Mohanlal’s performances are well-known in Kerala. With the recent boom in streaming services Malayalam cinema has gained a new global audience giving them a chance to explore the actor’s new and old Malayalam classics such as Drishyam 2 and Manichitrathazhu. From the performance-driven entertainer like Janatha Garage to Ram Gopal Varma’s infamous Aag, as the actor turns 61 today here are 10 regional films apart from Malayalam in which the actor has played interesting and powerful roles.
10. Aag (2007)
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
If Company was regarded as RGV’s crowning achievement, Aag was his Achilles Heel. The thought of remaking Sholay with Amitabh Bachan donning the pivotal role of Babban (equivalent to Gabbar) got everyone excited. The role of Sanjeev Kapoor’s Thakur was reinterpreted by Mohanlal as Police Inspector Narsimha.
9. Popcarn (2003)
Director – Nassar
Mohanlal plays the role of an alcoholic music director Vikramaditya who falls in love and marries a dance artist Jamuna (Simran). What follows is how their relationship is put to the test due to clashing egos. Though not commercially a success, the film had good performances by Mohanlal and Simran.
8. Mythri (2015)
Director – B. M. Giriraj
Mohanlal plays the role of DRDO scientist Mahadev who turns vigilante to seek revenge over his son’s murder. Though an extended cameo of sorts, Mohanlal’s role played a crucial part in this social drama which had Puneeth Rajkumar in a guest role as himself. The film went on to win Karnataka state film award for Best film gaining unanimous critical acclaim across Karnataka.
7. Tezz (2012)
Director – Priyadarshan
This action-thriller starring Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, and Kangana Ranaut was a cross of Bullet Train(1975) and Speed (1994). Mohanlal appeared in a cameo role as Shivan Menon, a police officer escorting a prisoner in the very same train that is rigged with a bomb. He also quotes a dialogue similar in line with “There is a bomb in the bus” from speed.
Tezz failed at the box office. Though Mohanlal’s appearance was only in a handful of scenes, it was among the worthy mentions in this derailed action drama.
6. Manamantha (2016)
Director – Chandra Sekhar Yeleti
Manamantha was Mohanlal’s first full-fledged role in Telugu cinema where he plays the role of Sai Ram an assistant manager at a supermarket yearning to become a manager. Chandra Sekhar Yeleti’s film was an anthology of sorts that tells the story of four individuals and the problems they encounter leading up to an interwinding climax. The star cast also includes Gautami, Viswant Duddumpudi, and Raina Rao. The film was also released in Malayalam titled Vismayam with slight changes in the supporting cast.
5. Jilla (2014)
Director – Nesan
The film brought Mohanlal and actor Vijay together to share screen space in this commercial entertainer. Mohanlal essayed the role of Sivan, a Godfatheresque don in Madurai who adopts Shakti played by Vijay who grows up to become his son and Man Friday. The plot takes off when the two principal characters develop a feud with each other making Shakthi reform into an honest cop and think of Sivan as evil.
4. Unnaipol Oruvan (2009)
Director – Chakri Toleti
The sheer presence of two iconic stars of the south Mohanlal and Kamal Hassan who battle it out in this negotiation drama was every cinema lover’s surprise bonus that they never asked for. Mohanlal plays Irinjalakuda Govindan Raghavan Maraar IPS who is pitted against Srinivasa Ramanujan / Karamchand played by Kamal Hassan in this almost riveting drama which retains central plot structure from its original (A Wednesday) with minor changes to suit the nativity of Chennai.
3. Janatha Garage (2016)
Director – Koratala Siva
Sathyam played by Mohanlal runs a garage where apart from fixing automobiles he and his men often tend to fix the civic society by eliminating goons. Alongside Jr.NTR, Mohanlal with his subdued mannerism brought a refreshing dimension to the character of Sathyam that made the Telugu audience take notice of the actor, similar to Jilla in Tamil.
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
The dialogue “Kaun bola tere ko police hamesha kanoon ke andar kaam karti hai” is one of the many iconic dialogues from the film. What makes it special is the way it is told by the character Veerapalli Srinivasan IPS played by Mohanlal. The Malayalam star’s foray into Hindi cinema couldn’t have been better, playing the role of calm yet menacing Mumbai city commissioner of police.
Director – Mani Ratnam
Mani Ratnam’s film is a fictional retelling of the story of the friendship and feud between Karunanidhi and MGR told through Thamizhselvan (Prakash Raj) and Anandan (Mohanlal). The role of Anandan seemed etched for Mohanlal. From a rookie actor seeking a break in films to rising high on the political stage, the actor portrays the complex shades with panache.