Mohanlal Viswanathan (born 21 May 1960), known mononymously as Mohanlal, is an Indian actor, producer, playback singer, distributor and philanthropist who predominantly works in Malayalam cinema. One of the most admired Indian actors, Mohanlal has had a prolific career spanning over four decades, during which he has acted in more than 340 films. In addition to Malayalam, he has also appeared in other regional Indian films.
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 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. During 1977 and 1978 he was the Kerala state wrestling champion.
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 villain. He continued to do villainous roles and rose to secondary lead roles in the following years. By mid-1980s, he has 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 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).
Mohanlalmarried 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 Chennai, and occasionally shuttles between Chennai, his hometown Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi, where he owns a home in Thevara. He also owns houses in Ooty, and Mahabalipuram, a villa in Arabian Ranches and a flat in the Burj Khalifa at Dubai. Mohanlalis 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.
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. 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 to be awarded the honorary rank of Lieutenant colonel in the Territorial Army. He received honorary doctorates from Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in 2010 and from University of Calicut in 2018. Mohanlal is also known for his philanthropic endeavors, he founded the ViswaSanthi Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization.
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