Mohanlal at IFFK inauguration (2012)
|Born||Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair
21 May 1960 
Elanthoor, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India
|Residence||Thevara, Kochi, Kerala|
|Alma mater||Mahatma Gandhi College, Trivandrum|
|Occupation||Film actor, producer, distributor, entrepreneur, singer, writer|
|Relatives||K. Balaji (father-in-law)
Suresh Balaji (brother-in-law)
|Awards||National Film Awards:
Best Actor (1991, 99)
Producer of the Best Film (1999)
Special Jury Award – Actor (1989)
Filmfare Awards South:
Filmfare Award for Best Actor(1986, 88, 93, 94, 95, 99, 2005, 07)
Special Jury Award(2009)
Kerala State Awards:
Best Actor (1986, 91, 95, 99, 2005, 07)
Mohanlal made his acting debut in Thiranottam (1978) but the film was unreleased then due to censorship issues, it got released later, after 25 years, in five theaters. He followed that by a role as the antagonist in his first release Manjil Virinja Pookkal (1980) at the age of 20. Mohanlal has also acted in a number of Tamil and Bollywood films. Of these, his notable roles were in Iruvar, directed by Mani Ratnam, and Company, directed by Ram Gopal Varma. As well as being an actor and producer, Mohanlal also owns businesses involved in film distribution, restaurants and packaged spices.
He was elected as most popular Keralite in a 2006 online poll conducted by CNN-IBN on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Kerala's formation. In 2001, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour, for his contributions to Indian cinema. He has won four Indian National Film Awards — two Best Actor Awards, one Special Jury Award for acting, and one Award for Best Film as producer along with six Kerala State Film Awards for Best Actor. In 2009, he became the first actor to be given the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army of India and in 2010 received an honorary doctorate from Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kerala.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Film career
- 3 Works
- 4 Other projects
- 5 In the media
- 6 Personal life
- 7 As escape artist
- 8 Cricket
- 9 Awards and achievements
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Mohanlal was born in Pathanamthitta in south Kerala to Vishwananthan Nair, worked in Kerala Government Secretariat who later on became the Law Secretary of the state and Santhakumary. He had an elder brother, Pyarelal, who died in the early 2000s. He was raised in Mudavanmugal in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum).Mohanlal studied at Model School, Thiruvananthapuram, and graduated with a B.Com. from Mahatma Gandhi College in Thiruvananthapuram. Mohanlal received his first Best Actor Award when he was in sixth grade at Model School for a stage play called "Computer Boy" by Veloor Krishnankutty. He enacted as a ninety-year-old in the play.
Early years (1978–1985)
Mohanlal made his acting debut in 1978 with the film Thiranottam which was created by Mohanlal and his friends: Maniyan Pilla Raju, Suresh Kumar, Unni, Priyadarshan, Ravi Kumar and others. Mohanlal played Kuttappan, a mentally disabled servant in the movie. The film was completed but it took 25 years to release the movie.
In 1980, Mohanlal was cast in the lead antagonist role in Manjil Virinja Pookkal– the directorial debut of Fazil. The movie became a major hit. Mohanlal's friends had sent his application in response to an advertisement by Navodaya Studio. He was auditioned for the role in front of a panel that included professional directors; two of them gave him poor marks but Fazil and Jijo Appachan liked him. In an interview with Reader's Digest in 2004, Mohanlal said that his looks as a young man might have fit the villain's image. By 1983, Mohanlal was credited in more than 25 feature films most of which had him play negative roles. Films like Ente Mohangal poovaniju, Iniyengilum, Visa, Attakalsham, Kaliyil Alppam Kariyam, Ente mamattikutiiyammakku, Engane Nee marakkum,Unaroo, & Sreekrishnaparunthu changed his villain image[vague]. In Sasikumar's Ivide thudangunnu he became a successful hero. Mohanlal played his first comic lead role in an ensemble cast, as a young man in love with a girl whom he mistakenly believes to be rich, in the 1984 comedy Poochakkoru Mookkuthi. It also marked the beginning of Mohanlal-Priyadarshan duo who As of 2011[update] have worked together in 29 movies. In 1985, he recorded a song for the film Onnanam Kunnil. Uyarangalil, Nokketha Doorathu Kannum Nattu, Boeing Boeing and Aram + Aram Kinnaram were some of his movies in this period.
Mohanlal played very different roles in films "made by the great masters" like G. Aravindan, Hariharan, M. T. Vasudevan Nair, Padmarajan, Bharathan and Lohithadas. Mohanlal, along with the actor and scriptwriter Sreenivasan who played his sidekick in several movies, showcased the angst of unemployed, educated Malayali youth forced to adapt to hostile environments in many realistic social satires, some of which were written by Sreenivasan himself.
