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10 Old Mohanlal Movies that set him to stardom

These 10 classic Mohanlal movies not only paved the way for his stardom but also set the benchmark for his acting prowess

Mohanlal’s contributions in elevating the standards of Malayalam cinema is boundless. For the last four decades, the Complete Actor Mohanlal has been surprising us every time we watch him on screen. Watching him act is a wonderful feeling that can’t be described in words. Here is a list of some of Mohanlal’s classic performances that showcase the immense talent of this remarkable actor. These Mohanlal movies are truly timeless.

1.Vaanprastham (1995)

Vanaprastham-Mohanlal Movies

Mohanlal’s performance in Vaanaprastham is regarded as one of the best and most challenging ones in his career. He plays Kunjikuttan, a low-caste Kathakali dancer. Kathakali is an art form that requires years of practice to master. Mohanlal can be seen performing Kathakali with such poise and grandeur despite not being professionally trained in the art form. His performance is so powerful that it becomes impossible to take our eyes off him. Kunjikuttan comes from a troubled background, with his father abandoning him and his low caste status hindering him from the dignity and opportunities that he craves. Mohanlal, through his heartfelt performance, reflects on the complexities of this unhealed wound through a brilliant and persistent performance. Mohanlal stepped up to produce it himself under his production banner, pledging his support to contemplative art films. Vanaprastham is one of the finest movies of Mohanlal out there.

You can watch Vanaprastham on Disney+ Hotstar

2. Iruvar (1997)

Mohanlal movies-iruvar

Iruvar is Mohanlal’s first collaboration with Mani Ratnam. Though the film did not turn out to be a commercial success, it still went on to earn a cult classic status. Mohanlal’s character in Iruvar is vaguely based on the life of Tamil actor and politician MGR. MGR was a Malayalee who won the hearts of generations of Tamilians with his movies and political propaganda. I can not imagine anyone other than Mohanlal for the role of Anandan. The charisma, the attitude, the body language, everything is on point. I can’t wait for another Mohanlal-Mani Ratnam collaboration.

Read: Cult classic movies you won’t believe were flops

3. Chithram (1998)


Chithram, directed by Priyadarshan had created history in Malayalam cinema by being the first Malayalam movie to complete 365 days of theatrical run. The late 80s and early 90s was when Mohanlal’s stardom peaked and Chitram had a huge role to play in his rise as one of the biggest superstars in Kerala. Chitram is a very simple film that thrives on a sweet story, emotions, and above all Mohanlal’s charm which makes us instantly fall in love with him. Mohanlal’s final scene still breaks my heart. Even after more than 30 years, the final scene still hits hard for anyone watching the Chitram. Every Malayalu would say in unison that Chitram is their one of their all-time favorite Mohanlal movies.

4. Dasharatham (1989)

dasharatham Mohanlal last scene

Talking about surrogacy back in the 1980s may not sound like a cool idea. But guess what, Dasharatham did it with ease! This Mohnalal movie explores the topic of surrogacy in a very dramatic and emotional way. Mohanlal is the one who steals the show here. His desperation for love, the excitement of having a son whom he can call his own, and the calm in giving away his son is so brilliantly executed. Dasharatham is one of the most heartwarming Mohanlal movies you will ever see.

Read: Movies with Devastating Endings

5. Thanmatra (2005)


In Blessy’s directorial movie Thanmatra, Mohanlal plays an ordinary family man who gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The toll the disease takes on his family is what the story explores. It is impossible to imagine another actor portraying this complex character. His portrayal of a middle-aged man dealing with Alzheimer’s disease was both deeply moving and highly nuanced. Through his exceptional acting, Mohanlal brought a sense of empathy and authenticity to the character, making Thanmatra a memorable and thought-provoking cinematic experience. Mohanlal also bagged the Kerala State Best Actor Award that year and rightfully so. If you plan to watch this film, make sure you keep some tissues handy for all the waterworks that will follow.

6. Thalavattam (1986)

thalavattom mohanlal

This Mohanlal-Priyadarshan combo is set in a mental asylum. Mohanlal plays Vinod, an eccentric new patient in this mental asylum. The ruckus he creates there, how he ends up there, and what happens to him is what the story is all about. Mohanlal’s ability to convey the inner turmoil, vulnerability, and unpredictability of Vinod leaves a lasting impact on audiences. The success of Thalavattom established him as one of the most versatile and talented actors in the industry.

7. Manichitrathazhu (1993)

mohanlal manichithrathazhu

Dr.Sunny Joseph is a character that is never getting old. Mohanlal’s quirky yet brilliant psychologist character from Manichitrathazhu is an evergreen one. He skillfully portrays the character’s skepticism, intelligence, and empathy as he attempts to unravel the mysteries surrounding a haunted mansion. Mohanlal’s compelling performance added depth and intrigue to the film, contributing significantly to its immense popularity and cult status in Indian cinema.

8. Kireedam (1989)

Another pivotal film in Mohanlal’s career was Kireedam, directed by Sibi Malayil. The film tells the poignant story of Sethumadhavan, a young man with aspirations, who inadvertently gets embroiled in a life of crime due to circumstances beyond his control. His portrayal of a son trapped in a cycle of violence and familial expectations resonated deeply with audiences, earning him critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor. Mohanlal’s remarkable performance as Sethumadhavan remains a benchmark in Indian cinema, and the film itself is considered a classic in Malayalam cinema, appreciated for its timeless storytelling and the unforgettable portrayal of its protagonist by the ever-talented Mohanlal.

9. Sadayam (1992)

In Sadayam, we witness Mohanlal in one of his most chilling and unforgettable performances. Directed by Sibi Malayil this Malayalam thriller delves into the darkest recesses of the human psyche, and Mohanlal’s portrayal is nothing short of mesmerizing. Mohanlal steps into the shoes of Sathyanathan, a man whose life takes a horrifying turn after he’s found guilty of murdering two young girls and two men.

The film’s atmosphere is suffused with an eerie sense of foreboding, and Mohanlal’s performance anchors it, pulling the audience deep into the unsettling narrative. His ability to convey the torment and anguish of a man on the brink of insanity is a masterclass in method acting. Mohanlal’s eyes, in particular, become windows to Sathyanathan’s tortured soul, revealing a gamut of emotions that leave an indelible mark on the viewer. “Sadayam” may not be as well-known as some of Mohanlal’s other films, but his performance in this cinematic gem is a testament to his incredible talent and versatility as an actor.

10. Bharatham (1991)

In the 1991 Malayalam film “Bharatham,” Mohanlal delivered a tour de force performance that showcased his remarkable range and depth as an actor. Directed by Sibi Malayil and penned by A. K. Lohithadas, the film explores the complexities of family, music, and personal redemption. Mohnlal’s nuanced portrayal of a classical singer fetched him a National Award for Best Actor.

In 2013, Forbes included Mohanlal’s performance in Bharatham on its list of “25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema”.

Well, the list of Mohanlal movies could go on but if I had to pick the top 10, these would be the ones. Let me know which is a Mohanlal movie you loved watching in the comment section.

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