If you ever Google search for Mohanlal, you will find him. And fast. You only need to type in M-O-H-A-N and Google's ever so smart keyword-suggestion feature will deliver Mohanlal to the the top of the list.
Mohanlal, a Mollywood hero, is close to 50 years old, overweight and yet he manages to top the Google search results. "Why?" Some may ask shaking their heads in sadness over the state of Malayalam cinema. "How?" others may ask in horror.
Fifty is definitely not a glamorous number when associated with age. Especially when your waistline measures something close to that as well. And let's not even mention the ‘moustache’, an essential hair piece in Mollywood. Yes, you can be an aging, bald actor, but as long as your moustache stays its hairy, shiny self, the theatres will stay packed. Mohanlal seems to have kept his audience enthralled with his on-screen performances so far.
The Big M has ruled over Malayalam cinema for almost three decades, although he has had to share his throne with fellow actor Mammootty. An actor’s greatest strength lies in his versatility to adapt to any role, and Mohanlal has certainly proved himself in that regard. One of my personal favourites is his role as the love-struck mentally disturbed patient in the tragic romance 'Thalavattam'. Or the simpleton trying to get back his house in the comedy film 'Sanmanassullavarku Samadhanam'. And the struggling director waiting for his first break in 'Udayananu Tharam'. Unfortunately, in recent times screen-writers and directors, it seems, are happy to have him play a stereotype. The suave, fears-no-one hero who has very little to do in terms of acting. These stories are sure-shot theatre-fillers but peppered with meaningless dialogues and gratuitous fight scenes. Once in a blue moon, a director churns out a good Mohanlal starrer where as we watch him we are reminded why he still continues to rule the Malayalam cinema industry.
The actor has won several awards including the prestigious Padmashree award and National award twice for his performances in 'Vanaprastham' and 'Bharatham'. And rightly so. He became the first Indian actor ever to receive the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. Interestingly for a Mollywood actor, he has gained recognition among a wider audience with roles in Hindi movies like ‘Company’ and ‘Aag’.
Lovingly referred to as 'Lal-ettan', which means 'Elder brother Lal', he is probably one of the most commonly imitated actors in Kerala. Mohanlal is famed for his slant-shouldered stance and cheeky grin. The one advantage he does have over his rival Mammootty is that he has excellent comedy timing where Mammootty is better known for his serious, thought-provoking roles.
How long this reign of ‘superstar-dom’ will last, no one can tell. Judging from the strength of his fan base, we can safely predict that Lal-ettan is in no hurry to leave the big screen.