Mammootty : An actor who constantly reinvents himself and pushes the barriers of a traditional superstar

Mammootty’s brilliance lies in the fact that even at 72, he has a burning passion to excel and challenge himself as an artiste.

Mammootty has acted in over 400 movies so far, mainly in Malayalam but a few in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, English, and Kannada as well. He left a solid imprint in all the languages.

The actor won three National Awards for Best Actor and nine Kerala State Film Awards. He also has a record of 13 South Filmfare Awards.

It is easy for an actor to get complacent and play safe when you are in the industry as long as Mammootty. But his brilliance lies in the fact that even at 72, he has a burning passion to excel and challenge himself as an artist.

The passion to challenge himself as an artist is visible in the subjects he chooses.

In Peranbu (2018), he played a father to a daughter suffering from cerebral Palsy. The character goes through many emotions and there are times when Mammootty’s Amudhvan comes across as helpless and very much vulnerable.

On the other hand, in the film Puzhu (2022), he played a caste bigot and a single father with an overbearing nature. The way he treated his son is similar to how he would handle a criminal.

Both these characters are as different as chalk and cheese in terms of how they are written. Mammootty excelled in bringing them to life.

Mammootty as a cop

Mammootty in ‘Kannur Squad’. (X)

Then there are the cop characters like the ones in Unda (2017) and Kannur Squad (2023).

In Unda, Mammootty was seen as SI Manikandan. He leads a group of freshly trained policemen on election duty in a Maoist area. Though Mammootty plays the primary character, there is nothing invincible about him. Mammootty blends with the surroundings and never overpowers the story. Manikandan is a man who is both scared and vulnerable, but there is also a strong inner strength. Mammootty brings these aspects with his trademark gravitas.

The actor also cracks you up on many occasions with his subtle humour.

In Roby Varghese’s directorial Kannur Squad, Mammootty played an ASI leading a special investigative team.

The role of ASI George is not a big stretch for Mammootty but the actor shines bright as the determined squad leader.

He also had some delightful massy moments, including an action stretch in the dark. The physical agility of Mammootty in the mass sequences is praiseworthy.

Many facets of the Malayalam Superstar

Mammootty in ‘Bramayugam’. (X)

In Kaathal-The Core, the Malayalam Superstar plays a homosexual who has not made peace with his sexuality yet.

Mammootty deserves all the accolades for not just accepting this bold role but also doing a brilliant job of portraying the different emotions.

The actor particularly shines in a heartbreaking conversation with his father Devassy played by RS Panicker.

In the 2023 flick Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, Mammootty plays a Malayali man James who starts behaving like a Tamilian farmer named Sundaram upon entering an unknown village. There are many quirks to the role.

In the hands of a lesser actor, the whimsicalness of the entire scenario would have fallen flat. But Mammootty, the legendary actor that he is, transforms James into Sundaram and back to James smoothly.

Rorschach (2022), directed by Nissam Basheer is another film which shows a different facet of Mammootty.

In the movie, he plays the role of a mysterious stranger Luke Anthony. He is a man with secrets and has a mission to accomplish.

Director Basheer did a brilliant job of exploring the psyche of a man whose thirst for vengeance is not fulfilled even after the enemy dies.

Mammootty magnificently embodied Luke Anthony’s endless appetite for revenge.

Bramayugam, directed by Rahul Sadhasivan, showcases another shade of Mammootty’s on-screen villainy.

In the beginning portions, his character Kodumon Potti appears to be a benevolent man. But, as the story progresses, his actual personality is revealed.

Mammootty terrified the viewers with just his body language. It was clear that he had a blast in portraying the wickedness.

Other language films

Mammootty in ‘Swathi Kiranam’. (X)

Regarding the other language films, late K Vishwanath’s directorial Swathi Kiranam (1992) is widely considered one of Mammootty’s best films in Telugu and his overall career and rightly so.

What added to Swathi Kiranam’s brilliance,  apart from the gripping narration, was Mammootty’s stellar act as an egoistic musician.

The actor conveyed the feelings of jealousy, remorse etc in a very impactful manner. Swathi Kiranam introduced Mammootty’s brilliance to the Telugu audiences much before the Yatra films (2019 and 2024).

In Tamil, Thalapathi (1991) is a significant film in the actor’s filmography. Acclaimed director Mani Ratnam pulled off a huge casting coup by casting Rajinikanth and Mammootty together.

Rajinikanth played a character modelled on Karna from Mahabharata in this contemporary take. Mammootty, on the other hand, was the modern Duryodhana.

In spite of Rajinikanth’s star power in the Tamil industry, Mammootty dazzled the viewers with his fabulous act. It is hard to take your eyes off the screen whenever the actor appears.

Mammootty also made a huge impact on the international shores with the English and Hindi bilingual Dr Bahasaheb Ambedkar (2000).

He got into the skin of one of the most revered personalities of Indian history with utmost ease. He skillfully portrayed the tenacity of Dr Bahasaheb Ambedkar while at the same time showcasing his vulnerabilities.

This is just a small appreciation of Mammootty’s recent roles. The list is by no means exhaustive given his long journey in films.

Here’s hoping this legendary actor continues enthraling the viewers with many more varied roles.

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