Mohanlal turned 60 today. But, he moves like a 40-year-old on screen. Even to date, he gives the current crop of young actors a run for their money, when it comes doing stunts. And yet, he is not clingy about his ‘action hero’ reputation. Doing an action movie is a piece of cake for him. That’s why he challenges himself by picking comedy movies. It takes little effort to muster an angry face, storm the enemy’s camp and deliver well-written blood-boiling punchlines. But, doing comedy is a tough business. There is no shame greater than a good comedy being performed poorly. It takes a special talent and years of practice to perfect the comic timing and deliver it flawlessly.
Mohanlal is as much a gifted comedian as one of the biggest movie stars of the country. And that is what makes him ‘The Complete Actor’.
If your knowledge of his filmography begins with Drishyam and ends with Lucifer, then consider that you don’t know anything at all. The best of Mohanlal’s work lies in the late 80s and the entire 90s.
Here is a list of 10 old movies of Mohanlal you can stream on Disney+ Hotstar to understand why the 60-year-old actor holds such a special place in Indian cinema.
1) Chithram: A con man in need of money takes up a job, which requires him to pretend to be a woman’s husband. And what follows is a series of madcap physical comedy steaming from efforts to keep up the deceit.
2) Kireedam: This movie has one of the finest climax sequences ever produced on Indian celluloid. The movie inspired several remakes in other languages, and everyone tried to milk the climax scene to the best of their ability. But, none of them could achieve what Mohanlal achieved. It is a story about a brave young man who stands up to a criminal to defend his father. And the society refuses to see him as anything more than a man who beat up a local thug, leading to a devastating end.
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3) Kilukkam: Set in the picturesque backdrop of Ooty, this is a very good looking movie. The music from S. P. Venkatesh and Bichu Thirumala was a big plus. There is something about Mohanlal running for a comical reason. It is very vibrant. And you will see him do that a lot in this movie. And Revathi’s performance in the first half is a complete riot.
4) Yodha: A young kid gets taken from a Buddhist monastery in Nepal by an evil group. The defender of the monastery fails to protect the kid. The prophecy says a protector (read Mohanlal) would raise from beyond the mountains and deliver the kid from evil. The folk tale is narrated with all the elements of commercial cinema.
5) Vietnam Colony: Another comedy gem in Mohanlal’s resume. Written and directed by Siddique–Lal, the movie follows the struggle of two real estate agents, who infiltrate a working-class colony overrun by goons to deceitfully vacate the place to make way for a corporate project.
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6) Manichitrathazhu: Director Fazil’s horror movie has generous dollops of humour even before “horror-comedy” became a norm of the day. A renowned psychiatrist fixes the problems in his friend’s life caused by a vengeful ancient spirit. Years later, it inspired several remakes (Apthamitra, Chandramukhi, Bhool Bhulaiyaa), setting the box office on fire.
7) Mithunam: Sreenivasan’s script entertainingly captures the ills of red-tapism that destroys the dreams and ambitions of young entrepreneurs. Needless to say, get ready to have your ribs tickled.
8) Spadikam: The movie enjoys a cult following, thanks to director-writer Bhadran’s iconic one-liners. And of course, Mohanlal’s performance as the town’s toughie, who has a unique way of attacking his rivals. The film is a quintessential masala movie.
9) Kaalapani: It is truly a masterpiece. And it remains Priyadarshan’s best work yet in the period genre. The film chronicles the ordeal of Indian prisoners at the jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands under the thuggery of the British Raj. The sheer scale and ambition of the movie add to all other wonderful things about this movie. Mohanlal is a revelation.
10) Chandralekha: Based on the Hollywood movie While You Were Sleeping, this movie is a comedy of errors. It is a product of the collaboration between Mohanlal, Sreenivasan and Priyadarshan. Enough said.
Remember, this list of 10 movies is just a tip of the iceberg.