Mohanlal, the superstar of Malayalam film industry is now going through the smoothest patch of his career. The actor has made it a habit of delivering industry hits every year, and over a period, he has literally overshadowed his strongest competitor Mammootty.
With mega-budget projects like 'Odiyan' and 'Randamoozham' in the production stage, the actor is expected to take Mollywood to new heights of fame and glory in the coming years. Here's the dream journey of a young man from Trivandrum who emerged as one of the finest actors in India with his hard work and determination.
A teenage debut which went unnoticed
Mohanlal made his first appearance in the big screen with a small role in the movie 'Thiranottam'. The film was an amateur production made by Mohanlal and his friends. Interestingly, one among those friends was Priyadarshan, a noted Bollywood filmmaker who won the prestigious National Award for his film 'Kancheevaram'.
In 'Thiranottam', Mohanlal played the role of Kuttappan, a mentally challenged person. However, the film which was made in 1978 failed to reach the theatres due to censorship issues.
Fazil who reinvented the actor in Mohanlal
It was director Fazil who first recognized the talent in Mohanlal. In 1980, for his directorial debut, Fazil was looking for a fresh face to enact the role of the main antagonist for the movie 'Manjil Virinja Pookkal', and it was at that time that he stumbled upon the hippy haired Mohanlal.
The movie which featured then romantic hero Shankar was a huge hit at the box-office. However, Shankar's screen presence was literally overshadowed by the charisma of Mohanlal, whom the hero praised and proclaimed to emerge as an asset for Mollywood.
After the success of 'Manjil Virinja Pookkal', Mohanlal acted in more than 25 films in which he played mostly negative roles. In 1984, he acted in 'Poochakkoru Mookkuthi' directed by Priyadarshan, a light-hearted comedy which turned out to be a big hit at the box-office.
The birth of a Superstar
In 1986, acclaimed moviemaker Thampi Kannanthanam was looking for the lead star in his movie 'Rajavinte Makan' (Son of the King). He initially approached Mammootty to play the lead role, but due to date clashes, the actor turned down this offer.
Later, he roped in Mohanlal for this movie, and the remaining story is history written in golden letters. The film became one of the biggest hits in the history of Malayalam cinema, and Mohanlal became a new generation Superstar in the Industry.
In 1988, Mohanlal once again joined hands with Priyadarshan for 'Chithram', and for the first time ever in Mollywood history, this film ran for 365 days in many theatres. Next year, he received the National award as special jury mention for his role as a hopeless innocent youth in 'Kireedam'.
In 1991, he went on to bag his first National award in the best actor category for his performance in the movie 'Bharatham'. In 1999, he again won the National award for the movie 'Vaanaprastham' in which he played the role of a Kathakali artist.
Later, the actor appeared in various Superhits including 'Thoovanathumbikal', 'Naadodikaatu', Pattanapravesham', 'Akkare Akkare Akkare', and 'Chandralekha'. It was during the late 1980s and the 1990s that the combination between Mohanlal and Sreenivasan became a success formula in Mollywood. Most of the movies which feature the duo emerged as industry hits; the biggest one being 'Udayanananu Tharam' released in 2005.
When a human turned superhuman
Until the release of 'Narasimham' in 2000, Mohanlal was mainly seen in roles with a boy next to door image. But 'Narasimham' directed by Shaji Kailas portrayed Mohanlal in a superhuman avatar and the result was an unprecedented box-office record.
The success of 'Narasimham' compelled many filmmakers to typecast the actor in roles which are of superhuman in nature that resulted in the downfall of Mohanlal's career as a star. Even hyped movies like 'Praja', 'Onnaman', and 'Thandavam' failed at the box-office, and Mohanlal slowly lost his dominance in the industry.
The grand comeback through Drishyam
After a series of box-office setbacks, Mohanlal came back with a bang through the movie 'Drishyam' directed by Jeethu Joseph. The family thriller grossed Rs.75 crore at the box-office, emerging as the highest-grossing Mollywood movie.
Then came 'Pulimurugan' in 2016. The film became the first Rs.100-crore movie in Mollywood, and after its complete theatrical run, it succeeded in collecting more than Rs. 165 crore at the box-office. The film was even dubbed in many other regional languages, and the Telugu version 'Manyam Puli' became a superhit at the Tollywood box-office.
Recently, he acted in another Telugu movie 'Janatha Garage' with Junior NTR, and this flick too collected more than Rs.100 crore at the box-office.
Taking Mollywood to new heights
Mohanlal is currently awaiting the release of his upcoming movie 'Neerali', touted to be the first survival movie in Malayalam directed by Ajoy Varma.
His upcoming projects are 'Odiyan' and 'Randamoozham', both directed by Sreekumar Menon. Interestingly, 'Randamoozham' penned by acclaimed writer M T Vasudevan Nair will be made with a mammoth budget of Rs.1,000 crore. In 'Randamoozham' based on the epic saga 'Mahabharatha', Mohanlal will be playing the role of Bheema.
Taking social media by a storm
Mohanlal has been long criticized by his fat body language. For his movie 'Odiyan', the star underwent a massive transformation and reportedly shed 20 kilograms to meet the needs of the movie. His new look became top trending visual on Facebook and Twitter, and film technicians from international market lauded the star for his dedication.
Recently, cabinet minister Rajyavardhan Sing Rathore asked Mohanlal to participate in the fitness challenge. Within a few days, the actor posted his new look on Facebook carrying two dumbbells on his hand, and soon the image went viral on online spaces. With a lean muscular look, the actor literally surprised his fans.
Here's a man in Mollywood who can portray any kind of roles with perfection. At a time when other superstars like Mammootty and Suresh Gopi are failing to reinvent themselves, Mohanlal is already emerging as the epitome of a 'Complete Actor' whom every filmmaker loves to cast.