P. K. Surendranatha Thilakan

(1935-07-15)15 July 1935
Died24 September 2012(2012-09-24) (aged 77)
Years active1956–1978 (stage)
1972, 1979–2012 (film)
Children6 (incl. Shammi and Shobi)
  • Palapurath S. Keshavan
  • Devayani

Palappurathu Kesavan Surendranatha Thilakan (15 July 1935 – 24 September 2012) was an Indian film and stage actor who appeared in over 200 Malayalam films.[2][3][4] Thilakan was known for his elaborate method acting, realistic and spontaneous appearances.[5] He is considered by many to be one of the greatest Indian actors of all time.

Early life

Thilakan was the second of the six children of Palapurath T. S. Keshavan (1904–1972) and Devayani (1912–2010). Thilakan was born in Plankamon, Ayroor Panchayat in the present-day Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. He had his primary education from Asan Pallikoodam, Manikkal and St. Louis Catholic School, Nalamvayal and Sree Narayana College, Kollam. Thilakan lived in Plankamon until he started acting in films for which he moved to Ernakulam.

Thilakan started his full-time career in acting after leaving college in the year 1956. During this period he and several friends formed a drama troupe called the Mundakayam Nataka Samithy in Mundakayam, where his father was working as an estate supervisor. He worked with the Kerala People's Arts Club till 1966, followed by stints in Kalidasa Kala Kendra, Changanacherry Geetha, and P. J. Antony's troupe. He also performed in several radio plays presented by All India Radio


Thilakan began his career in cinema with a role in the P. J. Antony-directed Malayalam movie Periyar (1973). He then worked in Gandharvakshetram and Ulkadal (1979). His first role as a lead character was as Kallu Varkey, a drunkard in Kolangal (1981). Thilakan was awarded his first Kerala State Film Awards in 1982 for his role in Yavanika.

In 1988, he received the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Rithubhedam, and again in 1994. In 1998, he won State awards for Santhanagopalam and Gamanam. He was strongly favored[6] to get another National Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in the movie Perumthachan, but the award was given to Amitabh Bachchan over Thilakan amidst suspicions of strong lobbying, as Amitabh had announced his retirement earlier that year.[6] The film Kireedam was a milestone in Thilakan's career; in this film, he portrayed a helpless policeman silently watching the fate of his son, played by Mohanlal, who was corrupted by society's influences. In 1989 he performed in Mrugya, in which his role of a Reverend Father Panangodan was well appreciated by critics and won him many accolades. In the 1990s Thilakan was part of many Mohanlal evergreen hit films. In 1987, he played the comic role of Ananthan Nambiar in the cult-classic comedy movie Nadodikkattu, from which several of Thilakan's lines became very popular. In 1993, he continued his role as the father of Sethu Madhavan (Mohanlal) in the movie Chenkol. Like its prequel Kireedam, this movie also fared well both commercially and critically. His role as a retired mathematics teacher, father of Aadu Thoma (Mohanlal), in the 1995 blockbuster movie Sphadikam was well appreciated by critics and audiences alike. In 1998, he played the role of Dileep's father in the superhit Meenathil Thalikettu, and in his subsequent release he donned the role of a villain in the Kunchako Boban starrer Mayilpeelikavu. In the same year, he was also seen in Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala. Other notable films Thilakan has acted in include Moonnam Pakkam, Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal, Mookkilla Rajyathu, Randam Bhavam, Kaattu Kuthira and Yavanika.

He has also acted in other South Indian languages, such as Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.

Thilakan has portrayed a range of characters; however, his most well-known role is that of the father of Mohanlal, portraying a father-son duo. Movies where he donned this role include Kireedam, Sphadikam, Narasimham, Evidam Swargamanu, Pavithram and Chenkol. He has also played father roles to other popular actors, including with Mammootty in Sangham, The Truth, No. 1 Snehatheeram Bangalore North and Pallavur Devanarayanan, with Jayaram in Veendum Chila Veettu Karyangal and Sandesam with Kunchacko Boban in Aniyathi Pravu and with Prithviraj in Sathyam. He has also played a number of antagonists, such as in Randam Bhavam, Karma and Kaalal Pada. He has played comical roles in films like Nadodikkattu and Pattanapravesham (as a coward underworld don), Mookkilla Rajyathu (as a break-out from a mental hospital), Kuttettan (as a pimp) and Naaduvazhikal (as a good-for-nothing, vain person). His is also remembered for the role of comic underworld don Damodarjj in Sanmanassullavarkku Samadhanam. Thilakan played lead roles in Ekantham, Perumthachan, Santhanagopalam, Kaattukuthira, My Dear Muthachan, Mukhamudra (double role), etc.

