A Blog on Cinema

1986 – Mohanlal’s Amazing year


Reader James dropped this as a comment a few days back. We thought that this was an amazing observation and is worthy of a post – ed.

Some interesting history trivia regarding Mohanlal’s career:

I think the turning point year in his career was 1986. That’s when he was shifted upwards to super stardom. It is unbelievable when one looks at the releases of his films during that one year.

  1. Ninnishtam Ennishtam (Director: Priyadarshan)
  2. Mazha Peyyunnu Maddalam Kottunnu (Director: Priyadarshan)
  3. Hello My Dear Wrong Number (Director: Priyadarshan)
  4. Thalavattam (Director: Priyadarshan)
  5. Sanmanassullavarku Samadhanam (Director: Sathyan Anthikad)
  6. T. P. Balagopalan M.A. (Director: Sathyan Anthikad)
  7. Gandhinagar 2nd Street (Director: Sathyan Anthikad)
  8. Kariyilakkattupole (Director: Padmarajan)
  9. Desatanakkili Karayarilla (Director: Padmarajan)
  10. Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal (Director: Padmarajan)
  11. Rajavinte Makan (Director: Thampi Kannanthanam)
  12. Sughamo Devi (Director: Venu Nagavally)
  13. Yuvajanolsavam (Director: Sreekumaran Thambi)
  14. Mizhineerpookkal (Director: Kamal)
  15. Panchagni (Director: Hariharan)
  16. Abhayam Thedi (dir. IV Sasi)

He was lucky to be there at the right time. He got the best screenplays and directors.

I don’t think any actors from the next generation would have such a luck. Though Fahad Fazil seems to be on fire.



  1. It was Aleppey Ashraf who directed ‘Ninnishtam ennishtm’… The sceenplay was written by Priyadarshan.
    Onnu muthal poojyam vare, doore doore oru koodu koottam, Kunjattakkilikal, january oru orma, Adiverukal were the other major releases of the year…
    He appeared in 36 movies in 1986..

  2. Sebastian, Please can you post the entire list of 36 films of Mohanlal in 1986? That is incredible and probably a world record!

  3. Incidentally, Mammotty also had 35 releases in the year 1986. I just wonder what kind of treat the cine goers had that year….

  4. Find the list of Movies of Mohanlal released in 1986 and some interesting facts. Only 34 I was able to get from website

    Sukhamo Devi
    Namukku Parkkan
    Rajavinte Makan
    Gandhinagar Second Street
    T. P. Balagopalan M.A.
    Revathikkoru Pavakkutti
    Deshadanakkili Karayarilla
    Sanmanassullavarku Samadhanam
    Manassil Oru Manimuthu
    Ente Entethu Mathram Shalini
    Onnu Muthal Poojyam Vare
    Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam
    Poomukhappadiyil Ninneyum Kathu
    Iniyum Kurukshetram
    Neram Pularumbol
    Hello My Dear Wrong Number
    Abhayam Thedi
    Mazha Peyyunnu Maddalam Kottunnu
    Oppam Oppathinoppam
    Pappan Priyappetta Pappan
    Ninnishtam Ennishtam

    Out of which Lizzy was part of 8 films, 7 films with Karthika, 9 films with Mammootty (including a single scene in Mazha peyyunnu, madhalam kottunnu), Sreenivasan part of 7 movies 5 movies directed by Sathyan Anthikad, 5 movies with Sasikumar, 4 movies with Priyadarshan, 3 movies with Padmarajan. Barring few movies he played the roles of common man like Gurkha in Gandhinagar 2nd street, house owner in sanmanasullavarku samadhanam etc etc. In short, Mohanlal attained superstardom by doing roles of common man not super heroes.

  5. Pranamam was a 1986 movie directed by bharathan. The film featured Mammotty & Mohanlal though the pivotal roles were done by Ashokan & Suhasini

  6. Some other facts on Malayalam cinema during 1982-1988. There could be slight variations in figures and there are some movies in which Mohanlal and Mammootty acted together

    Mohanlal acted in 152 films during this time that means he had a release in every 15 days.

    12 movies in 1988
    14 movies in 1987
    34 movies in 1986
    25 in 1985
    26 in 1984
    27 in 1983
    14 in 1982

    Mammootty acted in 188 films during this period that means he had a release in every 13 days.

    12 movies in 1988
    15 movies in 1987
    35 in 1986
    34 in 1985
    34 in 1984
    35 in 1983
    23 in 1982

    Joshi directed 39 movies during this time that means every 65 days there was a new Joshi movie in theatres followed by I.V. Sasi with 37 movies. Director Sasikumar was part of 30 movies, P.G. Vishwambaran was part of 25 movies, Priyadarshan – 19 movies, Sathyan Anthikad – 19 movies Padmarajan – 18 movies, Balachandra Menon – 17 movies and Bharathan – 15 movies.

    Really this must be the golden era of Malayalam movies.

  7. He was lucky to get these scripts, true. But these film-makers were also lucky to have a talent like mohanlal. Mohanlal entered as villain in 1980. I remember old-timers saying how ugly he looked. For the next 3-4 years he was just one among the many new comers. Its because of his shear talent and attitude that he worked his way to the top ahead of many others. There were Shankar, Lalu Alex, Ratheesh, Mukesh, Raju and many more. Why did all the good film-makers flock only Lal? Because they needed his talent.

