Superstar Mohanlal is an iconic actor who primarily works in the Malayalam film industry. The actor has delivered over 300 films spanning over three decades. His impressive acting performances have earned him the titles, ‘The Complete Actor’ and ‘The Universal Star’. Interestingly, his career began with playing negative roles, before he rose to stardom. The versatile actor has been equally proficient in comedy and serious roles.
He has proved himself to be a highly successful businessman, film distributor, producer, singer, martial artist, wrestler, theater artist, and is even an honorary Lt. Colonel in the Indian Army. He has been granted several prestigious honors including National Film Awards, Kerala State Film Awards, Filmfare Awards, and a Padma Shri from Government of India.
Mohanlal Vishwanathan Nair was born on May 21st, 1960 at Pathanamthitta in Kerala to Vishwanathan Nair and Santhakumari. His father, a former bureaucrat, was the law secretary of Kerala. He spent his childhood in Mudavanmugal, Thiruvananthapuram. Mohanlal completed his schooling from Thiruvananthapuram Model School before becoming a commerce graduate from Mahatma Gandhi College. His acting talents were imminent even at that early age when he received the Best Actor prize for playing a 90-year-old in a school play called ‘Computer Boy’. The actor, also known as Lalettan, was an avid cricketer in his college days. He was also the state wrestling champion of 1977-78.
He had a brother, Pyare Lal, who died during a military exercise. He is college friends with director Priyadarshan and they have delivered numerous superhits together.
He has two children, Pranav and Vismaya with his wife Suchitra, daughter of film producer K. Balaji. The couple tied the knot on 28 April 1988.
Mohanlal enjoys the melodramatic live acting in theater. His roles include that of Karna in Karnavaaram, Kadhyattam, Chhayamukhi, and The Tempest. He has also lent his voice in the dance ballet Maya Ravan.
Mohanlal was about to attend the National Wrestling Championship in Delhi when the dates clashed with auditioning for Navodaya Films. The production house was looking for a fresh actor to enact the role of Narendran in Fazil’s debut film Manjil Virinja Pookkal. He chose to go for auditions and never looked back. This 1980 romantic movie, where he played the role of a sadistic husband, has achieved a cult status. This is considered his debut film although his first role was at the age of 18 for the unreleased comedy film Thiranottam. It was a home production by his friends and was released 25 years later! In the next three years post his debut, he did over 25 films, mostly as a villain. His first positive role was also in the first 70 mm film of Malayali Cinema, Padayottam, in 1982.
His first successful role as a hero was in the film Ivide Thudangunnu. Another of his cult films from this time was the 1984 comedy movie Poochakkoru Mookkuthi with director friend Priyadarshan. Since then, the duo has delivered over 25 superhit movies. He started a career as a playback singer in 1985, for the film Onnanam Kunnil Oradi Kunnil. The versatile actor also started his production house Casino Films in 1984. In 1986, he was a part of a whopping 34 films. His role in comedy drama T.P Balagopalan M.A earned him the distinction of the youngest actor to receive the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor. His roles in crime dramas Rajavinte Makan (1986) and Irupatham Noottandu (1987) cemented his status as one of the industry’s top performers. The tragicomedy Chitram (1988), as of 2015, still holds the record for the longest-running film in a single-screen theater (58 weeks). His role in Kireedam, 1989, earned him a special jury mention at the National Awards.
The debut film of his own production company, His Highness Abdullah, was critically well-received. The versatile actor won the National Film Award for Best Actor for his role in the movie Bharatham (1991 release). In 1997, his spiritual fantasy film Guru became the first Malayalam movie to be chosen as India’s official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Mohanlal then performed the challenging role of a Kathakali artist in the Indo-French film Vanaprastham which was screened at Cannes in 1999. His depiction of a rogue character in the 2000 film Narasimham was appreciated and the movie went on to become a mega blockbuster hit.
Mohanlal ventured into Bollywood for the first time with Ram Gopal Verma’s Company. His South Indian accent in the role of a Mumbai police officer was very well received by Hindi movie fans and he even won the Best Supporting Actor award at IIFA. The talented Malayali actor kept experimenting with diverse roles in movies like the 2005 release Thanmathra, where he seamlessly essayed the role of an Alzheimer patient, the 2006 movie Kirtichakra, Hallo in 2007, and the 2012 flick Casanovva. In 2009, the Tamil movie Unnaipol Oryvan saw Mohanlal share screen space with another superstar- Kamal Hassan. The year 2013 was a successful one for Mohanlal with many of his films doing well critically and commercially. The list included Lokpal, Red Wine, Geethaanjali, and Drishyam. In 2014, he starred in the Tamil action flick Jilla, alongside Vijay. The movie made the highest single day earnings for any language film in Kerala, as of 2016.
Mohanlal has also starred in numerous hit films, including Oppam (2016), Manamantha (2016), Vismayam (2016), Janatha Garage (2016) and Pulimurugan (2016), which was one of the highest-grossing Malayalam films ever. His other projects include the trilingual war drama 1971: Beyond Borders (2017), Velipadinte Pusthakam (2017), Villain (2017), Aadhi (2018), Neerali (2018), and Odiyan (2018).