Mohanlal Viswanathan (born 21 May 1960), known mononymously as Mohanlal, is an Indian actor, film producer, playback singer, film distributor, and director who predominantly works in Malayalam cinema besides also having sporadically appeared in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and Kannada-language films. Mohanlal has a prolific career spanning over four decades, during which he has acted in more than 400 films. Mohanlal’s contributions to the Malayalam cinema have been praised by his contemporaries in the Indian film industry. The Government of India honoured him with Padma Shri in 2001, and Padma Bhushan in 2019, India’s fourth and third highest civilian honours, for his contributions to Indian cinema. In 2009, he became the first actor in India to be awarded the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel in the Territorial Army. Mohanlal was named as one of “the men who changed the face of the Indian Cinema” by CNN-News18.
Mohanlal made his acting debut at age 18 in the Malayalam film Thiranottam in 1978, but the film was delayed in its release for 25 years due to censorship issues. His screen debut was in the 1980 romance film Manjil Virinja Pookkal, in which he played the antagonist. He continued to do villainous roles and rose to secondary lead roles in the following years. By the mid-1980s, he established himself as a bankable leading actor and attained stardom after starring in several successful films in 1986; the crime drama Rajavinte Makan released that year heightened his stardom. Mohanlal prefers to work in Malayalam films, but he has also appeared in some of Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films. Some of his best known non-Malayalam films include the Tamil political drama Iruvar (1997), the Hindi crime drama Company (2002) and the Telugu film Janatha Garage (2016).
Mohanlal has won five National Film Awards—two Best Actor, a Special Jury Mention and a Special Jury Award for acting, and an award for Best Feature Film (as producer), also nine Kerala State Film Awards and Filmfare Awards South and numerous other accolades. He received honorary doctorates from Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in 2010 and the University of Calicut in 2018.
Mohanlal is also known for his philanthropic endeavours. He founded the ViswaSanthi Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization that was started to create and deliver high-impact and focused programs to the underprivileged sections of society in the areas of Healthcare and Education.
Mohanlal Viswanathan was born in the village of Elanthoor in the Pathanamthitta district, Kerala on 21 May 1960. He is the youngest child of Viswanathan Nair, a former bureaucrat and Law Secretary with the Kerala government, and Santhakumari. He had an elder brother named Pyarelal (died in 2000, during a military exercise). Mohanlal was named by his maternal uncle Gopinathan Nair, who initially decided to name him Roshanlal before choosing “Mohanlal”. However, his father avoided giving him their surname. His father was adamant that he should not bear their caste name (Nair) as surname which they all had. Mohanlal grew up in Mudavanmugal at his paternal home in Thiruvananthapuram. He studied at Government Model Boys Higher Secondary School, Thiruvananthapuram and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Mahatma Gandhi College, Thiruvananthapuram. Mohanlal’s first role was as a sixth grader for a stage play called Computer Boy, in which he played a ninety-year-old man.
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During 1977 and 1978 he was the Kerala state wrestling champion.
Mohanlal married Suchitra, daughter of the Tamil film producer K. Balaji, on 28 April 1988. The couple has two children – Pranav Mohanlal and Vismaya Mohanlal.
Pranav has acted in a few films, debuting in Mohanlal’s Onnaman (2001). Mohanlal did not object when his son expressed a desire to act, as “kids may have many such ambitions. If we can help them realise something, what is the problem?.” He resides in Kochi, where he owns houses at Thevara as well as Elamakkara. He also owns houses in Chennai, his hometown Thiruvananthapuram, Ooty, Mahabalipuram, a villa in Arabian Ranches and a flat in the Burj Khalifa at Dubai. Mohanlal is a self-described foodie. He also enjoys melodious music. Mohanlal is a strong believer in destiny and spirituality. He describes himself as a religious and spiritual person, and likes to read Osho, J. Krishnamurti, Aurobindo and Ramana Maharshi. He has often stated that the turn of events in his life, including his film career, was accidental.
In August 2021, Mohanlal received United Arab Emirates’s golden visa.
