Today marks the 63rd birthday of Mohanlal, the beloved actor and superstar of Malayalam cinema. Mohanlal began his acting journey at the young age of 18 with the film 'Thiranottam' in 1978. However, due to censorship issues, the film faced a lengthy delay of 25 years before its release. Nonetheless, Mohanlal's screen debut officially took place in the 1980 romantic film 'Manjil Virinja Pookkal', where he portrayed the antagonist. From that point onwards, there was no looking back for this remarkable actor.
Selecting Mohanlal's top performances is a daunting task, given the sheer number of his outstanding portrayals. His body of work is filled with numerous brilliant performances. Nevertheless, here is a humble compilation of five of his most remarkable performances:
The movie showcases Mohanlal in one of his most iconic roles as Mangalassery Neelakandan, a spoiled son coming from a wealthy family. Mohanlal's portrayal of Neelakandan is a masterclass in acting, particularly during the moments when the character discovers the truth about his own existence and undergoes a mental breakdown before ultimately finding redemption. His performance is so compelling that it leaves one wondering if anyone else could have tackled such a complex character with such finesse. Neelakandan's character became immensely popular, etching itself into the hearts and minds of Malayalis, thanks to Mohanlal's graceful portrayal. The movie became one of the highest-grossing Malayalam movies of that decade. Its compelling narrative, memorable dialogues, and well-crafted characters have attained cult status among the audience.
Mohanlal's portrayal of Gopi in 'Bharatham' was a significant milestone in his career, earning him his first National Award for Best Actor. Gopi's character serves as a catalyst in the narrative, bringing forth impactful conflicts and emotional depth to the plot. The complex relationship between Gopi and his elder brother Raman, portrayed by Nedumudi Venu, undergoes various trials and transformations throughout the movie. One cannot overlook the scene where Mohanlal's character learns about his brother's demise, as it exemplifies his effortless and natural acting prowess. Through his expressive eyes and body language, Mohanlal conveys the depth of Gopi's grief. It is moments like these that highlight why Mohanlal is often hailed as a natural actor. Mohanlal's performance in 'Bharatham' added layers of authenticity and emotional resonance to the film.
In the film 'Kaalapani', Mohanlal's acting prowess truly shines, leaving a lasting impression on the audience. The movie revolves around Indian independence activists who endure unimaginable hardships in a cellular jail located in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Mohanlal's on-screen presence exudes an undeniable aura, captivating viewers and making them believe in the authenticity of his portrayal.
One particular scene stands out, where Mohanlal's Govardhan is compelled to lick the boots of Amrish Puri's character. Mohanlal fearlessly embraced the challenging moment, executing it with remarkable authenticity. Director Priyadarshan, in an interview, shared that Amrish Puri hugged Mohanlal and shed tears after the scene, acknowledging that no other actor could have accomplished it so effectively.
Blessy's 'Thanmathra' stands as a Mohanlal movie that deeply moves the audience, evoking heartfelt tears. Mohanlal's portrayal in the film is simply extraordinary. He immerses himself in the role of a man suffering from Alzheimer's disease, delivering a gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking performance. Witnessing Mohanlal's character go through the phases of the illness is an emotionally charged experience.
In interviews, Mohanlal shared that many people reached out to him after watching the movie, amazed by his portrayal and asking how he learned the minute mannerisms of an Alzheimer's patient. Surprisingly, Mohanlal revealed that he didn't learn it from anyone but performed purely based on his natural instincts.
This revelation highlights the innate talent and brilliance of Mohanlal as an actor. His ability to delve into the depths of a character and bring out the most nuanced and realistic aspects is unparalleled.
The impact of 'Drishyam' on Malayalam cinema cannot be overstated, as it propelled the industry to greater heights. While the movie gained immense popularity through its remakes in various languages, it is the original version that truly stands out. The primary reason for this distinction is none other than Mohanlal.
In the movie, Mohanlal portrays the role of Georgekutty, an ardent movie enthusiast. The film revolves around Georgekutty's family, who find themselves entangled in a troubling situation due to the actions of an IG's son. Georgekutty faces numerous challenges as he strives to protect and free his family from this predicament.
'Drishyam' is often regarded as Mohanlal's comeback movie, as it provided him with the opportunity to flawlessly portray an ordinary, minimally educated man. It is truly remarkable how effortlessly he brings Georgekutty's character to life on screen. Mohanlal's performance in the film is beyond words, demonstrating his God-given talent. His portrayal is so authentic that during a scene where Shajohn's character beats up Mohanlal, the audience's emotions run high as if the atrocity is happening to someone they know personally.