From the moment he appears onscreen in Ram Gopal Varma's highly-acclaimed 2002 Hindi crime thriller Company, you realize that Mohanlal is an actor not to be taken lightly. Though already a superstar in the Malayalam film industry, this was Mohanlal's first Hindi film and audiences took notice of his acting chops. The Hindu explained:
Mohanlal, portraying the character of the high profile Malayalee police officer, Srinivasan, who treats crime as a doctor would a disease, is at his natural best. He does not look stifled or anxious as other South Indian stars do when they appear in a Hindi movie for the first time.
Mohanlal's performance in Company earned him multiple awards for Best Supporting Actor.
Born 21 May 1960 in Elanthoor village in Kerala, Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair is considered one of the greatest Indian actors of his time. This versatile artist - known as "The Complete Actor" - has performed in more than 320 films in the Kerala-based Malayalam film industry - also known as "Mollywood" - as well as scores of Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada films. He has performed on stage and been a playback singer for more than 30 songs. Beyond his many awards for acting, the Indian government awarded him the Padma Shri in 2001, he was given the honorary rank of Lt. Colonel in Indian Territorial Army in 2009, and in 2012 Kukkiwon bestowed him with the title of Black belt in the Korean martial art Taekwondo.
If you are new to Indian film, here are five favorite Mohanlal-starrers to check out.
English Translation: "Visual", "The Sight", "What is Seen"
Release Date: 19 December 2013
Director: Jeethu Joseph
Music by: Vinu Thomas, Anil Johnson
Producer: Antony Perumbavoor
Description: Drama thriller. How far would you go to protect your family? Georgekutty (Mohanlal) runs a cable TV business. He loves watching movies and spending time with his wife and two daughters. His family comes under threat when Varun Prabhakar - the son of Inspector General of Police Geetha (Asha Sarath) and Prabhakar (Siddique) - enters their lives.
Why I Love This Film: While this begins as a story about your typical happy family working together to make ends meet, you are soon plunged into a nightmare scenario which Georgekutty manages to get under control with the unwavering support of his wife and daughters who truly believe that father knows best. While you might not agree with all their methods, watching this family unit stick together through whatever storms come their way is both moving and memorable.
Recognition: Asianet Film Awards, Millennium Actor; Amrita Film Awards Best Actor; Jaihind TV Film Awards Best Actor; Kerala Film Critics Association Awards Best Actor.
Note: A Telugu version of the film, Drushyam starring Venkatesh, was released on 11 July 2014. A Hindi version of Drishyam, starring Ajay Devgn and Tabu, releases on 31 July 2015.
2. Run Babby Run
English Translation: "Run Baby Run"
Release Date: 29 August 2012
Director: Joshiy | Written by: Sachy
Music by: Ratheesh Vegha
Producer: Milan Jaleel
Description: Comedy thriller. When high-profile Reuters news cameraman Venu (Mohanlal) and Renuka (Amala Paul) uncover a political scam, the repercussions turns them into foes. Five years later they witness a murder by Bharathan Pillai (Sai Kumar) which puts their lives on the line.
Why I Love This Film: Whether it's the bromance between Venu and News Bureau of India head Rishikesh (Biju Menon) or the attempts at payback against his one-time-lover Renu, the film includes many humorous moments. But the thrilling twists and turns in the plot as the threats to Venu and Renu escalate keeps the story interesting through to the end. A special treat is Mohanlal singing the romantic item number "Attumanal Payayil".
Recognition: Asiavision Awards Best Actor; Asiavision Awards New Sensation in Singing; Asianet Film Awards Best Actor.
English Translation: "Love"
Release Date: 31 August 2011
Music by: M. Jayachandran
Producers: P. K. Sajeev, Anne Sajeev
Description: Romantic drama. 30 years after a messy divorce, Grace (Jaya Prada) - now married to Mathews (Mohanlal) - crosses paths with her ex-husband Achutha Menon (Anupam Kher). Over the objections of their families, Grace, Mathews, and Menon explore the past and begin spending more and more time together as friends.
Why I Love This Film: The casting of Anupam Kher and Mohanlal makes this film work exceptionally well. Mohanlal's Mathews is full of joie de vivre despite his slurred speech and paralysis in all but his left arm - the result of a stroke. Kher's Menon is lonely - until he reconnects with Grace. Their story of coming together gently explores the meaning of love, companionship and togetherness with honesty and integrity.
Recognition: Amrita Film Award Best Actor; Asianet Film Award Best Actor; Film Critics Award Best Actor; Kerala Film Producers Association-Surya TV Film Award Best Actor; Kochi Times FIlm Award Best Actor; Mathrubhumi Film Award Best Actor; Nana FIlm Award Special Jury Mention; Ramu Kariat Award Best Actor; Reporter Film Award Best Actor; South Indian International Movie Awards Best Actor; Vanitha Film Award Best Actor; Viewers Choice Award Best Actor
4. Christian Brothers
Release Date: 18 March 2011
Director: Joshiy | Written by: Udayakrishna-Siby K. Thomas
Music by: Deepak Dev, Rajamani (Background Score)
Producers: A. V. Anoop, Maha Subair
Description: Action thriller. Christy (Mohanlal) and his three brothers - his brother by birth, Joji (Dileep); his brother by marriage, IPS Joseph Vadakkan (Suresh Gopi); and his brother by experience, Andrews (Sarath Kumar) - come together to right the wrongs done to their loved ones by George Kutty (Suresh Krishna) and the Thampy family.
Why I Love This Film: While there is no question that this is Mohanlal's film, the other superstars - Dileep, Suresh Gopi, and Sarath Kumar - are given their opportunity to shine. Though the storyline features multiple villains and multiple heroes, the tale never veers off track - and the richness comes in the entertaining and sincere interactions of our four heroes.
5. Evidam Swargamanu
English Translation: "It's Heaven Here"
Release Date: 25 December 2009
Director: Rosshan Andrrews | Written by: James Albert
Music by: Gopi Sunder
Producer: Antony Perumbavoor
Description: Thriller. Innovative farmer Mathews (Mohanlal) has realized the dream of his father Jermias (Thilakan) by setting up a huge farm raising dairy cows, growing vegetables, and providing off-the-grid electricity on the banks of the river Periyar. His happy life is disrupted when powerful land dealer Aluva Chandi (Lalu Alex) decides he wants to purchase Mathews' land. When Mathews refuses, Chandi begins a series of tactics to force the farm to close. Mathews fights back with the help of news reporter Betsy Varghese (Priyanka), lawyer Advocate Sunitha (Lakshmi Rai), and amicus curiae ("friend of the court") Prabalan (Sreenivasan).
Why I Love This Film: From the moment you step foot onto Mathews' farm, you see what an intelligent, thoughtful, and capable family-run farm looks like - a reflection of the man behind it all. As Mathews deals with the wily and underhanded tactics devised by Chandi that exploit the law and threaten his farm, family, and future you see not only the bad side of the land grabbing industry, but the good side of those who would stand up for the rights of the common man.
Recognition: Asianet Film Awards Best Actor; Vanitha Film Awards Most Popular Actor; Kairali TV – World Malayali Council Film Award Best Actor
Don't know which film to watch first? The following video playlist features trailers for each of the five films.
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