In 1986 he starred in T. P. Balagopalan M.A., directed by Sathyan Anthikad, for which he received his first Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor. He portrayed an unemployed young man who shoulders the responsibility of his family. His performance in Sanmanassullavarkku Samadhanam as a harassed house-owner won him the Filmfare Award for Best Actor (Malayalam) also. Mohanlal was touted as the new Malayalam superstar after the box-office success of Rajavinte Makan in which he played underworld don Vincent Gomas He also starred in the tragedy Thalavattom, playing Vinod, a young man who becomes mentally ill upon witnessing his girlfriend's death. Mohanlal appeared in 36 movies in 1986.
The following year, Mohanlal starred with Sreenivasan and Shobana in the Sathyan Anthikad comedy Nadodikkattu, which became a box-office success. Mohanlal and Sreenivasan reprised their roles as the detectives Dasan and Vijayan respectively in the sequels, Pattanapravesham (1988) and Akkare Akkare Akkare (1990). Thoovanathumbikal, directed by Padmarajan, in which he portrayed a person torn between his twin love interests, broke many stereotypes in Indian films, such as the leading man falling in love with a second woman immediately after he is rejected by the first. The romantic comedy, Chithram, released in 1988, played for 365 days in a theatre, becoming the longest running Malayalam movie still which plays full shows daily. Mohanlal won a Kerala State Special Jury Award in 1988 for his acting in the movies Padamudra, Aryan, Vellanakalude Nadu, Ulsavapittennu and Chithram.
In 1989, the combination of writer Lohitha Das and director Sibi Malayil is considered to have produced some of his most poignant roles, his role of Sethu Madhavan, who dreams of becoming a police officer but ends up as a criminal, in the tragedy Kireedam, earned him a National Film Special Jury Award. Mohanlal later recalled that his portrayal of Sethumadhavan's mental agony, commended as a natural performance, was spontaneous and that he "did what Sethumadhavan, my character, would have done in such a situation", adding that acting was "akin to entering another person's body."
In 1989, he acted in a movie which became a hit in the year, Varavelpu, which tells the story of a man who earned money in overseas and came back to his native to enjoy his life with family. He bought a bus, which changed his life fully. The former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, mentioned the movie as an example for ignorance by Kerala towards global economic changes during the inauguration of Global Investor Meet held at Kochi on 18 January 2003.
In the early 1990s, Mohanlal acted in a number of notable commercial movies, such as His Highness Abdullah, Midhunam and No.20 Madras Mail. His Highness Abdullah was the first movie produced by Mohanlal, under the banner of Pranavam Arts. His romantic comedy Kilukkam (1991) with Revathy is regarded as one of the most popular Malayalam films ever. His role in Bharatham as a Carnatic singer who is burdened by a jealous brother, earned him the National Award for Best Actor in 1991. Although not trained in classical dance, he portrayed a Bharatanatyam dancer in Kamaladalam(1992). He took help from his choreographer and his co-actors Vineeth and Monisha for enacting the dance scenes. Rajashilpi, Sadayam, Yoddha and Vietnam Colony were the other successful movies of Mohanlal in the same year. The 1993 drama Devaasuram, written by Ranjith and directed by I. V. Sasi, was one of Mohanlal's most successful films and is regarded as a cult classic. In 1994, Mohanlal starred along with Shobana and Suresh Gopi in Fazil's Manichitrathazhu in the lead role as a psychiatrist. The film was a critical and commercial success, and became one of the highest grossing Malayalam films. Spadikam was his major commercial success in 1995. Mohanlal won his third Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor and fifth Filmfare Award for Best Actor (Malayalam) for his portrayal as a young man who becomes a thug, estranged from his father, upon failing to meet the latter's high expectations.
Priyadarshan's Kaalapani, an epic film about the prisoners in Cellular Jail of Port Blair and Lohithadas's Kanmadam (1998) are among the notable commercial successes in the second half of the decade. In 1997, he played the lead role in Guru directed by Rajiv Anchal. The film was chosen as India's official entry to the Oscars to be considered for nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category for 1997.
Mohanlal's first non-Malayalam movie was the Tamil biographical film Iruvar directed by Mani Ratnam in which he starred opposite debutant Aishwarya Rai. The controversial film, in which Mohanlal depicted an actor who turns politician (based on M. G. Ramachandran), was a critical success and won many awards including Best Film award at the Belgrade International Film Festival and two National Film Awards.
