Every story has a bad guy. But seldom do we find villains that inspire unadulterated revulsion the way the following characters have in the minds of the viewer. Naturally, writing or performing such roles is no mean feat and as they say, a hero is only as good as their villains.
Here's a look at some of Malayalam cinema's most unforgettable villains.
Bhaskara Patelar (Mammootty)
The first thing that strikes you about Patelar (Mammootty) is his eyes—they speak volumes of his cruelty, like a predator's, constantly on the lookout for its prey. In the opening scene, an intoxicated Patelar is seen sitting on a chair in front of a hut as he sizes up the newly arrived slave Thommi. At first, he is full of scorn, spitting on his face and pushing Thommi to the ground. The tone changes only when he comes to know of his wife— "Aval sundariyanoda?" (is she beautiful?) drawls the man in his South Canara dialect and you can see naked lust in his eyes. Based on Zachariah's book Bhaskara Patelarum Ente Jeevithavum, Vidheyan's leading man is despicable in every way. Not only is he brazenly licentious (he molests Thommi's wife with his knowledge) and cruel, he is also a murderer.
P.K. Jayarajan (Mohanlal)
He is a smiling assassin — a bit like George Mellis in Sidney Sheldon's Master of the Game. Jayarajan (Mohanlal) has come up the hard way, and is someone who thinks there is no greater power than money. He plans everything with clinical precision — belligerently stepping over people's dreams to build his own. He even fakes love to sleep with women, only to break their hearts in the end. When his scorned girlfriend squalls into his office and demands an explanation, Jayarajan looks unruffled, smiles calmly and convinces her that he will set everything right. He never shows remorse, not even in death.
Tablist Ayyappan (Bharath Gopi)
He is a magician with the tabla. It's difficult to take your eyes off the man when he is at it, drumming it with maniacal precision. Off it, Ayappan is an uncouth, bad-tempered womaniser and a wife-beater with no redeeming qualities. Each time Ayyappan comes on screen, the disgust he generates is unmistakable.
Paul Paulokkaran (Thilakan)
Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal (1986)
Paulokkaran evokes a mix of revulsion and fear. Every time he stares at his stepdaughter Sophie, you can almost read his mind. He rarely smiles and is either gruff or drunk—the only time you see him ease his guard is when he's with his own daughter. He watches the Solomon-Sophie affair warily. In that penultimate scene when Solomon looks helplessly at a distraught Sophie after he discovers her stepfather's brutality, it's hard to forget Paulokkaran's sneer and that smugness on his face.
Murikkunkunnathu Ahmed Haji (Mammootty)
Paleri Manickyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Katha (2009)
He considers himself next only to God. A self-proclaimed feudal lord, he looks at those who work for him with contempt. There is a dreadful scene where the ageing patriarch commands one of his men to be tied up along with the buffalo while paddling the rice field. In his younger days, he considered himself a stud — bedding any woman who caught his fancy. Finally, karma takes a hand when his own son decides to follow his footsteps.
Hyder Marakkar (Tiger Prabhakar)
Dhruvam has one of the most engaging battles between a hero and a villain — Narasimha Mannadiar and Hyder Marakkar. The former is doggedly after Marakkar's life to seek revenge for killing his kin. Hyder is a smug, ruthless antagonist who kills without batting an eyelid and has the government officials shielding him. Mannadiar's goodness blends perfectly with Haider's villainy.
Swami Amoorthananda (Narendra Prasad)
Renji Panicker was evidently inspired by Godman Chandraswami when he fashioned this character with long flowing robes, powder white beard and hands twisted around fat rudraksha beads. A lot of credit should go to Narendra Prasad who lent a wicked eccentricity to the character with his mannerisms and dialogue delivery. One of the high points of Ekalavyan remains the verbal pow-wow between Madhavan IPS (Suresh Gopi) and Swami Amoorthananda.
Mohan Thomas (Ratheesh)
Renji Panicker clearly built his antagonists on par with his heroes. Assistant Commissioner Bharath Chandran needed an adversary to match his wits and no one did it better than Mohan Thomas. He was the classic political kingpin who hobnobbed with the rich and powerful. Ratheesh slips into bland suits, sly grins and sharp stares and it's all extremely effective.
Mundakkal Shekaran (Napoleon)
Mangalasseri Neelakandan could not have asked for a better match than Mundakkal Shekaran. They despise each other and don't spare a chance to get the better of the other. A lot of credit must also go to Shammi Thilakan, who dubbed for Napoleon—the raw hatred and anger he brings to the character is enough to make us wary of him.
Angoor Rawther (Jayasurya)
Iyobinte Pusthakam (2014)
Rawther has a kind smile; it's his way of sizing up an opponent. He begins slowly and gently makes his way up, but when that doesn't work, the tone changes, and so does his smile. It's an uneasy sight that sends a chill down the spine of even the otherwise unflappable Iyob (Lal). Jayasurya looks the part in this pre-independence film set in Munnar, directed by Amal Neerad and brings in a controlled aggression.
Chakkara (Chemban Jose Vinod)
There is something unnerving about Chakkara. He drives a lorry, fantasises about skimpily clad women and hides his wickedness behind a deceptively calm smile. He and the hero (Dulquer Salmaan) start on the wrong foot but he already has his eyes fixed on the heroine (Sai Pallavi). Chemban, is fantastic as Chakkara, more so as he isn't the in-your-face creep—he mildly leers and that's enough to make us break out in a cold sweat.
Keerikadan Jose (Mohan Raj)
It's indicative of the character's popularity when the actor is still referred to as the man who played Keerikadan Jose. Sethumadhavan's nemesis and a towering symbol of destruction, Jose is solely responsible for changing the life of a bright young man. One of Lohithadas's best antagonists, there cannot be a Sethumadhavan without a Keerikadan Jose.