Mohanlal was born to Vishwanathan Nair and Santhakumari on 21 May 1960 at Elanthur, Pathanamthitta District. He is a National Award winning Indian actor, producer, singer, and rriter who is well known for his versatile and natural acting in Indian cinema. He made his acting debut in the unreleased movie Thiranottam (1978), which was followed by a role as the lead antagonist in his first release Manjil Virinja Pookkal in 1980. He has acted in over 300 Malayalam films and produced or co-produced over 35 films. His acting credits include some Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada films. He has acted in 4 professional plays. He has sung over 25 songs, most of them for the films he acted in. By virtue of his tremendous crowd pulling capability, Mohanlal and his movies still remains in the main stay of the Malayalam industry.
Mohanlal is regarded as one of the finest actors in Indian cinema and is a cultural icon. He was elected as the most popular keralite in a 2006 online poll conducted by CNN-IBN on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Kerala's formation. In 2001, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour, for his contributions to Indian cinema. He has won four Indian National Film Awards — two Best Actor Awards, one Special Jury Award for acting and one Award for Best Film as producer along with nine Kerala State Film Awards including six for Best Actor. In 2009, he became the first actor to be given the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army of India and in 2010 he received an honorary doctorate from Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit.
Like most other Indian stars, Mohanlal does not have a theatre background. However, he has acted in a few plays. He debuted on the stage as Karna (a character in the Indian epic Mahabharata) in Karnabharam, a Sanskrit play that was premiered in New Delhi as part of the National Theatre Festival directed by Kavalam Narayana Panicker. The play depicts Karna's mental agony a day before the Kurukshetra War, as he thinks about his past and his faith. He received a standing ovation each time the play was staged.
He owns Maxlab Cinemas and Entertainments, a Malayalam film distribution company and Vismayas Max, a film post-production studio and college for dubbing artists at Kinfra Film and Video Park, Trivandrum. He has produced many films under the banner Pranavam Arts.
Mohanlal has been described in Indian media as one of the versatile actors and has been lauded for his natural acting style. Reader's Digest India described him as "cinema's jack of all trades and master of many". He was also listed 80th in India's Most Trusted Survey conducted by Reader's Digest in 2010. Bollywood director Ram Gopal Varma has described Mohanlal as "one of the finest actors in the country who can slip into any role easily".
Compiled by: Sidhardh Ramesh