In 2006, he was seen in the Suresh Gopi-Shaji Kailas blockbuster, Chinthamani Kolacase, where he played the father of the title character Chinthamani enacted by Bhavana. In 2007, he acted in Ekantham, for which he received a special mention from the jury.[7] In 2009, he was also seen in Pazhassi Raja, and in the same year he played Mohanlal's father one last time in the actor's 300th movie Evidam Swargamanu. In 2011, he played a significant role in the Prithviraj blockbuster Indian Rupee directed by Renjith. In 2012, he played the role of Kareem Bhai in Ustad Hotel and as the grandfather of Faizy, acted by Dulquer Salmaan.


National Film Award

Thilakan, in an interview, claimed that the then jury chairman Ashok Kumar was keen on giving him the 1991 National Film Award for Best Actor for Perumthachan but that a Congress leader wanted the award to be given to Amitabh Bachchan to woo him back to their party.[8]


In February 2010, it was reported that the producer of the movie Christian Brothers excluded Thilakan from the film at the request of the FEFKA, the predominant film technicians association. Thilakan had been earlier signed for a role in the film. The exclusion was reportedly due to Thilakan acting in a film by director Vinayan, who till recently headed the rival association MACTA. On 3 February 2010, Thilakan publicly protested against the unofficial ban enforced on him by FEFKA and blamed FEFKA for engineering the ban. The Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) issued a show cause notice to Thilakan for bringing the issue into the public domain. Thilakan accused AMMA, of which he too is a member.[9][10] On 20 February 2010 the CPI's trade union wing, AITUC, came out openly in support of Thilakan, while a senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member K. E. Ismail expressed reservations about political involvement in the issue.[11]

Thilakan was originally cast to play a role in a UAE-Indian co-production film Dam 999.[12] He was later replaced following a notice from FEFKA stating that the association would boycott the film if Thilakan were to act. Sohan, the director, was forced to seek a substitute for Thilakan when it "came to the point that shooting might be disrupted."[13] Eventually, Rajit Kapur was cast instead of Thilakan.[14] Some reports contended that Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) also had intervened in Thilakan's replacement.[14] In response, Thilakan and his supporters orchestrated a march near the shooting location of the film in Alappuzha.[15]

Personal life


Thilakan's first partner was actress Santha with whom he appeared in several productions. Thilakan and San Later, he had a second partner, his co-artist Sarojam with whom he had a son, Shibu Thilakan, and two daughters Dr. Sonia Thilakan and Sophia Ajith.


Thilakan was a staunch atheist[16] throughout his life, and was a supporter of Communist Party. He was a member of many drama troupes which actively promoted Communism in Kerala. When he died, his dead body was draped with Communist flag.



For a long time, Thilakan dealt with numerous health issues like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. He was hospitalized multiple times due to these problems. Finally, he was admitted to Jubilee Mission Hospital in Thrissur on 1 August 2012 after he collapsed during the shooting of the film Scene Onnu Nammude Veedu. He was then shifted to KIMS Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram and was in critical condition after suffering two heart attacks. Besides having cardiac problems, Thilakan was suffering from pneumonia. He was put on a ventilator and died on 24 September 2012.[17] He was cremated with full state honours.[18]


Civilian honours

National Film Awards:

Kerala State Film Awards:

