Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair, popularly known as Mohanlal or Lalettan is a multi-talented actor from Malayalam film industry. He first appeared in front of the camera for the unreleased film ‘Thiranottam’ in 1978. Later, Mohanlal made his debut by playing a negative character in Fazil's ‘Manjil Virinja Pookkal’ in 1980. In a still active career spanning almost four decades, Mohanlal has acted in over 320 films in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. He was also the lead actor in Pulimurugan (2016), the first Malayalam movie to gross Rs. 100 Crores.
Mohanlal Early Life
Born on 21st May 1960, Mohanlal was the youngest child to Adv. Viswanathan Nair and Santhakumari. According to his mother, Mohanlal was a very calm and quite child. Though born in Elanthur in Pathanamthitta, lal did his schooling in Trivandrum which is his mother’s native place. This move from his birthplace to his mother’s home was because of his father’s job in the secretariat. The actor started his student life in Mudavanmukal Lover Primary School and later shifted to Government Model Boys Higher Secondary School. He completed his education from M.G. College, Trivandrum, in B.Com. Before entering into movies, in 1977, he was a state level champion in boxing.
Mohanlal Family Wife Son Daughter Father Mother Son
Born on 21st May 1960, Mohanlal was the youngest child to Vishwanathan Nair and Santhakumari. Mohanlal got married to Suchitra on 28th April 1988. Suchitra is the daughter of renowned film producer Late K. Balaji. At a later time, Mohanlal in an interview opened up that Suchitra used to send him cards expressing her wish to marry him. The couple has a daughter and a son, Vismaya and Pranav.
Debut and Malayalam films:
Mohanlal started to show his acting talent from the age of 12 itself. The event was an acting competition in his school. He was studying in sixth grade while his competitors were mostly from 10th grade. But these elders were no match to lal’s acting skills and he won the ‘Best Actor Award’ in the competition, his first award! This victory made him popular in the school and he started to think seriously about cinema. Later in the initial period of his college years, he became friends with fellow students who share his dream and passion for films and theater. This friendship with Suresh Kumar, Unni, Priyadarsan, S Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Maniyapilla Raju and others led to the formation of a production company named ‘Bharath Cine Group’. And the friends started shooting for ‘Thiranottam’, the first film which brought Mohanlal in front of the camera. The shooting started on 3rd September 1978 and locations were the places in and around the houses of Mohanlal and Suresh Kumar. The film was about the life of a mentally challenged servant boy named Kuttappan. Though the film was completed, it was not released then. The film ran into trouble with the censor board at that time. But later in 2005, on the occasion of Mohanlal’s 25 years in cinema, the film was released in just one theater.
But this road-block wasn’t enough to deter the actor in Mohanlal. He continued to spirit up his dreams of cinema. During those days, he with his friends used to visit Chennai in search for acting jobs. While they were on one such visit, Suresh Kumar came across an ad for a new face. The ad was from the leading production house in Malayalam, ‘Navodaya Studios’. He asked Mohanlal to reply to the ad but Lal was reluctant because he was not pleased enough with his own photograph. But knowing the talent of the actor in him, Suresh went ahead and without informing Lal replied to the advertisement. The production house replied back and thus Mohanlal entered for his first screen test. The panel for the screen test included the director Fazil, Sibi Malayil, Navodaya Appachan, Jijo Appachan and other leading technicians. Though two members in the panel weren’t satisfied with him, Fazil and Jijo were impressed. Thus, he landed in the role of Narendran, the antagonist in Fazil’s ‘Manjil Virinja Pookal’. The film was released on the Christmas day of 1980. Years later, in an interview to Reader’s Digest, Mohanlal opined that his young looks might have been what went in his favor.
The film opened to a sleepy initial pull but later on, credited to the brilliant performances by Mohanlal and Shankar, became a rage among youngsters and completed 200 days of theater run, thus making it a grand success. Though he was the villain in the movie, Lal received a lot of audience attention and critics rated him high for his ease of performance. Thus at the age of 20, Mohanlal officially started his journey in the world 24 frames Being introduced by a hit-making director under the biggest production house in Malayalam with an important role and well received by both audience and the critics, this was the sort of opening any actor would dream to have. The next year he got eight films, of which most of them had him cast in a negative role. Still his performances were always noted. He later told that he never had a fear of being type-casted because his passion was acting and acting only. The villainous characters got a break with Malayalam’s first 70 mm film ‘Padayottam’. This film directed by Jijo Punnoose was loosely based on the classic novel ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ and Mohanlal portrayed a positive character named Kannan. The movie also had the other ‘Big M’ of the Malayalam industry, Mammootty in it. Till 1984 he was doing both positive and negative roles as lead and supporting cast but never tried his hand in comedy genre. It was his friend and now famous director Priyadarshan’s debut movie ‘Poochakkoru Mookkuthi’ which proved to the audience that even comedy roles are safe in his hands. In the first five years of his career, Mohanlal acted in almost 97 films with many giving him critical acclamation. One of the famous among those is I.V. Sasi’s ‘Uyarangalil’ in which he plays the role of Jayarajan, an evil yet charming plantation manger. This was also his first proper anti-hero character. In 1985, for the movie ‘Onnanam Kunnil Oradi Kunnil’ Mohanlal got his first credit as a playback singer. The song was "Sindhoora Megham", for which the music was composed by Raghu Kumar.
