 movies. The documentary will be telecast on television on a weekly basis," he said. Public shows have been planned in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.

"I made a foray into professional dramas in 1955," says Tilakan. "That was just for fun. After a few years, it dawned on me that it was serious business and I had to in fact do the acting part too. My parents were not too pleased with my choice of acting in dramas. They even stopped giving me food. Thus, I had to move out of the family, as a dejected youth."

Just before his entry into professional drama, he was selected as the best actor in college for the role of Mark Antony in `Julius Caesar'. "My first movie was `Periyar,' in 1972, in which I acted as Kaviyoor Ponnamma's son."

Mr Tilakan attributes his versatility to the divergent people and areas that he travels. "Some people remain in memory. When acting, I just need to superimpose him/her in the role. And, I never stop studying acting," Tilakan says.

He is in the process of writing a book, `Vairakallukal', a collection of turning points that moulded him as an actor.

John L. Paul

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