Mohanlal Vishwanathan Nair (born 21 May 1960), known mononymously as Mohanlal is an internationally acclaimed Indian film actor and producer who works mainly in Malayalam cinema. A four-time National Award winner, he has won two Best Actor Awards, one Special Jury Award, one Award for Best Film (as producer) and six Best Actor Kerala state awards, the most times by any actor. In 2001 the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri for his contributions to Indian cinema. In 2009, he was granted the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the Territorial Army which was the first instance in the history of Indian Cinema of an actor being conferred an Army rank. In 2010, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit bestowed an honorary doctorate upon him.
Mohanlal was born in Elanthur in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, to Vishwanathan Nair, a lawyer and government employee and Santhakumari. The family later shifted to Mudavanmugal in Thiruvananthapuram, which was the house of his mother. He attended the Mudavanmukal LP school and later enrolled in the Model School, Thiruvananthapuram. An average student at school, he was drawn in to the world of arts; he used to participate in school-plays. In the sixth grade, the young Mohanlal was chosen the best actor in his school, an award that was usually bagged by tenth graders.
He attended Mahatma Gandhi College in Thiruvananthapuram for his bachelor's degree. He continued his association with acting and won numerous best actor awards. It was here that he met a group of fellow-students, who were passionate about theatre and feature films. They were instrumental in getting him his first breakthrough and some of them, notably Priyadarshan, M.G.Sreekumar and Maniyanpilla Raju, went on to become popular movie directors or actors or singers.
Lal's first film was "Thiranottam" (1978). The film ran into trouble with the Censor Board and was only released in 1 center. His breakthrough came in 1980, when he was selected for the role of the antagonist, in Manjil Virinja Pookkal, which was a blockbuster hit. He played roles of gradually increasing importance in a number of movies in the following years. In the year 1983, he was credited in more than 25 feature films. Uyarangalil, a story of cheating and deception, written by noted script-writer M.T.Vasudevan Nair and directed by I. V. Sasi was the highlight of this period. He then expanded into comic roles in his director-friend and college mate Priyadarshan's debut Poochakkoru Mookkuthi.
The period (1986–1995) is widely regarded as the golden age of Malayalam cinema with films characterised by detailed screenplays, lucid narration and fresh ideas narrowing the gap between art and commercial films. As a young talent on the rise, Mohanlal obtained roles that gave him ample scope to display a wide range of emotions and started some very fruitful associations with many of the better directors and writers in Malayalam cinema.
1986 was one of his best years. Sathyan Anthikad's T.P.Balagopalan M.A got him his first Kerala State award for best actor. His role of an underworld don in Rajavinte Makan saw the emergence of Mohanlal as the superstar of Malayalam cinema.Rajavinte Makan was the block buster movie of the year 1986. In the same year, he played an asylum inmate in Thalavattom, a harassed house-owner in Sanmanassullavarku Samadhanam, a journalist in M.T.Vasudevan Nair's Panchagni, a farm owner in love in Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal and an unemployed youth forced to become a Goorkha in Gandhi Nagar 2nd street.
His association with the writer-director combination of Sreenivasan and Sathyan Anthikkad, who excelled in making socially hard-hitting satires, resulted in films such as Nadodikkattu, in which he played an unemployed youth and Varavelpu, in which he played a Gulf returnee who is welcomed back home to greedy relatives and a state with a hostile climate for entrepreneurs. Director Priyadarshan's musical comedies, notably Chithram and Kilukkam had him playing the typical Indian romantic hero and increased his popularity among the teenage movie-goers.
Mohanlal portrayed a real-life character in Devaasuram (1993)directed by I.V. Sasi and written by Renjith, the film went on to become a hit and a cult classic Thoovanathumbikal 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. Amrithamgamaya was about a man who ends up at the house of a boy whom he had unknowingly killed in college during a ragging session. Thazhvaram was another notable film of this period.
The combination of writer Lohitha Das and director Sibi Malayil is considered to have produced some of his most haunting roles. His role of Sethu Madhavan, who dreams of becoming a police officer but ends up as a criminal in the film Kireedam earned him a Special Jury award. Another role of a classical singer who is burdened by the jealousy and final death of his singer brother in Bharatham helped him bag the Best Actor National Award the following year.
The 90s saw him continuing his success with more entertainers like His Highness Abdullah, where he played a Muslim disguised as a Namboodiri to assassinate a royal. His other notable commercial movies during this period such as Midhunam, Minnaram, Thenmavin kombath continued the tradition of the 80s with neat well-written scripts and a rich set of characters. Devaasuram, written by Ranjith and directed by I. V. Sasi, set in the feudal atmosphere of central Kerala, was particularly noted for Mohanlal's portrayal of a proud, rich and brash young man who is slowly humbled by a chain of events. Director Bhadran's Spadikam became a cult classic for the revolutionary way in which the stunts were picturised. Critically acclaimed films were few in number during this period and were mostly semi-entertainers like Manichitrathazhu, which had the female lead Shobhana bagging a National award for best actress.
This was also a period when father-son duo of Thilakan and Mohanlal had a great impact on malayalam film industry and especially on fans of both actors.
During this period of his career, film makers cashed in on the immense popularity that Mohanlal enjoyed in Kerala by portraying him as an invincible larger-than-life hero in movies. Movies like Aaram Thamburan, Narasimham, Ravanaprabhu and Naran used this image of his to great effect and became blockbusters. After their initial novelty, these films faced criticism from many quarters over their lack of realism and for creating movies around Mohanlal. Priyadarshan's Kalapani (an account of India's freedom struggle against the British that focused on the Cellular prisons of Andaman islands) and Lohithadas's Kanmadam were some of his notable films during the late 1990s.
It was at this time that Mohanlal started getting noticed outside the Malayalam-speaking world. He acted in his first non-Malayalam movie when popular director Mani Ratnam roped him in for the Tamil film Iruvar. It had Mohanlal playing MGR, a cult figure in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu. The Indo-French production, Vaanaprastham, in which he played the role of a Kathakali dance artist with an identity crisis, 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.
In 2002, Mohanlal acted in his first Bollywood movie, Company, which introduced him to the wider Hindi-speaking audience in India. It was a critical and commercial hit. He won the IIFA award, Star Screen Award for best supporting actor for this role. In 2006, the film Thanmathra ("Molecule"), won him the Kerala State Award for Best Actor for portraying a person affected by Alzheimer's disease. His second Bollywood movie, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, was the remake of the 1975 blockbuster movie Sholay, in which he played the character of the inspector played by Sanjeev Kumar in the original. Mohanlal won the 2007 Kerala State Award for Best Actor for his performance as Valiakathu Moosa in the movie Paradesi. In 2009, Mohanlal acted with Kamal Hassan in a Tamil movie called Unnaipol Oruvan. He started the year 2010 with the realistic family entertainer Evidam Swargamanu, directed by Roshan Andrews, and the comedy film Alexander the Great, directed by Murali Nagavalli.
Like most other Indian stars, Mohanlal does not have a theatre background. However, he 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. 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 unforgettable characters and situations selected from Malayalam literature. He has said that it is his offering to his mother tongue. 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 Thrichur on 12 March 2008.
Padmasree Bharath Mohanlal is a Malayalam Movie star who has won accolades from both the commercial and parallel film industry.
Including some rare known facts about the star:
Born on 21st May 1960
Height: 1.52 m
Full Name: Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair
Native Place: Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India
Actor, Producer, Singer, Business Man
Married in 1988
First film in 1978
Mohanlal has enthralled filmgoers in Kerala in more than 300 movies till now.
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