'Thilakan straddled both stage and screen'
Veteran Malayalam actor Thilakan passed away at a private hospital here early Monday. He was 74.
The actor, who died at 3 a.m., was in critical condition after suffering two heart attacks. He acted in nearly 300 films in south Indian languages, mostly Malayalam.
Beginning his career on stage in the 1950s, he became famous with his very first film, "Ulkadal" (1979). His latest film, "Ustad Hotel", is still running in theatres.
The state government has borne the hospital expenses of the actor since his hospitalisation a month ago. Thilakan is survived by two sons and a daughter.
The body was kept at VJT Hall here, so that his fans could pay their last respects before the cremation Monday.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that Thilakan had straddled both the stage and the screen world, and that actors like him were rare. "The void he leaves cannot be filled," the chief minister said, recalling a career that spanned five decades.
Leader of the opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said Thilakan was a close friend of the communist movement, and one willing to fight battles for the industry single-handed.
"He stood tall in the field of theatre and cinema and his passing away is an irreparable loss to the social and cultural fabric of the state," Achuthanandan said.