Ask any Malayalam movie lover about why Mohanlal is called a 'Complete Actor', and they will give a million reasons, nah...films as to why. Mohanlal is one of those performers for whom histrionics comes naturally. Just like Kamal Haasan, Shabana Azmi or Naseeruddin Shah. Considered as one of the finest actors ever born in this country, Mohanlal has given Malayali movie buffs so many movies to love and laugh, cry and cheer, whistle and cherish! Mohanlal is All Set to Mark his Directorial Debut with 'Barroz'.
The most fantastic thing about Mohanlal is that no genre is a challenge for the man. If mass roles are kind of child's play for Lalettan, as his fans lovingly call him, then the multiple-time National award winner is also very proficient in making you laugh your guts out and cry your eyes out.
But I have a confession to make here - I believe that Mohanlal of the present times is too constricted within the artificiality of his scripts. The actor in him was the most challenged during the renaissance of Malayalam cinema, which is around the late '80s to the early '90s. Many of Mohanlal's best performances come from this era. Which also makes up most of the films in the below list. Ajith’s Viswasam, Mohanlal’s Lucifer: Biggest South Indian Box Office Winners in the 2019 First Quarter.
On Mohanlal's 59th birthday, I have picked up my choice of five comic acts and five tragic performances of the superstar that cherish deep inside our hearts.
Mazha Peyunnu Madalam Kottunu
Mohanlal and Priyadarshan together have given us so many slapstick comedies in the '80s like Poochalyoru Mookuthi and Aram + Aram = Kinnaram. But I can't help but pick this laughathon movie, where Lalettan, Srinivasan and Jagathy Sreekumar are at their hilarious best. If you hear the phrase 'kilometres of kilometres from Washinton DC to Miami Beach' and find your Mallu friends laughs, this movie is the reason why!
Vandanam is not a complete comedy, as the second half does get very serious thanks to the vendetta angle. However, the first half is uproariously hilarious thanks to some physical comedy from Mohanlal, Mukesh and Jagadeesh.
Mohanlal, Jagathy Sreekumar and Priyadarshan are a fab team together, and Kilukkam is one of their finest efforts. And when they are joined by an incredible actress as Revathy and a brilliant thespian as Thilakan, the quality leaps bounds. Like Vandanam, the second half gets in serious mode. But there are so many laughs to offer in the first half, thanks to Lalettan's guide, Revathy's mysterious tourist and Jagathy's miserly photographer.
Okay, the entire trilogy of Nadodikaattu (Patanapravesham and Akkare Akkare Akkare included) is just class. But let's talk about how eternally brilliant the first movie was, directed by Sathyan Anthikad. Mohanlal and Sreenivasan's Dasan and Vijayan are the best tag team Malayalam cinema has ever seen, and the movie offers us more pulp characters like Ananthan Nambiar, Driver Balan, Pavanazhi etc. Also, Nadodikaattu taught Malayalam movie two important phrases in Arabic- "As-Salaam-Alaikum," and "Wa Alaikum Assalam."
This psychological drama is one of the best films Malayalam cinema has ever produced. And yet it also has time to give us some of the most hilarious scenes on the big screen. Many of them come through Mohanlal's quirky psychiatrist Sunny Joseph and his bizarre ways of treatment. He is so strange and unconventional in his treatment that not many take him seriously. The scene with a bathing KPAC Lalitha will definitely bring the house down.
Ask Mohanlal fans, which performance of his made them cry the most, Kireedam would top the list. Mohanlal was incredible as the son of a police constable who wants to join the law, but is shunted in the life of crime by a tragic twist of fate. His performance in the climax of the film is so heartrending that you cannot watch it again.
In this TK Rajeev Kumar movie, Mohanlal plays a man who has to take care of his very young sibling after their parents are out of the picture. He makes his whole life around his sister. So when she drifts apart from him after getting into college, our protagonist has no clue how to deal with the emptiness, leading to some tragic repercussions.
Ulsavapittennu is a film directed by the late actor Bharat Gopi, and has Mohanlal play a man-child, an heir to a rich household but couldn't handle the responsibility that comes along with it. He takes things to his heart. But when things don't work in his favour, including his marriage, the protagonist decides to take a drastic step leading to an unforgettable climax.
Sadayam might not be a tearjerker as the rest of the films in this section, but it definitely has one of the darkest, tragic roles of Mohanlal. Playing the death row inmate, the movie recounts the last days of the convict, played by Mohanlal, as he interacts with the people he had affected and the circumstances that landed him close to death. There is a very chilling scene involving the murder of two innocent kids that is something you won't forget anytime soon.
Mohanlal plays a brilliant government employee in this Blessy film, whose life takes a paradoxical turn when he is afflicted with Alzheimer's. The movie deals with how he slowly descends into a life of forgetfulness and becoming a child, as his family ties to cope with this tragic development. The final scene will move you to tears for sure.