Dileep (born Gopalakrishnan Padmanabhan Pillai on 27 October 1968) is an Indian film actor and producer who works mainly in Malayalam cinema. Dileep began his career as a mimicry artist. He started his film career as an assistant director to Kamal. He rose into prominence as a lead actor during the early 2000s.
Dileep was born on 27 October 1968 in Aluva, Ernakulam district, Kerala to Padmanabha Pillai and Sarojam. He studied in S.N.V Sadanam School & Vidyadhiraja Vidya Bhavan High School, then joined Aluva U.C. College, and then transferred to Maharajas College, Ernakulam. His talent for acting was not known in school and college where he rarely won any accolades or merits. During 1985–1987 he tried to perform as a mimicry artist in UC College but was not successful. On joining Maharajas College for a B.A. in Economics in 1989, Gopalakrisnan started to take mimicry seriously. Mimicry was only getting its roots in Kerala at the time.
Dileep started his career in a troupe called Kalabhavan, working as a mimicry artist. Later he got a chance to be the assistant director to Kamal. While being an assistant director, Dileep did some small roles, debuting with just a small scene in Kamal's Ennodu Ishtam Koodaamo (1992). He was then brought up by actor Jayaram. He recommended his name to many directors. The film Manathe Kottaram (1994) gave him the first break and his screen name Dileep came into place through the character of the same name that he played. Other minor roles during this time includes Joshi's Sainyam (1993) and Sibi Malayil's Sindoora Rekha (1995).
By the mid-90s he started getting more prominent roles. He played a supporting role in Sathyan Anthikkad's Thooval Kottaram (1996) starring Jayaram and Manju Warrier in the lead. He also did another supporting role in the Jayaram starred film Swapna Lokathe Balabhaskaran (1996). The film Sallapam (1996) was a turning point in his career, with the commercial success of the film he started becoming noted as an actor. He plays the lead role in Kamal's Ee Puzhayum Kadannu (1996). In both Sallapam and Ee Puzhayum Kadannu he had co-star Manju Warrier whom he later married. He did a supporting role in I.V. Sasi's Varnapakittu (1997). It was playing Unnikrishnan in Rafi-Meccartin's Punjabi House (1998) that made him popular as a comic actor. Another interesting role of that time was Ommanakuttan in Meenathil Thalikettu (1998). His first Priyadarshan film was Megham (1999) starring Mammootty. A noted film by the end of the decade is Lal Jose's Chandranudikkunna Dikhil (1999) where he co-starred with Kavya Madhavan.
Some of his interesting comedy films in the early 2000s include Mr. Butler (2000), Darling Darling (2000), and Ee Parakkum Thalika (2001). A major commercial success was Rafi-Meccartin's Thenkasipattanam (2000), where he co-stars with Suresh Gopi and Lal. A. K. Lohithadas's Joker (2000) did very well as well, Dileep was noted for playing Babu. With the commercial success of such comedy-melodramas, Sibi Malayil's Ishtam (2001), Aku Akbar and Aby Jose's Mazhathullikkilukkam (2002), and Sasi Shankar's Kunjikkoonan (2002), Dileep had established himself as a commercially viable actor. He won the Kerala State Film Special Jury Award for playing Kunjan in Kunjikkoonan. It was playing Madhavan in Lal Jose's Meesa Madhavan (2002) that made a star out of Dileep. It was quite different from his usual slapstick roles. He later went on to play in Shafi's Kalyanaraman (2002), Jayaraj's Thilakkam (2003), and Johny Antony's C.I.D. Moosa (2003) (which he produced himself). He also produced and starred in T. V. Chandran's critically acclaimed Kadhavaseshan (2004). His comic timing and dialogue delivery in films made him popular among the Malayali audience. Though there is criticism from certain quarters that he has been typecast in slapstick comic roles. In 2004, he starred in Priyadarshan's Vettom.
His real life role as a effeminate man from the family of fishermen in Lal Jose's Chanthupottu (2005) won him the Special Jury Award of the Kerala State Film Awards. He fared as an action hero in Runway (2004), Kochirajavu (2005), Lion (2006), Chess (2006), and Don (2006). Critics and audiences alike have responded badly to his performance in Shaji Kailas's Don. He played the athlete Arjun in The Speed Track the debut of director Jayasurya. His second film with the acclaimed director Sathyan Anthikkad, Vinodayathra, was released in April 2007. It is one of the appreciated Malayalam movies of the year 2007. He also had the chance to play in Blessy's Calcutta News (2008), though this film wasn't as well received compared to Blessy's previous films.
Dileep produced Joshi's Twenty:20 (2008), which is considered to be the second highest-grossing film in Malayalam cinema, the highest being Pazhassiraja. In the year 2009, he had a good start. His film, Crazy Gopalan performed very well at the box-office compared to his other movie Colours which only did an average performance. Although the much awaited Moss N Cat directed by veteran director Fazil didn't perform that well at the box-office, his other film Passenger directed by debutant Ranjith Shankar, where he starred along with Mamta Mohandas and Sreenivasan, was a runaway success.His next film Swantham Lekhakan did an above average performance. His next film Body Guard directed by Siddique was a big critical and commercial success.He was well praised for his role of Jayakrishnan.His next film Aagathan directed by Kamal was also a critical and commercial success which made him to get two consecutive hits.Pappy Appacha,a Mammas film became third highest grosser of 2010.His production venture Malarvadi Arts Club directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan was also a run-away hit.His next film is Karyasthan,which is followed by multi-starrer Christian Brothers.He is currently shooting for Film Star with Kalabhavan Mani and the multi-starrer China Town.
Dileep is married to actress Manju Warrier. Their marriage created a controversy on whether married heroines have to leave the field or not as Manju Warrier was the leading female actress in the Malayalam cinema during the late 90s. She chose not to act after marriage. They got married on 20 October 1998 at the Aluva Srikrishna Temple. The couple have one daughter - Meenakshi.
Dileep also owns a restaurant named "Twenty:20 Food Mall" in Padma Cinemas at Kochi (MG Road) He also owns a House Boat in allapuzha. He lives at Deshom in Aluva.
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