In 1998, he produced and starred in Harikrishnans alongside Mammootty and Juhi Chawla. The film was a commercial success but was not received well by critics. The movie had two versions of climaxes which were screened in different regions based on whether Mohanlal or Mammootty was more popular there. This, however, became controversial when lawsuits were filed claiming that prints exhibited in Hindu-dominated areas showed Mohanlal marrying the heroine, whereas the ones in Muslim-dominated areas showed Mammootty marrying her.
Mohanlal depicted a Kathakali artist whose personal life is a tragedy in the 1999 Indo-French period drama Vanaprastham directed by Shaji N. Karun. Since Mohanlal was not trained in Kathakali – a dance-drama form indigenous to Kerala, he took tips from reputed Kathakali dancers to essay the role, for which he received his second National Film Award for Best Actor, fourth Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor and sixth Filmfare Award for Best Actor. It was also adjudged the best feature film of the year and won the best editing award at National Film Awards. The film was also elected for the competitive section at the Cannes Film Festival and several other international film festivals and won six Kerala State Film Awards.
Many movies made in this period built on Mohanlal's image as an invincible, larger-than-life hero. In 2000, Mohanlal starred in Narasimham playing a rogue with a good heart. It became the highest grossing movies in 2000. In the next two years, Mohanlal was typecast in similar larger-than-life action hero roles in movies like Ravanaprabhu, Praja, Onnaman, Thandavam and Chathurangam. These movies (except for Ravanaprabhu) were widely criticised for their repetitive plots, lewd dialogues, punch lines and male chauvinistic outlook. "The Narasimham hangover is terrifically strong and it has, at least for the moment, killed the prospects of good films. I don't see any other reason for the failure of well made female-oriented films like Mazha and Madhuranombarakkattu," wrote The New Indian Express.
In 2002, Mohanlal played the role of Sreenivasan IPS, a Mumbai police officer, in his first Bollywood movie, Company, which introduced him to the Hindi-speaking audience in India and for which he won the IIFA Star Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor. The movie dealt with the real life story of two underworld dons who ruled Mumbai played by Ajay Devgn and Vivek Oberoi. Mohanlal's performance was well received. The Hindu noted that the actor is "at his natural best" and "does not look stifled or anxious as other South Indian stars do when they appear in a Hindi movie for the first time". In a 2010 online poll by Hindifilmnews.com, Mohanal's performance in Company was chosen "The Finest Performance of a Bollywood Actor in the Last Decade (2001–2010)". He was No. 1 in the audiences' list and maintained No. 6 in the critics' list.
The following year, Mohanlal, trying to change his action hero image, returned to humour roles with Kilichundan Mampazham, Balettan, Hariharan Pillai Happy Aanu and Mr. Brahmachari. Kilichundan Mampazham, promoted as a comeback vehicle for the actor, received good reviews and box-office collection. Balettan, directed by V. M. Vinu, was also a commercial success. Mohanlal plays the role of Athanipparambil Balachandran, a bank employee always willing to lend a helping hand, who is forced to hide many secrets after his father's death leading to his family's mistrust. In 2004, Natturajavu and Mambazhakkalam were his notable commercial successes.
Mohanlal appeared in the 2005 black comedy Udayananu Tharam as an aspiring film director. Well received by the audience and the critics, the movie did well even in places where Malayalam films do not run in regular shows like Vadodara, Rajkot, Pune and Ahmedabad. In the same year, he appeared in director Blessy's second film Thanmathra, a film that tells the story of an individual suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The film received positive reviews and Mohanlal's performance was highly praised. Mohanlal won his fifth Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor and seventh Filmfare Award for Best Actor (Malayalam) for his performance in a difficult role; his character does not speak in the second-half of the movie.
In 2006, he worked with the director Sathyan Anthikkad, after nearly a decade, in the movie Rasathanthram, was a blockbuster & became one of the highest grossing Malayalam film of the decade. Mohanlal also acted in Kirtichakra by director Major Ravi, in which he plays the role of an Indian Army officer Major Mahadevan. The movie was shot in Kashmir. and was a huge blockbuster. A dubbed version of the movie was released in Tamil as Aran, but Mohanlal disassociated himself with the movie since his voice was not used, stating that "I prefer to speak for my role in the film." Mohanlal also acted in the sequels Kurukshetra (2008) and Kandahar (2010) in Major Mahadevan series. Mohanlal's character Major Mahadevan was highly acclaimed by the critics as well as the audience. In 2009 the Indian government conferred him with the honorary title of Lieutenant colonel from Indian Territorial Army considering his performance in the films Kirtichakra and Kurukshetra.