Filmfare Awards South

Other awards


Malayalam films

Year Movie Role Notes
1972 Periyar
1972 Gandharavakshetram Guest at Satheeshan's house
1979 Ulkadal Rahulan's father
Year Movie Role Notes
1981 Kolangal Varkey
1982 Yavanika Vakkachan
1982 Chiriyo chiri Film Producer
1983 Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flash Back
1983 Asthi Factory Worker
1983 Prem Nazirine Kanmanilla Home Minister
1983 Prasnam Gurutharam Mohan's father
1983 Ente Mamattikkuttiyammakku Fr. Joseph Sebastian
1983 Adaminte Variyellu Purushothaman Nair
1984 Panchavadi Palam Isahak Tharakan
1984 Oru Kochukatha Aarum Parayatha Katha Mammukka
1984 Onnanu Nammal Sethu's Father
1984 Koottinilamkili Devasya
1984 Engane Undasane
1984 Arante Mulla Kochu Mulla Bhargavan Pillai
1984 Aattuvanchi Ulanjappol Karunakaran Nair
1984 Uyarangalil Police C I
1985 Vasantha Sena Unnithan
1985 Mukhyamanthri
1985 Akkachide Kunjuvava
1985 Oru Kuda Keezhil Kurup
1985 Katha Ithuvare
1985 Iniyum Katha Thudarum
1985 Akalathe Ambili Kichettan
1985 Upaharam Divakaran
1985 Ambada Njane Padmanabhan
1985 Thammil Thammil
1985 Noketha Doorathu kannum Nattu
1985 Koodum Thedi Priest
1985 Aram + Aram = Kinnaram M.N.Nambiar
1985 Anubandham Menon
1985 Ayanam Priest
1985 Ente Kanakkuyil Kuttan Nair
1985 Yathra Jailor
1985 Ee Lokam Ivide Kure Manushyar Krishna Pillai
1986 Sanmanassullavarkku Samadhanam Damodar Ji
1986 Pappan Priyappetta Pappan Kaalan
1986 Akalangalil
1986 Panchagni Raman
1986 Oridathu Raman
1986 Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal Paul Pailokkaran, Sofia's stepfather
1986 Kunjattakilikal Ayyappan Nair
1986 Irakal Mathews / Mathukutty
1986 Oru Yugasandhya Shanmugam
1986 Rareeram Doctor Tharakan
1986 Chilambu Appu Nair
1986 Ennennum Kannettante Parameswara Kuruppu
1986 Ithile Iniyum Varu Kaimal
1986 Gandhinagar 2nd Street Maya's Father
1986 Ee Kaikalil Ummachan
1986 Pranamam Aparna's Father
1986 Ennu Nathante Nimmi Police Inspector
1987 Kalam Mari Katha Mari Hameed
1987 Vrutham Chacko
1987 Rithubhetham Achunni Nair
1987 Kadhakku Pinnil Kunjipalu
1987 Vilambaram James
1987 Idanaazhiyil Oru Kaalocha Father Dennis
1987 Aalippazhangal Padmanabhan Thampi
1987 Sruthi Aashaan
1987 Nadodikkattu Ananthan Nambiar
1987 Manja Manthrangal Mathew Paul
1987 Amrutham Gamaya Kurup
1987 Achuvettante Veedu Damodaran Nair
1987 Thaniyavarthanam Balan's Uncle
1987 Unnikale Oru Katha Parayam Priest
1988 Onninu Purake Mattonnu Velu
1988 Kanakambarangal S.I Thomas George
1988 Mukthi
1988 Witness Vikraman Nair
1988 Pattana Pravesham Ananthan Nambiar
1988 Moonnam Pakkam Thampi a.k.a. Muthachan
1988 Kudumba Puranam Sankaran Nair
1988 Dhwani Vettukuzhy
1989 Ammavanu Pattiya Amali Menon
1989 Kandathum Kettathum
1989 Varnam Major M. K. Nair
1989 Varavelppu Labour Officer Ramakrishnan
1989 Naaduvazhikal Shankaran
1989 Kireedam Achuthan Nair (Sethu's father)
1989 Varnatheru Rohini's Father
1989 Kaalal Pada Punnoose Punnakkadan / Punnoose Muthalali
1989 Jaithra Yathra Prof. Banerjee
1989 Jathakam Appukuttan Nair
1989 Chanakyan Madhava Menon
1989 Chakkikotha Chankaran Raghavan Thampi
1989 Adharvam Mekkadan
1989 Vachanam Police Officer
Year Movie Role Notes
1990 Sasneham Retired Stationmaster
1990 Rajavazhcha Madhava Panikkar
1990 Radha Madhavam N. S. Anadapadmanabhan
1990 Perumthachan Raman (Perumthachan)
1990 Maalayogam Varkey
1990 Kattukuthira Kochuvava
1990 Ee Kannikoodi Simon
1990 Mathilukal Jail Warden