Mohanlal Age Girlfriend Wife Family Biography
|Real Name||Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair|
|Nickname||Lalettan, Laalu, Universal Star, The Complete Actor|
|Profession||Actor, Producer, Singer|
|Physical Stats & More|
|Height||in centimeters- 172 cm
in meters- 1.72 m
in Feet Inches- 5’ 7¾”
|Weight||in Kilograms- 82 kg
in Pounds- 181 lbs
|Body Measurements||Chest: 42 Inches
Waist: 36 Inches
Biceps: 13 Inches
|Date of Birth||21 May 1960 (Saturday)|
|Age (as of 2023)||63 Years|
|Birth Place||Elanthoor, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India|
|Zodiac sign/Sun sign||Taurus|
|Hometown||Kochi, Kerala, India|
|School||Glps Mudavanmugal School, Poojappura, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
Model School, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
|College||Mahatma Gandhi College, Thiruvananthapuram, India|
|Education Qualifications||Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com)|
|Debut||Film Debut: Manjil Virinja Pookkal (Malayalam, 1980), Company (Bollywood, 2002), Chandramukhi (Tamil, 2005)
Production Debut: Bharatham (Malayalam, 1991)
Singing Debut: Sindooramegham Shringaarakaavyam … (Malayalam, 1985)
|Family||Father– Viswanathan Nair (Advocate)
Mother– Santhakumari Nair
Brother– Pyare Lal (Elder, Died)
Sister– Not Known
|Hobbies||Collecting antiques & artifacts|
|Favorite Actor||Kamal Haasan|
|Favorite Film||Unnaipol Oruvan (Tamil, 2009)|
|Girls, Affairs and More|
|Marriage||28 April 1988|
|Salary||2 to 3 Crore/film (INR)|
|Net Worth||Not Known|
Early years (1978–1985)
Mohanlal made his acting debut in 1978 with the film Thiranottam, which was produced and made by Mohanlal and his friends—Maniyanpilla Raju, Suresh Kumar, Unni, Priyadarshan, Ravi Kumar and a few others. Mohanlal played Kuttappan, a mentally disabled servant. Due to some issues with censorship, the film was not released on time. It took 25 years to release the film.
In 1980, Mohanlal was cast in the lead antagonist role in Manjil Virinja Pookkal – the directorial debut of Fazil. The film became a major success. Mohanlal’s friends had sent his application in response to an advertisement released by Navodaya Studio. He auditioned for the role in front of a panel that included professional directors. Displeased with his appearance, two of them gave him poor marks, but Fazil and Jijo Appachan gave him 90 and 95 marks out of 100. In an interview with Reader’s Digest in 2004, Mohanlal said that his looks as a young man might have fit the villain’s image. His acclaimed negative roles include Sandhyakku Virinja Poovu and Kuyiline Thedi.
By 1983, Mohanlal was credited in more than 25 feature films, most of them had him playing negative roles. Films such as Ente Mohangal Poovaninju, Iniyengilum, Visa, Attakkalasham, Kaliyil Alpam Karyam, Ente Mamattukkuttiyammakku, Engane Nee Marakkum, Unaroo and Sreekrishna Parunthu changed his image. Through Sasikumar’s Ivide Thudangunnu, he became a successful hero with a “good heart”. Mohanlal played his first comic lead role in an ensemble cast in the 1984 comedy Poochakkoru Mookkuthi, directed by Priyadarshan, as a young man in love with a girl whom he mistakenly believes to be rich. It also marked the beginning of the Mohanlal-Priyadarshan duo, who as of 2016, have worked together in 44 films.
In 1985, he recorded a song for the film Onnanam Kunnil Oradi Kunnil. Uyarangalil, Nokketha Doorathu Kannum Nattu, Boeing Boeing and Aram + Aram = Kinnaram were some of his films in this period.
2013 was a remarkable year for Mohanlal, it was the year in which the all-time blockbuster of Malayalam film, Drishyam released. His first film of the year was Lokpal, a vigilante thriller in which he played a vigilante nicknamed “Lokpal”. It was directed by Joshiy and written by S. N. Swamy. Red Wine, directed by Salam Bappu, was a non-linear investigation thriller based on a political murder. Ladies and Gentleman, directed by Siddique, was a romantic comedy film set in the backdrop of IT companies. Geethaanjali, a horror thriller directed by Priyadarsan, was a spin-off of the Malayalam classic film Manichitrathazhu, in which he reprised the role of Dr. Sunny from the original. His last release was Drishyam, directed by Jeethu Joseph. It grossed ₹75 crore worldwide and became the highest-grossing Malayalam film ever, until 2016.