In 2007, Mohanlal won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in the movie Paradesi directed by P.T. Kunju Muhammed. The movie garnered positive reviews, with Sify.com noting that "Mohanlal is mesmerising and reinvents the idiom of acting once more with feeling." His July release Hallo became one of the biggest Malayalam hits in 2007. In August that year, he appeared in his second Bollywood movie, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, a remake of Bollywood's greatest hit Sholay. Mohanlal played the role played by Sanjeev Kumar in the original, against the criminal Babban Singh played by Amitabh Bachchan. However, the ambitious film was panned by critics, ending up as a huge flop at the box office. In 2009, Mohanlal appeared with Kamal Haasan in the Tamil movie Unnaipol Oruvan, was a success in Tamil box office. His last film in 2009 was Ividam Swargamanu, directed by Roshan Andrews, was a success in theatres.
Mohanlal acted with Amitabh Bachchan in Kandhahar. His first release of 2011 was the multi-starrer Christian Brothers released on 18 March 2011, it became the highest grossing Malayalam film in 2011. His next film was China Town. Another release was Pranayam, which was released on 31 August 2011. His next film, Snehaveedu, directed by Sathyan Anthikkadu, also became a hit. His last film of the year was Oru Marubhoomikkadha, directed by Priyadarshan. His first release in 2012 was Casanovva directed by Rosshan Andrrews and his next four films were B. Unnikrishnan's Grandmaster, Ranjith's Spirit and Joshiy's Run Baby Run which were followed by Karmayodha directed by Major Ravi. In 2013, his films were Lokpal directed by Joshiy, Red Wine directed by Salam Bappu, Ladies and Gentleman directed by Siddique, Geethaanjali directed by Priyadarsan. His last release of 2013 was Drishyam directed by Jeethu Joseph which is considered to be the one of the finest thrillers ever made. Drishyam is received rare reviews from the critics and Mohanlal's character is praised by the critics. Within a month of its release Drishyam became the highest grossing malayam movie. His first release of 2014 was Jilla in which he starred with Vijay directed by R. T. Neason.
Mohanlal has acted in over 320 Malayalam films and produced or co-produced over 35 films. His acting credits include some Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada films. He has acted in 4 professional plays. He has sung over 30 songs, most of them for the films he acted in.
Theatre and television
Mohanlal has acted in a few plays. He debuted on the stage as Karna (a character in the Indian epic Mahabharata) in Karnabharam, a Sanskrit play that was premiered in New Delhi as part of the National Theatre Festival directed by Kavalam Narayana Panicker. The play depicts Karna's mental agony a day before the Kurukshetra War, as he thinks about his past and his faith. He received a standing ovation each time the play was staged.
Kadhayattam was a presentation enacted by Mohanlal, depicting 10 unforgettable characters and situations selected from Malayalam literature. He has said that it is his offering to his mother tongue. The play was staged at Kottayam on 1 November 2003. The presentation was a fusion of stage acting, movie expression, sound and lighting techniques and music, conceived by film director T. K. Rajeev Kumar. Chayamukhi is Mohanlal's latest play, presented under the banner of Kalidasa Visual Magic, a production house promoted jointly by Mohanlal and Malayalam actor Mukesh. Mohanlal performed the role of Bheeman and Mukesh performed the role of Keechakan. The play was first staged at Thrissur on 12 March 2008. Mohanlal has also appeared in several television commercials and advertisemens including Malabar Gold ad with Hema Malini and Sania Mirza, MCR ad with Sarath Kumar, Oceanus ad, Manappuram Gold Loan ad with Akshay Kumar, etc.
Mohanlal was selected as the Goodwill Ambassador of Kerala State Athletics by the Kerala State Athletics Association. He is also the Goodwill Ambassador of AIDS awareness campaign by Kerala AIDS Control Society for which he acted in short films, and of Handloom textiles in Kerala. Other commercials, designed for Kerala markets, include LG, Tata Sky, Nerolac, Malabar Gold, Manappuram Finance, MCR textiles, Oceanus constructions, Mohanlal's Tastebuds, Vismayas Max animation academy, Hedge Equities and Pankaja Kasthuri.
Mohanlal has also started several business ventures related to film production and distribution, restaurants and packaged spices among others. He owns Maxlab Cinemas and Entertainments, a Malayalam film distribution company and Vismayas Max, a film post-production studio and college for dubbing artists at Kinfra Film and Video Park, Trivandrum. He has produced films under the banner Pranavam Arts. He owns many restaurants including a chain in Dubai called Mohanlal's Tastebuds, Travancore Court in Kochi and The Harbour Market in Bangalore. He is also a partner in Mohanlal's Tastebuds, a pickle and curry powder company. His other business ventures include Uni Royal Marine Exports – a Kozhikode-based seafood export company and Jose Thomas Performing Arts Centre Kochi. He is an independent director of Clenergen India Private Limited In 2009, Mohanlal, along with Priyadarshan, tried to bid for an Indian Premier League cricket team based in Kochi; they withdrew the bid on failing to source enough funds after a change in rules was introduced.
