|Born||Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair
21 May 1960 (age 55)
Elanthoor, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India
|Residence||Thevara, Ernakulam, Kerala|
|Alma mater||Mahatma Gandhi College, Trivandrum (B.Com.)
Model School, Trivandrum
|Occupation||Film actor, producer, distributor, playback singer, entrepreneur, theatre actor|
|Title||Padma Shri (2001)
Hon. Lieutenant colonel(2009)
Hon. Doctor of Letters (2010)
Hon. Blackbelt in Taekwondo (2012)
|Spouse(s)||Suchithra Balaji (1988–present)|
|Relatives||K. Balaji (father-in-law)
Suresh Balaji (brother-in-law)
Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair (born 21 May 1960) better known as Mohanlal is an Indian actor, film producer and occasional singer best known for his work in Malayalam films. Film critics, contemporaries, and other experts consider him as one of the finest actors in Indian cinema for his versatile and natural acting. Widely regarded as a cultural icon, he also holds a matinee idol status in the popular culture of Kerala.
Mohanlal made his acting debut in Thiranottam (1978), but the film got released only after 25 years due to censorship issues. His first film to be released was Manjil Virinja Pookkal (1980) in which he acted as the antagonist. He became a superstar with the commercial success of Rajavinte Makan (1986) which is widely considered as a cult classic in action movie genre. In a career spanning over three decades, Mohanlal has acted in over 300 Malayalam films in various genres. Mohanlal has also acted in Bollywood, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films. Of these, his notable roles were in Iruvar (1997), directed by Mani Ratnam, and Company (2002), directed by Ram Gopal Varma.
Mohanlal was elected as the most popular Keralite in an online poll conducted by CNN-IBN in 2006 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 towards Indian cinema. He has won four Indian National Film Awards – two Best Actor Awards, one Special Jury Award, and one Award for Best Film as producer; along with six Kerala State Film Awards for Best Actor and eight Filmfare Awards for Best Actor. In 2009, he became the first and the only actor to receive the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army of India and in 2010 he received an honorary doctorate from Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kerala.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Film career
- 3 Filmography
- 4 Other projects
- 5 In the media
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Awards and achievements
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair was born on 21 May 1960 in the Elanthoor village of Pathanamthitta district, Kerala, as the youngest child of Viswanathan Nair, a former bureaucrat and law secretary with the Kerala Government, and Santhakumari. He grew up at Mudavanmugal, Poojappura in Thiruvananthapuram. 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 for a stage play called Computer Boy in which he enacted as a ninety-year-old person.
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, Attakalasham, 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 Gomez. He also starred in the tragedy Thalavattom, playing Vinod, a young man who becomes mentally ill upon witnessing his girlfriend's death. In 1986, he played the role of Solomon in Padmarajan's Namukku Parkkan Munthirithopukal. Mohanlal's association with Padmarajan was very well noted because their films told stories which were well and truly ahead of their times and broke many conventional stereotypes prevailing during that time. 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 included 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 the same year, 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 1989, he starred in another one of Padmarajan's movies, Season.
In the early 1990s, Mohanlal acted in a number of 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. Mohanlal appeared n Bharathan's Thazhvaram in 1990. His romantic comedy Kilukkam (1991). 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. 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 movies. 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 in Fazil's cult classic Manichitrathazhu in the lead role as Sunny Joseph, a psychiatrist. Spadikam was a 1995 work. Mohanlal won his third Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor and fifth Filmfare Award for Best Actor (Malayalam) for his portrayal of Aadu Thoma, 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). 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. 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 won him the second National Award for Best Actor and was the first film that got him international recognition. The film was selected for the competitive section at the Cannes Film Festival and his performance was critically acclaimed. It also earned him his fourth Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor and sixth Filmfare Award for Best Actor.
In 2000, Mohanlal starred in Narasimham playing a rogue with a good heart. It became the highest grossing movie of all time. 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, Mohanlal'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.
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 in the movie Rasathanthram. 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. In 2009 the Indian government conferred him with the honorary title of Lieutenant colonel from Indian Territorial Army
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. Sify.com stated 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 the Bollywood film Sholay. Mohanlal played the role played by Sanjeev Kumar in the original.