The biggest turning point in his career was the year 1986. Altogether 34 films of Mohanlal were released that year, which means a new film in theater in roughly every 10 days. He had films of all the leading and acclaimed directors in this year, including the likes of Padmarajan, Bhadran, Sreekumaran Thampi and others. This year showcased the versatility of the actor, as he was part of almost all sorts of genres. ‘Ninnishtam Ennishtam’, ‘Panchagni’, ‘Thalavattam’, ‘Nammuk Parkkan Munthirithopukal’, ‘Yuvajanotsavam’ are a few of the most memorable films from 1986. Importance of this years in his career is that Sathyan Anthikad’s ‘T.P. Balagopalan MA’ gave him the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor. This was also the year in which he was adjourned with the ‘Super Star Status’, for the success for Thampi Kannamthanam’s ‘Rajavinte Makan’. The film, in which he plays the character of Underworld Don Vincent Gomez, racked the Box Office. Many considered Vincent Gomez as the reply to Amitabh’s ‘Don’. In an interview the director recalled that no one expected the movie and the character to achieve a cult status but it did. First national recognition for the actor came with ‘Kireedam’ in 1989. He received the Special Jury award in that year’s National Film Awards. Later on Mohanlal began to reduce the number of films by giving more time to each. In fact, after 1991, he hasn’t acted in more than nine films in a calendar year and the in recent takes an average of 3-4 movies a year. He also started giving more focus on films from other languages.
In the second decade of his career, he began to be more selective in movies and started to venture into other south Indian language and Hindi. This decade also gave him few of the everlasting characters of his career. In 1991 he won his first National Award for Best Actor for ‘Bharatham’ directed by Sibi Malayil and produced by the actor himself. ‘Devasuram’ by I.V. Sasi in 1993 proved to be a big game changer for the actor. His portrayal of Mangalasheri Neelakandan, the protagonist with an anti-hero image, got engraved into the minds of viewers. In 1995 came ‘Sphadikam’ directed by Bhadran. This was another career defining movie for the actor. The character of Thomas Chacko aka ‘Aadu Thoma’ became evergreen. The character’s trademark fighting style of beating the opponent after covering their face with his dhoti became a rage among the audience. Also was the father-son relation in the movie. Gifted actor Thilakan playing the role of his father, proved that Thilakan-Mohanlal as father-son on the screen guarantees an instantaneous hit. Another landmark film for him in this decade was Shaji Kailas directed ‘Aaram Thamburan’ in 1997. Mohanlal played the role of ‘Jagannadhan’, a mafia henchman also became popular amongst the audience and his fans.
Another important film in his second decade of acting was Rajiv Anchal’s ‘Guru’ in 1997. ‘Guru’ falls under the special genre of spiritual fantasy and India’s official nomination to Oscars. The same year saw Shaji Kailas directed ‘Aaram Thamburan’, which was one of his biggest commercial success of the decade. In 1999, Mohanlal produced and acted in ‘Vanaprastham’ directed by Shaji N. Karun. The film went on to become his most successful film, in terms of awards and recognition. ‘Vanaprastham’ won the Golden Lotus for the Best Feature Film in that year’s National Film Awards and also gave Mohanlal his second National Award for Best Actor. The film went on to be screened in the Cannes Film Festival under the ‘Un Certain Regard’ category and is considered as one of the best movies on the lives of dancers. Mohanlal took special lessons to do the lead role of Kunjikuttan, a kathakali dancer.