    Remember Appuni (1984)? Nedumudi Venu was the hero, but Mohanlal stole the show from right under his nose. That resulted in lead roles with Sathyan Anthikkad.

    Similarly I remember Padmarajan’s son saying in an interview how his dad was impressed with Mohanlal in Kariyila Katupole and marked him as one for the future.

    Hariharan has mentioned how Mohanlal elevated Dr. Haridas’s character to unimaginable levels in Amritamgamaya.

    Also worth mentioning is his ability to do any kind of role.

    Drama – MT/Lohitadas
    Humor – Sreenivasan
    Romance – Padmarajan
    Larger than life action – Thampi Kanandanam/K Madhu

    All these guys wanted to work with him. There would have been scheduling problems with so many movies, but they waited for him. All this even before he was a superstar (1986).

    Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!

  8. Rahul makes an excellent point. Talent and also hard work made him be the star he is today. But talent being a biggie. I think when people thought of lead actors, a good looking guy was always a major criteria for this. This was the same way back in those days (Ratheesh) and even now (Unni Mukundan). Mohanlal is the only lead actor probably in India to break that image.

    This is one reason why I, and many others, despise the rise of the so called “youth star” called Prithviraj. I don’t have any problems against the guy personally. But I just feel like he came into the industry due to his looks and his luck. Another factor might also be the fact that during the early 2000s there was a need for young actors in Malayalam cinema. This guy never came up the ranks. Also, the majority of his movies in the first 5 years of his career were BO bombs. But he survived. Hype of a new star, good lucks, and and good network is all that is required to let you be a lead actor nowadays.

    • this’ what we call in malayalam- kushumbu!

      if majority of his films were BO bombs then how can you say prithviraj had everything easy?

      I think he is a decent talent. may not be a mohanlal or mammootty, but a decent actor though.

      • Why should I be jealous at the guy? Jealous for what? I’d rather be in a junior artist’s shoes right now than his. I don’t want to be a Prithviraj.

        I’m just analyzing a situation. How the heck did he come into the industry and survive for this long? Sure he is good looking and has a photogenic face and all. But how did he just pop up there? As I previously stated the reasons mainly were hype of a new star, good lucks, and and good network.

        With the majority of his movies being a bomb for the first 5 years, he had it lucky because he was finding work. Compare that to Kunchacko Boban during the mid-2000s, he was almost out of work. The thing was producers were flocking to Prithviraj because he had the hype: the new kid in town who was gonna replace M&M. And of course there was a need for younger lead actors.

      • pritwi is an ok actor. but his looks is a major factor for his success…otherwise indrajith should have been more sucessful.

        • I partly agree with you folks. A discussion on Mohanlal’s busy year should not digress into another. As a non resident, I started watching some of Lal’s work and I am amazed at the talent of this artist. In fact, I can say that most of my grip on speaking the language is from my late life interest in Malayalam movies. I don’t understand why there should be any comparison or any kind of attempt to show each other down – I believe it is Lal’s talent and performance alone that gave him a larger mindshare amongst the Malayali audience. He continues to maintain the same albeit with some questionable / patches of toothless projects. If 1986 was a busy year and also worked in lifting the stature of Malayalam cinema – his work has only boosted careers of several people associated with cinema. With such a trail of work, new artists will find it challenging to develop a similar footing – but work alone will take them to new levels – the bar is set significantly high due to such actors – unfortunately, we see petty approach of using press interviews to put down senior artists or justify positions. After watching Bhramaram recently, I am only more and more convinced that Lal is unmatched today in Malayalam cinema – he is moving higher with time. I would not call myself a fan, but would like to respect this man for the artistic work he is doing.

  9. Remember actors like Mohanlal and Mammootty survived in industry as superstars for decades only because of their hard work and talent. They rise to superstardom when there was no televison channels to promote films or talk shows to hype the movie. They survived only on mouth publicity and people publicize only f it is worth and deserves.

  10. Huh..What i felt abt LAL was he never had the uncanny ability which many others like Kamal or Mammotty had in selecting a script. But people around him understood what a Gem he is and few used him to produce the best result. LAL always had a Class and he will deliver from his standards, its people around him (directors, technician) to raise their standards to optimize his ability.Some succeded thats how classics released, some never able to match and resulted in sub standard products. When u get an actor like LAL in the hand of talent like Padmarajan its like possibilities unlimited.We miss those directors, those technicians. I think Mohanlal needs to be pushed both phycially & mentally to the corners to get those wonderful results eg:Vanaprastham,Savidham,Kireedam.

  11. @Amal :

    Savidham? I think you meant some other movie. Mohanlal did not act in Savidham.

  12. The fact is that, there is dearth of good scripts which makes him look like another actor these days. Some thing similar to Sachin playing in IPL, Mohanlal acts in stupid movies where his talents and capabilities are not tested.

  13. Its also a fact that those substandard films done by lal might not have been done without reading the scripts. In cinema, it is important for people like lal to maintain relationships, and in doing do, would have been pushed for doing substandard films.

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