In 2014, he starred in the Tamil action-drama Jilla, alongside Vijay, directed by R. T. Neason and produced by R. B. Choudary. The film was a commercial success, grossing over ₹85 crore worldwide, and completed 100 days theatrical run in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Mohanlal’s first Malayalam release of 2014 was Mr. Fraud, a heist film directed by B. Unnikrishnan. He appeared in an extended cameo role in his next film Koothara, directed by Srinath Rajendran, a coming-of-age mystery film set in an untold period. He played a mysterious character in the experimental film, who at the end of the film revealed himself as a merman. His next was the comical political satire film Peruchazhi, written and directed by Arun Vaidyanathan. He played a young political kingmaker who is assigned to make a candidate for governor win the California state gubernatorial elections, where he uses standard Indian political gimmicks to win the election in the USA.
In 2015, his first release was the Kannada film Mythri. His performance as the revenge-seeking DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) scientist Mahadev was well appreciated by the critics. His first Malayalam release was with a cameo appearance in Rasam. Ennum Eppozhum, directed by Sathyan Anthikad was his first leading role in the year, co-starring Manju Warrier. The film was a success at the box office. It was followed by the action thriller Lailaa O Lailaa, directed by Joshiy, both of which failed critically and commercially at the box office. His next was the Ranjith directorial thriller Loham. Though it met with mixed critical reactions, the film was a commercial success and grossed ₹15 crore at the box office. The revenge thriller Kanal was his last in the year. It also received mixed reviews from critics.
In 2016, Mohanlal had four releases, which had a combined gross collection of ₹378 crore worldwide, making him fourth (behind Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Salman Khan) among the top Indian actors with highest box office receipts in the year, and in top position among South Indian actors. His first release in the year was the Telugu film Manamantha, a family drama directed by Chandra Sekhar Yeleti. His following release was another Telugu film Janatha Garage, an action drama directed by Koratala Siva. It became the highest-grossing Telugu film of 2016 and one of the highest-grossing Telugu films ever,] with a gross collection of over ₹135 crores worldwide. His first Malayalam release that year was the Priyadarshan-directed crime-thriller Oppam, in which he played a blind man. The film became the highest-grossing Malayalam film of 2016 within its first 2 weeks of theatrical run. It crossed the ₹50 crore mark at the box office within one-and-a-half months, and grossed over ₹65 crore worldwide. He acted as a hunter in his following release, the action film Pulimurugan. It became the highest-grossing Malayalam film ever and is the first Malayalam film to gross over ₹100 crore at the box office. The film has so far collected ₹152 crore worldwide. The next year, he acted in another ₹50 crore film; Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol. The next film he acted in was 1971: Beyond Borders directed by Major Ravi. It was a film based on the 1971 India-Pakistan war. The next film he acted in was Velipadinte Pusthakam directed by Lal Jose. It was the first film of Mohanlal-Laljose combo. It was followed by Villain directed by B. Unnikrishnan. Villain was an emotional thriller. Next year he acted in fantasy drama film Odiyan, directed by V. A. Shrikumar Menon. The film was written by Harikrishnan; it is based on the legend of the Odiyan clan. The next film he acted in was Lucifer (2019 Indian film) directed by Prithviraj Sukumaran and written by Murali Gopy which grossed ₹175 crore at the box office It is currently the highest earned Malayalam movie, grossing over ₹200 crore, which includes box office collections and the earnings from the sale of its satellite rights, digital streaming rights and TV rights in other languages.
Mohanlal’s period drama film Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, directed by Priyadarshan won the best feature film award in 67th National Award for the year 2019. The film released on 2 December 2021, in theatres.
Mohanlal starred in thriller film Drishyam 2, directed by Jeethu Joseph. The film released in February 2021, also stars Meena, Ansiba Hassan and Esther Anil.
He starred in Aaraattu a mass masala entertainer produced and directed by B. Unnikrishnan, which released in theatres on 18 February 2022.
Mohanlal with the then Defence Minister of India, A. K. Antony after joining the Indian Territorial Army
Mohanlal had acted in several amateur plays before entering into films. In 2001, he debuted in professional drama playing Karna (a character from the Indian epic Mahabharata) in Karnabharam, a Sanskrit-language play directed by Kavalam Narayana Panicker. It premiered at the Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi on 29 March 2001 as part of the National Theatre Festival of the National School of Drama. The play depicts Karna’s mental agony a day before the Kurukshetra War, as he thinks about his past and his faith. Mohanlal said: “You cannot compare Kavalam’s play with the amateur plays I did. Though there are other characters in the play, the theme revolves around Karna. It is almost like a solo performance. Some of the scenes are really touching and challenging”. He acted without payment, saying: “I performed for the joy of it … for my love of our history”.