In 2008 Mohanlal did the lead role in multi-star movie Twenty:20 and in 2009 Mohanlal appeared with Kamal Haasan in the Tamil movie Unnaipol Oruvan. His last film in 2009 was Ividam Swargamanu was directed by Roshan Andrews.
In 2010, he acted in five films, the first being Janakan a crime thriller which he co-starred with Suresh Gopi written by S. N Swamy, he played Adv. Surya Narayanan who encounters some runaway suspects came for justice. Alexander the Great directed by Murali Nagavally was a comical racy entertainer released in May. Oru Naal Varum directed by T. K Rajeev Kumar, scripted by Sreenivasan and produced by Maniyanpilla Raju, was a social satire about the corruption in India. It reunited the much-adored classic combo of Mohanlal-Sreenivasan onscreen. His next film was Shikkar a dark revenge thriller directed by M. Padmakumar, in which he played a lorry driver who is haunted by his past. The film topped at the Ramzan box-office. Followed in the end was Kandahar directed by Major Ravi, a war film based on the flight hijacking incident of Indian Airlines Flight 814 in 1999, Mohanlal reprised the role of Major Mahadevan in the film. It was the third installment in the Major Mahadevan film series, and the debut Malayalam film of Amitabh Bachan.
His first release of 2011 was the multi-starrer Christian Brothers an action drama directed by Joshiy and scripted by Udayakrishna-Siby K. Thomas duo, in which he co-starred with Suresh Gopi, Dileep and Sarath Kumar. Released on 18 March worldwide on 300 screens simultaneously in all releasing centres which was the largest release for a Malayalam film at that time. This racy entertainer was a commercial success and one of the top grossing Malayalam film of the year. The film's theme was similar to the 2008 film Twenty:20, in which the main cast and crew were also the same. His Vishu (April) release was China Town another multi-starrer he co-starred with Jayaram and Dileep was a comedy entertainer directed by Rafi Mecartin. Despite of the mixed reviews, the film ran over 100 days and became one of the highest grossing Malayalam of the year. He starred in Pranayam released on 31 August was an off-beat romantic drama directed by Blessy, which told a love story between three aged characters of Mohanlal, Anupam Kher, and Jayapradha. The film was highly acclaimed by the critics and Mohanlal's performance as Mathews was well appreciated. His next film, Snehaveedu, was directed by Sathyan Anthikkadu, which was a family movie in the background of a village in Palakkad. For the first time, yesterday's actress Sheela shared screen space with Mohanlal, she played the role of his mother. It is credited as Mohanlal's 300th film. The film became a decent hit. His last film of the year was Oru Marubhoomikkadha, directed by Priyadarshan, which was an action-comedy thriller entirely plotted in middle east. It marked the return of Priyadarshan-Mohanlal-Mukesh combo of the late 80s and 90s. While shooting in the Al Kateena deserts in Abu Dhabi, Canadian director James Cameron visited the sets for almost three hours and was very impressed with Mohanlal's acting skills and Priyan's use of limited crew. The film was a superhit at the Christmas-New year box office.
In 2012, he was seen in six films, his first release was the much hyped big-budget romantic thriller film Casanovva directed by Rosshan Andrrews and written by Bobby-Sanjay. He enacted the role of Casanova, a serial womaniser and the owner of Casanova's Eternal Spring - an international chain of flower boutiques. Later he appeared in a cameo role in the Bollywood movie Tezz released on 27 April directed by Priyadarshan. His next film was B. Unnikrishnan's directorial Grandmaster was a Neo-noir crime thriller, the story of a cop who is forced to investigate a series of murders. It created a new cinematic grammar for crime thrillers in Malayalam. The film was much acclaimed by critics, the critics remarked it as a well crafted thriller and was described as one of the best investigation thrillers in Malayalam. Mohanlal's well tempered, calm and subdued acting was appreciated by the critics. It is the first Malayalam film to be released through Netflix online video streaming by UTV Motion Pictures in the United States and Canada. Followed up was Spirit directed by Ranjith which centered on the increasing habits of alcoholism in Kerala. The film was exempted from entertainment tax by the state government for creating an awareness on social issues faced by the society. The film completed 125 days theatrical run in Kerala and became a commercial success also. Run Baby Run was released during the Onam festival, a comedy thriller film directed by Joshiy, featured news media as the background. The film was heavily appreciated by the critics, remarking it as the example for a well crafted gripping thriller. It became one among the highest grossing Malayalam film of the year. The year ended with Christmas release Karmayodha directed by Major Ravi, an action thriller in which he appeared as Mad Maddy an encounter specialist who makes decisions on the spot who is assigned to investigate the missing of a teenage school girl in Mumbai. The film dealt with the discrimination against women.