1990 Oliyampukal John Mathew
1991 Venal Kinavukal Gopalakrishnan Nair
1991 Sandesam Raghavan Nair
1991 Mookilla Rajyathu Keshavan / Keshu
1991 Kilukkam Justice Pillai
1991 Kadavu
1991 Godfather Balaraman (elder son of Anjooran)
1991 Georgekutty C/O Georgekutty Ittichan
1991 Dhanam
1992 Mukhamudra Achuthan Pilla & Ananthan Pilla
1992 Mahanagaram Kelu writer
1992 Swaroopam
1992 Sadhyam Dr. K. V. G. Nambiar
1992 My Dear Muthachan Parameswaran / Major K. K. Menon
1992 Ezhara Ponnana Madhava Menon
1992 Daivathinte Vikrithikal Kumaran
1992 Kauravar Aliyaar
1993 Samagamam Pallivathukkal Kariyachan
1993 Bandhukkal Shathrukkal Damodaran
1993 Kalippattam K. MK. Menon
1993 Ghoshayathra Moideen Haji
1993 Aacharyan Krishna Menon IAS
1993 Janam D.G.P Thomas Mathew
1993 Maya Mayooram Thanoor Shankunni Menon
1993 Ente Sreekuttikku Balakrishnan Nair
1993 Chenkol Achuthan Nair (Sethu's father)
1993 Ammayana Sathyam R. Varghese Mathew
1993 Aagneyam Velu Aashan
1993 Manichithrathazhu Pullattuparam Brahmadathan Namboothiripad
1994 Vendor Daniel State Licency Vendor Daniel
1994 Agrajan
1994 Pavithram Easwara Pillai
1994 Pakshe Vikraman Contractor
1994 Pingami Kumaran
1994 Minnaram Retd. I. G. Matthews
1994 Kudumba Visesham Madhavan Nair
1994 Kinnaripuzhayoram Thirusherry Madhavan Vaidyar
1994 Chukkan Shankaran Nair
1994 Gamanam
1994 Santhanagopalam Krishna Kurup
1995 Thacholi Varghese Chekavar Avarachan
1995 Sundari Neeyum Sundaran Njanum Achuthan Nair
1995 Sphadikam C. P. Chacko / Kaduva Chacko / Chacko Master
1995 Peter Scott
1995 Karma M. R. Sreedhara Menon
1996 Naalamkettile Nalla Thampimar I.G Rasheed Khan
1996 Yuvathurki Justice T. N. Sharma
1996 Kathil Oru Kinnaram Unnithan
1996 Harbour Pattalam Pappachan
1996 Rajaputhran Balaraman
1996 Kaanchanam
1997 Kulam Kudaman Pillai
1997 Ullasappoonkattu John Fernandez
1997 Athyunnathangalil Koodaaram Panithavar
1997 Ishtadanam
1997 Aniyathipravu Raghupal, Sudhi's Father
1997 Mangamma Karuppan Mooppar
1997 Five Star Hospital Carlos
1997 Oru Yathramozhi Adhruman (Abdul Rahiman)
1997 Itha Oru Snehagatha
1997 Nee Varuvolam Madhavan Nair
1997 Rishyasringan
1997 Vaachalam
1997 Gangothri
1997 Poonilamazha
1997 Oral Mathram Shekhara Menon
1997 Nagarapuranam Sathya Narayanan
1997 Manickakoodaram
1997 Bhoopathi Bawa/Chindan
1997 Kattathoru Penpoovu
1998 Sidhartha Raghavan
1998 Nakshathra Tharattu
1998 Meenathil Thalikettu Govindan Nambeesan
1998 The Truth Sivapuram Patteri
1998 British Market
1998 Punjabi House Kaimal Master
1998 Ilamura Thampuran
1998 Kalapam Valayar Madhavan
1998 Mayilpeelikkavu Valyathan
1998 Elavamkodu Desam Mooss
1998 Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala Karunan Mash
1999 Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu Natesan Muthalali
1999 Saphalyam
1999 Sparsham
1999 Veendum Chila Veettukaryangal Kochuthoma
1999 Thachiledathu Chundan Vikraman Nair
1999 Prem Poojari Music director
1999 Pallavur Devanarayanan Pallavur Sreekanta Pothuval
Year Movie Role Notes
2000 Narasimham Justice Maranchery Karunakara Menon
2000 Ingane Oru Nilapakshi
2000 Ee Mazha Thenmazha Narendranath
2000 Priyam Priest
2000 Mazha Doctor
2001 Randam Bhavam Govindji
2002 Valkannadi Raghavan
2002 Kalyanaraman Meppattu Thirumeni Guest Role
2003 Kilichundan Mampazham Chekutty Muthalali
2003 Malsaram
2004 Vellinakshatram Valliyankattu Thirumeni
2004 Koottu Dr. Hariharan
2004 Sathyam Ayyappan Nair