Another trend setting and evergreen movie came in the millennium year. ‘Narasimham’ again directed by Shaji Kailas had almost the same cast and crew of ‘Aaram Thamburan’. This movie broke all the collection records till date and paved way to a certain type of character which had shades of an anti-hero in it. This character style was followed by many actors and directors in subsequent movies till date. Finally, in 2001, Mohanlal fulfilled his long time desire to play in a theater drama. He played the role of mythological character Karna in the play ‘Karnabharam’ which was directed by famous poet and theater artist Kavalam Narayana Panicker. The same year Indian government honored him with ‘Padma Shri’. Another important and most acclaimed character of his in the third decade of his career was in 2005 film ‘Thanmatra’. Directed by Blessy, Mohanlal played the role of a family man affected with Alzheimer's disease. The film not only fetched him the State award for Best Actor but also earned him an honorary award from Indian Medical Association. Major Ravi’s first directorial venture, ‘Keerthichakra’ had the actor in the title role of Major Mahadevan. This movie became a big hit as everyone loved Mohanlal in the army uniform. The movie’s success leads to Mohanlal’s first trilogy, of ‘Keerthichakra’ in 2006, ‘Kurukshetra’ in 2008 and ‘Kandahar’ in 2010.
Another noted performance from the actor came in 2007 film ‘Paradesi’ written and directed by P. T. Kunju Muhammed. The story was about a man who left India, during the period of Independence, in search of a job and ended in Pakistan. When he returned to India in his old age, Indian authorities doesn’t allow him to stay saying he is a Pakistan citizen while Pakistan rejects to accept him saying he is Indian citizen. Thus he turns to be a man with no nation. This performance by Lal made him the recipient of lot of awards and critical acclamation. In the recent years he again made history in Malayalam cinema with ‘Drishyam’. This 2013 family thriller by Jeethu Joseph was the first Malayalam film to collect Rs. 50 at Box Office. The movie went on to collect Rs. 76 crore in its total theater run. ‘Drishyam’ is considered as a benchmark for the Malayalam cinema in terms of collection. The film is also one of the biggest success of this decade in Malayalam films. In 2015, ‘Mythri’ Kannada-Malayalam bilingual film made him receive a lot of critical appreciation. The film had Lal in the role of DRDO scientist Mahadev, who was on the path of vengeance.
In 2016, Mohanlal didn't had even a single release in the first half of the year. But now, this seems like the calm before the storm. The first movie to release of Mohanlal in 2016 was Vismayam which was a trilingual, originally made in Telugu. And then came the movie that changed the whole of the business concept of Malayalam film Industry. Mollywood's biggest hit till date, Pulimurugan was released on October 07, which was also the biggest release for Mohanlal in his so far career. The movie created a phenomenon beyond description in theaters and made a clean sweep in theaters, not just in Kerala but across the globe. Pulimurugan became a rage and showed the world that a Malayalam cinema made on a very limited budget of around Rs. 25 crores, can not just make its way to the 100 Cr Club but also gross around Rs. 150 Cr. at the global box office. This movie just single handedly changed the way the world saw Malayalam movies and also gave a big boost for filmmakers to take risk and bring out something that is really big on canvas. In his career so far, Mohanlal has acted in over 320 movies and about 30 songs are credited to him as playback singer.
Though he made a friendly appearance in Priyadarshan’s 1991 Tamil movie ‘Gopura Vasalile’, his first proper Tamil film was Mani Ratnam’s ‘Iruvar’ in 1997. Aishwarya Rai was the female lead and this was her debut film. ‘Iruvar’ was a big success and came at a time when the actor was at peak of his popularity and giving back-to-back brilliant performances. Another noted performance by the actor in Tamil came in 2009 when he was casted along Kamal Hassan in ‘Unnaipol Oruvan’. The film was the remake of Bollywood black horse movie ‘A Wednesday’ and Mohanlal played the character of Chennai city Police Commissioner Raghavan Maraar. The movie was a big entertainer for the fans as well as the audience as two of giants of South Indian film industry came together. In 2014, Mohanlal teamed up with Vijay for ‘Jilla’ directed by R. T. Neason. The mass masala entertainer was a success at the box office and collected more than 85 crores from the theater run. In total Mohanlal has five Tamil movies in his career.
He made his first appearance in Telugu through ‘Gandeevam’ in 1994, which was directed by Priyadarshan. His next Telugu project came after more than 20 years. ‘Manamantha’ is a 2016 release which is a tri-lingual film in which the actor is paired with Gauthami and is titled as ‘Vismayam’ in Malayalam and ‘Namadhu’ in Tamil. Another Telugu movie is 2016 release ‘Janatha Garage’ directed by Koratala Siva and has NTR Jr. in the lead.
Mohanlal’s first Kannada movie was in 2004. ‘Love’ directed by Rajendra Singh Babu had the actor in an extended cameo role. His second movie was B. M. Giriraj directed ‘Mythri’ which was released in 2015. The movie also had Mohanlal in an extended cameo as a revenge seeking DRDO Scientist Mahadev Godke. This was very much praised by the critics.