In the media
Mohanlal has been described in Indian media as one of the versatile actors and has been lauded for his natural acting style. Reader's Digest India described him in 2004 as "cinema's jack of all trades and master of many". He was also listed 80th in India's Most Trusted Survey conducted by Reader's Digest in 2010. Bollywood director Ram Gopal Varma has described Mohanlal as "one of the finest actors in the country who can slip into any role easily".
In 2003 on the 25th anniversary of Mohanlal's film career, a week-long celebration and a stage show was held in Thiruvananthapuram by his fans and friends. The proceeds from the stage show was donated to charity. Malayalam television channels, Asianet Television and Surya TV also held separate stage shows to celebrate the anniversary.
Mohanlal along with Mammootty, Dileep and Suresh Gopi have been accused in the media for causing a crisis in Malayalam cinema due to the "superstar" effect. In 2005 Mohanlal, Mammootty and Dileep controlled 95% of the box-office revenue of Malayalam cinema. These 3 artists have been criticized for their high remunerations, preference for formulaic content and larger-than-life male-oriented roles. Mohanlal fan clubs are present throughout Kerala; they help in creating a buzz around new releases and ensure a good opening in movie screens, a crucial factor in the success of the film. In 2007, prohibition activists in Kerala protested against Mohanlal for appearing in a surreptitious whiskey advertisement. Mahatma Gandhi National Foundation,a Kottayam-based NGO, accused the actor of violating laws that ban direct liquor advertisements. However, Mohanlal stated that it was unfair to single him out when so many other Indian actors were doing similar endorsements on television.
In 2010 Mohanlal was part of a public spat involving Malayalam writer and social-critic Sukumar Azhikode, actor Thilakan and Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA). The controversy erupted after Azhikode supported Thilakan's accusations that AMMA had imposed an 'undeclared ban' on him, suggesting that the leading stars of Malayalam should step aside since they are old, out-of-shape and charged exorbitant remunerations resulting in mounting losses for the industry. He added that Mohanlal was "a hypocrite who hid his advancing age to act with younger heroines". Mohanlal responded that Azhikode was having "hallucinations" and his remarks were "an aged-uncle's joke". This led to further personal remarks by Azhikode against Mohanlal. Other actors like Mammootty and Innocent defended Mohanlal and the media was, in general, critical of the comments by Azhikode. Azhikode filed a defamation suit against Mohanlal in August 2010. The forest department filed a case against Mohanlal for keeping an elephant tusk at his home under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Mohanlal lives with his family in Thevara, Kochi. He married Suchitra, daughter of Tamil film producer K. Balaji on 28 April 1988. Mohanlal later recalled in an interview that Suchitra used to send him cards because she wanted to marry him. Their horoscopes did not match at first, but later it was found that the astrologer erred. Mohanlal has two children – Pranav and Vismaya. Pranav has acted in a few movies, debuting in Mohanlal's film Onnaman. Mohanlal did not object when his son expressed a desire to act as "Kids may have many such ambitions. If we can help them realise something, what is the problem?" He owns a house at Ooty, a villa in Arabian Ranches and a flat in Burj Khalifa at Dubai. Mohanlal is a self-described foodie. He also enjoys melodious music. Mohanlal is a strong believer in destiny and spirituality. He likes to read Osho, J. Krishnamurti, Aurobindo and Ramana Maharshi. He has often stated that the turn of events in his life, including his film career, was accidental.
In 2008, while shooting for the movie Kurukshetra in which he plays the role of an Army officer, Mohanlal expressed interest to join Territorial Army of India as an officer. On 9 July 2008, he was formally inducted to the Territorial Army in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel by Army Chief Deepak Kapoor. Rules had to be amended to accommodate him as men above the age of 42 are not eligible to join the volunteer force.
Mohanlal was awarded an honorary doctorate by Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady in 2010. The citation praised Mohanlal as "an excellent performer after actor Sathyan in Malayalam film world, who essayed a rich variety of roles with equal ease and poise."
As escape artist
In 2008, Mohanlal underwent 18 months of escape artist training under Gopinath Muthukad. He had planned to perform a stunt called Burning Illusion in Thiruvananthapuram, however this was cancelled later on allegations that it is a dangerous act.
Awards and achievements
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