Echoing the title of his first drama, ‘Jeevitham Avasanikkunnilla’ (Life never ends), life was a never ending theatre for Thilakan. Returning to his native town of Mundakkayam after discontinuing his studies, Thilakan began his glorious journey into the world of acting, along with two friends - Jaihind Chellappan and Vava. Thus born Mundakkayam Dramatic Club at a small room of Baby Sounds in 1955.
“The rehearsal was at my house and the drama was inaugurated by Prem Navas, brother of Prem Nazeer. Though our second drama ‘Edakoodam’ by Jagathi N K Achary was a bigger hit, we couldn’t continue with the troupe owing to various reasons,” remembers Chellappan. Both of them shared the same warmth of the friendship which started from class II at St Lewis School, 34th mile where they had the first lessons both in acting and studies.
“Mariyakkutti Asatti, the-then headmaster, gave us the first stage. Acting was in his blood and he was very good at singing too. The songs of our drama was sung by him,” said Chellappan. Born on December 15, 1938, as the second among the six children of P S Kesavan Writer and Devayani, Surendranath Thilakan spent his early days at Manikkal division of the Travancore Rubber and Tea Estate at Mundakkayam, where his father was a division conductor. He left for a stint at military service after dropping pre-university at SN College, Kollam, after SSLC at Kottayam MT Seminary School. He studied till eighth at Mundakkayam CMS High School. Named after two prominent Congress leaders of that time - Surendranath Banerjee and Balagangadhara Thilakan, the young actor shared his heart with communists, probably imbibed from Cherootty, a party sympathiser and maid, who showered him the love of a mother at his formative years. Thus Thilakan became regular at communist party meetings as a singer. After the dramatic club, Thilakan entered the big league with Geetha Theatres of Chachappan and KPAC.
But it was the meeting with legendary actor P J Antony that changed his career. After grooming up at PJ school, Thilakan entered the tinsel world through the film directed by P J Antony, ‘Periyar,’ in 1972.