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Happy Birthday, Mammootty!

Mammootty, one of the biggest superstars of the South Indian film industry, turns 63 today. Born into a middle class Muslim family in Kerala as Muhammad Kutty Ismail Paniparambil, Mammootty has acted in over 350 movies. He has also acted in a few Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada movies. He is a lawyer by qualification but always wanted to be an actor growing up. Today, there may be many younger generation actors including Mammootty`s son, Dulquer Salmaan ruling the box office but Mammootty along with Mohanlal ruled the Malayalam film industry, in the 80s and 90s. Mammootty was the busiest actor in Mollywood from the year 1983 to the year 1986 – he acted in about 150 films, and in the year 1986, he acted in 35 films. Let's have a look at the journey of this talented actor and what makes him strike a chord with his fans even now:

Mammootty, the Actor

Mammootty's first screen appearance was in a K.S. Sethumadhavan movie called Anubhavangal Paalichakal in 1971 where his role was uncredited. The first time he played a lead role in a movie was in the film Devalokam which, however, never released. It was through the movie Vilkanundu Swapnangal (1980), written by M. T. Vasudevan Nair and directed by M. Azad that actor Mammootty was born.

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His roles in films like Mela by K.G. George in which he played a circus artist, and Thrishna , directed by I.V. Sasi got him noticed. His first superhit film as a hero was Thrishna, released in 1981. After the success of Thrishna, Mammootty and I.V. Sasi together created the mega hit Aavanazhi. Mammootty appears in the lead role of Balram, a police inspector. This film deals with social and political issues of that time. The huge success of Aavanazhi led to its sequels Inspector Balram and Balram vs. Taradas. The film, which had a stellar star cast, ran for over 200 days. Later, the movie was remade in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi. The movie established Mammootty as the angry, young man of Malayalam cinema. Mammootty’s performance was appreciated by both critics and audience alike.

The investigative thriller Yavanika (1982), directed by K.G. George, was a big commercial success. From 1982, Mammootty evolved as a commercially viable actor in mainstream Malayalam films.

Mammootty is a five-time winner of Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor. In 1981, he got his first Kerala State Award in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the I.V. Sasi-directed Ahimsa, and then the Best Actor Award for the movie Adiyozhukkukal in 1984. He also won the prestigious award in 1989, 1993, 2004 and 2009, for the films Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha, Mrigaya, Mahayana, Vidheyan, Ponthan Mada, Valtsalyam, Kazhcha and Paleri Manikyam, respectively. He won the National Film Award for the first time for his performance in the movie Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha.

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In 1988, Mammootty delivered one of the biggest hits in the history of Malayalam Cinema with his Oru CBI Diary Kurippu. 

Oru CBI Diary Kurippu went on to create box office history in Kerala as well as in Tamil Nadu. Mammootty's role as a CBI officer in this film got him critical acclaim. Following the success of the first CBI film Oru CBI Diary Kurippu, three more murder mystery sequels were produced with the same cast of characters: Jagratha (1989), Sethurama Iyer CBI (2004) and Nerariyan C.B.I (2005), all directed by K. Madhu, penned by S.N. Swamy, with Mammootty starring as Sethurama Iyer, an intelligent CBI officer.

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Mammootty's performance in Mathilukal (1990), directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, which was based on 'Mathilukal', a novel by the ace Malayalam novelist Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, was instrumental in getting him another National Film Award for Best Actor.

Mammootty won his third National Film Award for Best Actor for Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar (2000), an English movie about the life of Ambedkar, directed by Jabbar Patel which was sponsored by the National Film Development Corporation of India and the Ministry of Social Justice. The actor made several physical changes like shaving off his mustache and his hair to get the receding hairline. Mammootty was initially reluctant to do the role as he was hesitant to shave off his mustache but the actor finally agreed and gave an impeccable performance. His portrayal of Dr. Ambedkar in this biopic is considered as one of his best cinematic performances.

Mammootty Ambedkar - BookMyShow

Mammootty's commercial hits in early 2000 include Chronic Bachelor (2003) and Sethurama Iyer CBI (2004). Mammootty won the State Best Actor Award for his portrayal of Operator Madhavan in Kazhcha, which did well at box office, too. His career graph rose spectacularly after the release of Rajamanikyam directed by debutant Anwar Rasheed. Released during Ramadan 2005, the movie broke all collection records and became the biggest hit of 2005. Rajamanikyam was also touted as the biggest hit of all-time in Malayalam cinema. It gave us a Mammootty who shone with his witty one-liners. In 2006, Mammootty continued his successful streak with the film Thuruppu Gulan.

In 2008, Mammootty delivered another blockbuster Annan Thambi. Mammootty's  Pokkiri Raja in 2010 became one of the biggest hits ever in the Malayalam film industry. Pranchiyettan & The Saint (2010), directed by Ranjith was also a superhit at the box office.

Mammootty Pranchi - BookMyShow

Apart from Malayalam films, Mammootty has acted in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English films. Maunam Sammatham (1989) directed by K. Madhu was his Tamil debut. It was his performance alongside Tamil Superstar Rajinikanth in the movie Thalapathi (1991) that made him a favorite among the Tamil audience. In 1995, Mammootty acted in the blockbuster Makkal Aatchi directed by R.K. Selvamani. InKandukondain Kandukondain, directed by Rajiv Menon, his performance as Captain Bala opposite Aishwarya Rai was considered the show-stealer despite a big cast including Ajith KumarTabu and Aishwarya.

He made his foray into Hindi films through Thriyathri in 1989. Mammootty's Sau Jhooth Ek Sach (2004), in which he played the role of a police inspector won critical acclaim but the film didn't do well at the box office. Mammootty also acted in Telugu films such as Swati Kiranam and Surya Putrulu.

His recent movies like White (2016) and Kasaba (2016) did well and his fans are waiting for his next movie Thoppil Joppan which is also slated to release this year.

He is known for his fierce dialogue delivery and some of his most memorable dialogues are still used in movies today. Here are a few:

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Mammootty Rajamanikyam - BookMyShow

We hope he continues to star in some incredible movies and entertain us for years to come. Happy Birthday, Mammooka! 

– By Stacey Prince