Kadhayattam was a presentation enacted by Mohanlal, performing ten classic characters and situations from Malayalam literature, selected from ten Malayalam novels written by O. Chandu Menon, C. V. Raman Pillai, S. K. Pottekkatt, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, P. Kesavadev, Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, Uroob, O. V. Vijayan, M. Mukundan, and M. T. Vasudevan Nair over a 100-year period. The play, directed by T. K. Rajeev Kumar premiered at the Senate Hall of University of Kerala on 1 November 2003, and later was staged in Kozhikode, Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi. In 2008, Mohanlal along with Mukesh performed in Chayamukhi, written and directed by Prasanth Narayanan. Mohanlal and Mukesh portrayed Bheeman and Keechakan respectively, the characters from Mahabharata. It had a play within a play narrative style. It premiered at the Lulu International Convention Centre in Thrissur on 12 March 2008, and later was staged in Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Kollam, Kochi, and Kozhikode. A critic from The Hindu wrote: “Chayamukhi is, arguably, the finest work on Malayalam stage in recent times”. In the same year, Mohanlal voiced Hanuman in the English ballet Maya Ravan, directed by Shobana.
In 2014, Mohanlal and musician Ratheesh Vegha formed the music band Lalisom – The Lal Effect. Its maiden show was at the 2015 National Games of India. The band drew flak from social media initially for charging an amount of ₹1.63 crore and later for lip-syncing. Following the criticism, Mohanlal returned the amount to the government, which they refused stating that the government’s morality would not allow them to take back the money and Mohanlal had not personally benefited from the amount which he received, since it was meant to meet the stage expenses and remuneration for the artistes. Despite that, Mohanlal did not take back the money he dispatched.
In 2015, he collaborated once again with Mukesh for Naga, but this time as the narrator. The play, based on Girish Karnad’s Kannada play Nagamandala, was directed by Suveeran. Naga was a combination of myth, superstition, fact, and fantasy. It was premiered at the Parish Hall of St. George Church, Kalady on 9 August 2015.
Goodwill and brand ambassador
Mohanlal has been a goodwill ambassador for the government and other nonprofit organisations, mainly for public service ads and humanitarian causes. In March 2007, he was made the goodwill ambassador of the AIDS awareness campaign by Kerala AIDS Control Society, for which he acted in short awareness videos. In October 2009, Mohanlal was appointed as the goodwill ambassador of Kerala State Athletics by the Kerala State Athletics Association. In March 2010, Mohanlal accepted the plea of the Department of Industries and Commerce of the Government of Kerala to be designated as the goodwill ambassador of Kerala’s handloom industries. In July 2015, the Government of Kerala made him the Goodwill ambassador of “Subhayatra 2015”, a project developed to create awareness about traffic rules. He was appointed as the Goodwill ambassador of “Mrithasanjeevani” in September 2016, another project by the Government of Kerala aimed at promoting organ donation in the state. In January 2021, he was appointed as the goodwill ambassador of the tuberculosis eradication campaign by the Kerala government’s health department.
He has also appeared in several television commercials and advertisements for Malabar Gold and Diamonds, Oceanus etc. Mohanlal was the first movie star in India to endorse the ubiquitous dhoti after he was made the brand ambassador of MCR in 2001. MCR manufactured 30,000 coloured dhotis which had been featured in the film Narasimham (2000), which was a market success. He continues to be the chief brand ambassador of MCR. Mohanlal signed as the brand ambassador of Kanan Devan in 2002, a tea brand owned by the Tata Global Beverages. His contract was renewed after its rebranding in 2014. In July 2010, LG Electronics India enlisted Mohanlal for the endorsement of the brand’s Onam festival offers for Kerala customers lasting till September 2010. In the same year, he was signed as the brand ambassador in the state for Manappuram Finance Ltd., a non-banking financial company. Mohanlal endorsed the coconut oil brand KLF Coconad in 2013.