2013 was a remarkable year for Mohanlal, it was the year in which the all-time blockbuster of Malayalam film Drishyam released. His first film of the year was Lokpal, a vigilante thriller in which he played a vigilante nicknamed "Lokpal". It was directed by Joshiy and written by S. N. Swamy. Red Wine directed by Salam Bappu, was a non-linear investigation thriller based on a political murder. Ladies and Gentleman directed by Siddique was a romantic comedy film on the backdrop of IT companies. Geethaanjali, a horror thriller directed by Priyadarsan was a spin-off of Malayalam classic film Manichitrathazhu, he reprised the role of Dr. Sunny from the original. His last release was Drishyam directed by Jeethu Joseph.
In 2014, he starred in Tamil action-drama Jilla alongside Vijay, directed by R. T. Neason and produced by R. B. Choudary. The film released over 1150 screens worldwide with 207 screens in Kerala alone, which was the largest release for a film in Kerala in any language. And earned a ₹27.3 million (US$410,000) gross in its first day of release in Kerala, which is the highest single day earnings for any film across all languages in the state at that time. It completed 100 days theatrical run in few theatres in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Mohanlal's first Malayalam release of 2014 was Mr. Fraud, a heist film directed by B. Unnikrishnan. In the next project, he appeared in an extended cameo role in Koothara, a coming-of-age adventurous mystery film set in an untold period. Mohanlal played a mysterious character, who at the end of the film revealed as a merman. It was an experimental film directed by Srinath Rajendran and produced by Marikar Films. His next venture was a comical political satire film Peruchazhi written and directed by Indian-American film director Arun Vaidyanathan, came with an unfamiliar storytelling in Malayalam film industry, film discussed the politics of India and the US, the largest democracies of the world. It's about a young political kingmaker who is assigned to make a governor candidate win the California state gubernatorial elections, there he uses the Indian standard political gimmicks to win the election. The film goes in a logicless narrating style which was foreign to Keralites, even though pictured with an onscreen starting tagline to "keep logic away", the film got undigested among Malayali audience who likes to watch classic political satire films like Sandesham.
His first release in 2015 was the Kannada version of the Malayalam-Kannada bilingual film Mythri. His performance as the revenge seeking DRDO scientist Mahadev was highly appreciated by the critics. His first Malayalam release was the cameo appearance in Rasam. Ennum Eppozhum directed by Sathyan Anthikad was his first film in the year in leading role alongside Manju Warrier. The film was a success at the box office. Followed by the action thriller Lailaa O Lailaa directed by Joshiy failed both critically and commercially. His next was Ranjith directorial thriller Loham. Though it met with the mixed critical response, the film was a commercial success. The revenge thriller Kanal was released the next. It also received mixed reviews from critics.
Mohanlal has acted in over 320 Malayalam films and produced or co-produced over 35 films. His acting credits also 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.
Kadhayattam was a presentation enacted by Mohanlal, depicting 10 characters and situations selected from Malayalam literature. The play was staged at Kottayam on 1 November 2003. Chayamukhi written and directed by Prasanth Narayanan was 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.
In 2014 Mohanlal and music director Ratheesh Vegha formed the band 'Lalisom - The Lal Effect.' The band's maiden show was at the 2015 National Games of India. The band drew flak from the social media for charging an amount of ₹1.60 crore for its first show, later the show was also criticised for poor performance which included lip-syncing to a previously recorded audio tape. Following the criticism, Mohanlal announced that he would be returning the cost of Rs 1.60 crore to Government of Kerala. But the government rejected Mohanlal's offer saying that the heat generated by the event was quite regrettable and the Government’s morality would not allow it to take back the money. The government also said, Mohanlal had not personally benefitted from the amount (Rs 1.63 crore) which he received since it was meant to meet the stage expenses and remuneration for the artistes. But Mohanlal didn't take back the money he dispatched. Many eminent personalities from film industry and apart came to support Mohanlal. The band's next performance will involve nearly 40 hit songs of Mohanlal movies using hologram technology.