2004 Quotation
2005 OK Chacko Cochin Mumbai Chacko Bhai
2005 Isra
2005 Nerariyan CBI Kapra
2005 Mayookham
2006 Raashtram Sakhavu Gopalan
2006 Chinthamani Kolacase Veeramani Warrier
2006 Kisan Muthassan
2006 Prajapathi Vellodi
2006 Kalabham
2006 Yes Your Honour Judge Mukundan
2006 Pakal
2007 Nagaram Judge
2007 Athishayan Fr. Chanthakkadan
2007 Pranayakalam
2007 Eakantham Achutha Menon
2007 Black Cat Moosath
2008 De Ingottu Nokkiye
2008 One Way Ticket
2008 Vilapangalkkappuram Gopalan
2008 Aayudham Madhavan
2009 Red Chillies Comrade Maani Varghese
2009 Makante Achan K. C. Francis
2009 Orkkuka Vallappozhum Sethumadhavan
2009 Aayirathil Oruvan Krishnan
2009 Bharya Swantham Suhruthu Joseph Madathiparambil
2009 Kadha, Samvidhanam Kunchakko
2009 Ee Pattanathil Bhootham Cameo role
2009 Pazhassi Raja Kurumbranaadu Raja Veeravarma
2009 Vairam Thalikkulam Avarachan
2009 Kerala Cafe Segment – Mrityunjayam
2009 Kappal Muthalaali Yamarajan
2009 Evidam Swargamanu Jermias
2010 Kanmazha Peyyum Munpe
2010 Drona 2010 Maniyankottu Guptan Namboothiri
2010 Naayakan Vincent Karanavar / Vincent Vadakkan
2010 Sadgamaya
2010 Yakshiyum Njanum Narayanji
2010 Annarakkannanum Thannalayathu
2011 Achan Major Madhava Menon
2011 Kalabha Mazha Madhava Menon
2011 Chungakkarum Veshyakalum Unniyachan
2011 Raghuvinte Swantham Rasiya Kuttappan Bhagavathar
2011 Arabipponnu
2011 Indian Rupee Achutha Menon
2012 Manjadikuru Appukuttan Nair
2012 Spirit Mesthiri
2012 Koodaram
2012 Mullamottum Munthiricharum Vazhakkula Achan
2012 No. 66 Madhura Bus
2012 Ustad Hotel Kareem Ikka / Uppuppa
2012 Simhasanam Bishop
2012 Scene Onnu Nammude Veedu
2012 Ardhanaari Nayak
2013 Yathrakkoduvil Ravi
2013 Annum Innum Ennum Dr. Benjamin Bruno
2013 Breaking News Live
2013 Dracula 2012
2013 August Club K.P.T. Menon
2013 God for Sale Sakhavu Vareeth
2013 Bangles Prof. Vincent Chenna Durai Final Film

Tamil films

Telugu films

Kannada films

As a dubbing artist

Television serials

TV shows

Show (Title) Network Directed
Anveshi DD
Mannu DD
Kadamathathu Kathanar Asianet
Swami Ayyappan Asianet Suresh Unnithan
Orma Asianet K K Rajeev
Sree Ayyappanum Vavarum Surya TV
Madhavam Surya TV
Peythozhiyaathe Surya TV K.K Rajeev


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  4. ^ 'The Malayalam superstars are highly insecure' Archived 28 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine. (31 December 2004).
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  11. ^ "Fullstory". Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
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  14. ^ a b "Rajath Kapoor replaces Thilakan in Dam 999". One India. 11 March 2010. Archived from the original on 20 February 2013.
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  16. ^ "God does not exist, says Thilakan". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  17. ^ "Malayalam thespian Thilakan dead". The Hindu. 24 September 2012. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012.
  18. ^ "Shaji Thilakan, son of veteran Malayalam actor Thilakan, dies in Thrissur". The New Minute. 12 March 2020. Archived from the original on 27 July 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
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  21. ^ "Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Fellowship: Drama". Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala. Retrieved 25 February 2023.