Actor Thilakan, who passed away on September 24, might not have acted in too many Tamil films, but considering the impact he had on Tamil audiences, it's going to be quite a while before memories of the veteran actor will fade.
Director Sundar C, who brought the thespian back to Tamil screens in his film 'Mettukudi' (1996), says it was nobody else but Thilakan who he had in mind while writing the role of the negative character in the film. "There were about 12 positive characters in the film and the one negative role had to compensate for all of them. And Thilakan sir could do it," he admires.
The Malayalam actor is still remembered for his role of Arumai Nayagam in 'Sathiriyan' (1990) in which actor Vijayakanth played the lead.
Some of his latest Tamil flicks include 'Alibaba' (2008) and 'Nee Venumda Chellam' (2006). Despite the fact that Thilakan was as short as five and a half feet, there was something about his on-screen presence that had a dominating effect, says Sundar C, "His look is complemented by his unique voice. It was sad to see somebody else dub for him in a few Tamil movies".
The director also recalls the humility with which Thilakan worked in the industry, even readily obliging to work extended hours often. "He was an intense actor and a directors' delight. He didn't have act, but just be himself. Whatever directors had in mind, he would grasp it and deliver it with double impact. It's definitely Tamil cinema's fault to not have used him more," he adds.
Actor Ramesh, best known for his debut film 'Jithan', has worked with Thilakan in 'Nee Venumda Chellam'. "Thilakan sir couldn't walk much when we were shooting the film, but he did the best that he could. After shooting, he would sit with us casually and discuss films. I learnt a lot from him," says Ramesh.
Actor Parthiban, who has worked with Thilakan in 'Aravindhan' (1997), says it was from the late actor that he learnt a lesson in perseverance. Parthiban adds that he even enquired with one of Thilakan's sons about his father's health during a recent trip to Kerala. "Death is just physical for artistes. Thilakan sir's contribution is immortal," says Parthiban.