Goodwil and brand ambassador
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.
Business and other ventures
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.
As an escape artist
In 2008, Mohanlal underwent 18 months of escape artist training under famous magician Gopinath Muthukad. He had planned to perform a stunt called 'Burning Illusion' in Thiruvananthapuram. However, due to pressure from various quarters including his fans, the act was cancelled later on criticisms and allegations that it is extremely dangerous. The event was jointly organised by the Kerala Police, State Tourism Department and the Kerala State Youth Welfare Board. The open-air "fire escape" stunt, which should have held at the Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium, was a curtain raiser for the four-day 'Vismayam 2008', an international convention in which nearly 1,000 magicians from across the world would take part. The meet started on 1 May. In the stunt, he will be handcuffed and the whole body wrapped in chains with the keys in the hands of dignitaries watching the show. The actor would then be put inside a box, which will be thrown into a ball of fire from where he has to escape.
The news shocked and split the magician community in Kerala. Before the commencement of the act internationally acclaimed magician Samraj advised Mohanlal against performing the daredevil stunt. Samraj approached the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) with a memorandum signed by 300 magicians, requesting it to urge Mohanlal to withdraw. AMMA president Innocent requested Mohanlal to withdraw from stunt and endangering himself: Mohanlal is a pillar of the Malayalam film industry; he has no right to go and do such a risky show. The stunt was also to inspire the youth to overcome debacles in life with sheer determination. Briefing about the act in the press conference organised in Trivandrum, Mohanlal said "The risk factor is fifty-fifty for the escape act. I hope that I can make it with the blessings of all." About the objective of the act, the Merlin Award winning magician Gopinath Muthukad said "Counted as one of the most dangerous acts, the 'Burning Illusion' will find Mohanlal inspiring the youth to overcome debacles in life with sheer determination. He has been practising for a while to perfect it."
In 2014, the actor who is immensely passionate about the art form decided to perform a risk-free item for the inaugural function of Magic Planet, a magic-themed complex at Kinfra Film and Video Park Kazhakoottam, Trivandrum. It is the first Magic Mansion of the world. It is a project of the Academy of Magical Sciences, founded by his teacher the internationally acclaimed magician Gopinath Muthukad. The function was inaugurated by chief minister along with other supreme leaders and the first magic performance was done by Mohanlal. In the trick, he lifted a girl on the air. Chief minister Oommen Chandy, opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan and other prominent personals with the presence of high-profile international magicians were present at the function.
In the media
Mohanlal has been described in Indian media as one of the most 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 were held in Thiruvananthapuram by his fans and friends. The proceeds from the stage show were 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. The case was first dismissed by a local Court in Perumbavur and later by the High Court of Kerala in 2012. An individual named Pramod of Thrissur had filed a petition that the officials had gone out of the way to favour Mohanlal. It was alleged in the petition that actor and former minister K B Ganesh Kumar and forest officials were trying to save Mohanlal and overthrow the case related to the discovery of four elephant tusks at the actor's house during an income tax raid. The petitioner went to Kerala HC, but the Court dismissed the case and observed that "there was nothing to show that the State government or its officers had acted in favour of the actor. Besides, the petitioner had not been able to point out any illegality or irregularities in the investigation."  "Mohanlal's lawyer senior advocate M K Damodaran informed the court that police are investigating the case and the final report has not yet been submitted. When the lawyer of the plaintiff mentioned that the tusks are still kept in Lal’s house, the defendant’s lawyer explained that a receipt for the tusks has been obtained and is kept with Mohanlal". Dismissing the petition, the court criticized the petitioner for approaching the high court even without enquiring about the present status of the case. "There is no public interest in the petition, but it is aimed only at publicity", the court had held.
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. His elder brother Pyarelal died in the year 2000, during a military exercise.
Awards and achievements
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 then 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. He is the first and only Indian actor to get the title
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 the world, who played a rich variety of roles with equal ease and poise."
In 2012, he was bestowed with the title of Black belt in Korean martial art Taekwondo from Kukkiwon, the world Taekwondo Headquarters, Seoul, South Korea. He is the first and only South Indian actor to get the title.
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He won an IIFA award for the best supporting actor for Company
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