The tragedy of Thilakan is the tragedy of every character actor in regional films in India. Also it is the tragedy of every supporting actor in Indian films. Sometimes, being a great actor is not good enough. You have to have the right tag and the right address. Like the deserving national award that he lost to Big B, every honor that was forsaken mocked the honor, not him.
We compete to celebrate the stars and hysterically praise when finally they do manage a decent expression in a tiny scene in an ocean of films. The line between posing and acting is blurred than ever. We forget that cinema is a medium where one can get away with a lot with tricks in the editing, angles, score etc. Often we confuse a good line of dialogue with good acting. The liberal heart with which we embrace the antics of many Bollywood ‘actors’ is insane. The threshold for accommodation of someone as an ‘actor’ (not even good actor) in Hindi film industry is insanely low compared with most regional film industries. I have never understood this phenomena. Probably a reason would be the strong role of pedigree for breakthrough.
I hate sounding dramatic. But for me, Thilakan was the best film actor Malayalam ever produced. Only competition would be late Bharat Gopi. I am not familiar with every regional language in India. But with the exposure I have had with Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi films, I would confidently say that he would figure in the top 5 in India.