His entry into Bollywood was in 2002 with Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Company’. The role of Mumbai Police Commissioner Sreenivasan IPS fetched him IIFA and Star Screen Award for best-supporting actor. His second Hindi movie was also with Ram Gopal Varma in 2007. ‘Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag’ had him as Inspector Narasimha. The movie turned out to be a disaster at the box office. Mohanlal’s third film was with his friend and one of the top directors in Bollywood, Priyadarshan. 2012 release ‘Tezz’ had him in the role of Chief Inspector Shivan Menon.
His longtime dream of being part of a theater play full filled in 2001 with Kavalam Naraina Panicker’s ‘Karnabharam’ in which he played the role of Mahabharat character Karna. The play was in Sanskrit. His first Malayalam play was in 2003 in T.K. Rajeev Kumar’s ‘Kadhayattam’. This play had Mohanlal portraying 10 different characters. The actor again donned the role of a mythological character in 2008 for Prashanth Narayanan’s ‘Chayamukhi’. In this play, he was Bhima, one of the five brothers among Pandavas from Mahabharat. He was again seen on the stage when T.K. Rajeev Kumar re-created Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ into Malayalam in 2009. He was ‘Prospero’, the protagonist, in the play. His latest appearance in a theater play was in 2010 when he again teamed up with Kavalam Narayana Panicker for Vikramōrvaśīyam, a Sanskrit play. This was the re-creation of Kalidasa’s play which tells the love story between King Pururavas and Uruvashi, a nymph. Mohanlal enacted the role of King Pururavas.
Mohanlal was first introduced as a playback singer for the movie ‘Onnamkunnil Oradikunnil’ in 1985. He sang the song ‘Sindhoora Megham’ composed by Reghu Kumar. He has been credited as playback singer in 29 films and eight albums. His most famous songs are M.G. Radhakrishnan composed ‘Kaithapoovin’ from ‘Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu’ (1999), Mohan Sitara composed ‘Ithaloornnu Veena’ from ‘Thanmathra’ (2005) and Ratheesh Vegha composed ‘Attumanal Payayil’ from Run Baby Run (2012).
After their first company ‘Bharath Cine Group’, which only produced his debut movie ‘Thiranottam’, Mohanlal joined hands with I.V. Sasi, Seema and others to form ‘Casino Films’. The first production under this banner was ‘Adiyozhukkukal’ in 1984, directed by I.V. Sasi and had him along with Mammootty in the lead roles. Casino Films produced six films among which ‘Gandhi Nagar 2nd Street’ (1986) and ‘Nadodikkattu’ (1987) were the most commercially successful ones. The last film under this banner was Mohanlal starrer ‘The Prince’ in 1996. In 1986 he co-founded ‘Cheers Films’ which produced only four movies with 1988 movie ‘Aryan’ as the most successful under the banner. After these two companies, Mohanlal ventured in production and distribution business with ‘Pranavam Arts’, named after his son, in 1990. This venture was an initiative only by him. The first production of the company was ‘His Highness Abdullah’ which was a great commercial success. The movie is still remembered for its song. This company has produced 11 films so far, all of the actor. The most famous movies under this banner are ‘Kaalapani’ (1996), ‘Harikrishnans’ (1998) and ‘Vanaprastham’ (1999). The latest film under this production house was Major Ravi’s ‘Kandahar’ in 2010.
He also plays a major role in the production house ‘Aashirvad Cinemas’ which exclusively produces his movies and was started in 2000 by his longtime associate Antony Perumbavoor. ‘Narasimham’ was the first film produced by this company, which went on to be the most commercially successful film of that time. In total 22 films have come out of this production house which includes box office record breakers like ‘Rasathanthram’ (2006) and ‘Drishyam’ (2013). The actor started ‘Vismaya Max’, named after his daughter, a film post-production studio and college for dubbing artists in 2005. In 2009 he entered into the film distribution sector with his company ‘Maxlab Cinemas and Entertainments’. Amal Neerad directed ‘Sagar Alias Jacky Reloaded’ was the first film to be distributed by Maxlab.
Mohanlal Favourites Sports Cricket Singers K. J. Yesudas Vehicle Mercedes-Benz S350 Song "Nalika Lochane Nin Mizhikalkku Innu Neelam Engane Koodi" - Interview (1973) Book Books by Osho
Though he was born in Pathanamthitta, Mohanlal grew up in Poojapura and because of this, he did his schooling at Model School, Trivandrum. He was very active in performance club of his school. Post the schooling, he joined MG College (Mahatma Gandhi) College, Trivandrum, and secured a degree in Commerce (B.Com).
Mohanlal Social Profiles
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