In September 2013, the direct-broadcast satellite television provider Tata Sky announced Mohanlal as its brand endorser for its Kerala market. Mohanlal, along with Milkha Singh and P. T. Usha were the brand ambassadors of the event Kochi International Half Marathon in 2013, a half marathon organised by Kochi Municipal Corporation and Push Integrated Communication Pvt Ltd., He continued in its second edition in 2014, along with cricketer Harbhajan Singh. In May 2016, as part of expanding its market to the South Indian audience, the entertainment company Hotstar, which is a platform for streaming media and video on demand, announced Mohanlal as its brand ambassador for its Malayalam contents. He endorsed its six-week multimedia campaign on television, print, outdoor and digital medias.
Business and other ventures
Mohanlal has started and associated with several business ventures related to film production and distribution, restaurants and packaged spices among others. He co-owned a production company during the 1980s, Casino, along with Mammootty, I.V. Sasi, Seema and Century Kochumon. The production house produced commercially successful films such as Adiyozhukkukal (1984), Karimpinpoovinakkare (1985), Gandhinagar 2nd Street (1986) and Nadodikkattu (1987). He owns Maxlab Cinemas and Entertainments, a film distribution company. He started Vismayas Max, a film pre and post-production studio headquartered in Trivandrum and a college for dubbing artists at KINFRA Film and Video Park, Trivandrum. The company’s management was later taken over by Sohan Roy of Aries Group, which has now been renamed as Aries Vismayas Max. Mohanlal continues to be its brand ambassador. He has produced films under the production house Pranavam Arts International.
He owns restaurants in India and overseas, including a chain in Dubai called Mohanlal’s Tastebuds, established in 2002, and a spices, pickles, condiments, and curry powder brand with the same name launched in February 2004 in the Middle East. From 2007, the Eastern Group owns the majority stake in the brand. In 2006, he opened a seafood restaurant named The Harbour Market in Bangalore, and a hotel named Travancore Court in Ernakulam. His other business ventures include Uniroyal Marine Exports Limited – a Kozhikode-based seafood export company, where he is a non-executive director since 1992. He is the co-founder, partner and chairman of Jose Thomas Performing Arts Centre (JTPac) in Thrippunithura, Kochi, an arts centre for performing arts and music established in 2009. He is an independent director of Clenergen India Private Limited, a company for production and supply of biomass feedstock for biomass gasification.
In 2009, Mohanlal, along with Priyadarshan, tried to bid for an Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team based in Kochi; they withdrew the bid on failing to source enough funds after a change in rules was introduced. Mohanlal was the captain of the Kerala Strikers team in the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) held in 2012 and 2013.
In 2008, Mohanlal underwent 18 months of covert escape artist training under magician Gopinath Muthukad to perform a stunt called the “Burning Illusion” in Thiruvananthapuram. However, due to pressure from fans and contemporaries, the act was canceled. The event was jointly organized by the Kerala Police, Department of Tourism, and the Kerala State Youth Welfare Board as part of Vismayam 2008, an international convention of magicians. The stunt involved Mohanlal being handcuffed and wrapped in chains, placed inside a box, and thrown into a ball of fire from which he had to escape.
Magician Samraj advised Mohanlal against the stunt and requesting that he withdraw. AMMA president Innocent also urged Mohanlal to refrain from the risky show. The purpose of the stunt was to inspire youth to overcome challenges in life. Mohanlal acknowledged the 50-50 risk involved but expressed hope for success. Muthukad emphasized that, although fire escape is one of the most dangerous acts, Mohanlal has been practicing to perfect it.
In 2014, Mohanlal performed a risk-free magic at the inaugural function of Magic Planet, a magic-themed complex in Thiruvananthapuram, founded by Muthukad. The chief minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy, inaugurated the event, and Mohanlal’s act involved levitating a girl.
In a career spanning near forty years, Mohanlal has received numerous accolades and honours both competitive and honorary, among them are five National Film Awards, nine Kerala State Film Awards and Filmfare Awards South. The Government of India honoured him with Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour in 2001 and Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian honour in 2019, for his contributions to the arts. He was conferred with honorary Doctor of Letters by Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in 2010, and the University of Calicut in 2018.
In 2008, while filming for Kurukshetra, in which he plays an Indian Army officer, Mohanlal expressed his interest to join the Territorial Army of India. But he could not, as men above the age of 42 are not eligible to join the volunteer force. On 9 July 2008, he was formally inducted to the Territorial Army in the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel by then Army Chief Deepak Kapoor. He is the first actor to receive the honour. In 2012, he was bestowed with an honorary title of Black belt in Taekwondo from Kukkiwon, South Korea. He is the first South Indian actor to be honoured with the title.
Main articles: Mohanlal filmography