A towering personality in both mainstream and art-house cinema down south, Malayalam superstar Mammootty's much-awarded career spanning three decades has him featuring in nearly 400 films. He is the rare actor whose appeal and popularity cuts across state boundaries. He is almost as beloved in Tamil Nadu as he is in his native Kerala. On his 64th birthday, we take a pictorial tour of his life and the incredible career.
Mammootty, real name P I Mohammed Kutty, was born on September 7, 1951 into a farmer's family in Kerala's Kottayam district. He has two younger brothers and three sisters.
Young Mammootty went to Maharaja's College in Kochi and then studied law at Ernakulam Government Law College.
Mammotty married Sulfath in 1980 and the couple have a daughter named Surumi and a son named Dulquer Salman who is also an actor.
Mammootty made an uncredited debut in 1971's Anubhavangal Paalichakal which starred the reigning superstars of the time, Prem Nazir and Sheela. Still a student, Mammotty had only a single scene in the film.
In 1973, he appeared in his second film, Kaalachakram, under the screen name Sajin. Again, he had just one scene but this time, it was a speaking role. In 1979, Mammotty landed his first leading role in Devalokam, a film that was never completed.
Roles started flowing in only in 1980 and, just like his contemporary Mohanlal, Mammootty began his career playing villains. Mammootty had a small part playing a bad guy in Vilkkanundu Swapnangal, starring Sukumaran. The same year, he starred as the main villain in Mela.
Stardom was now just around the corner. In 1981, his performance in Ahimsa earned him a Kerala State Award for Best Supporting Actor. Ahimsa pitted Mammootty against that other colossus of south cinema, Mohanlal.
Yavanika (1982), an investigative thriller in which Mammootty played a cop, established the actor as a leading man.
Accolades followed with his appearances in films like Aalkkoottathil Thaniye(1984) and Adiyozhukkukal(1984), the latter earning him the Best Actor trophy at the Kerala State Film Awards as well as the Filmfare Awards.
By 1986, Mammootty had already acted in over 150 films. 1985' Yathra fetched him the State Special Jury Award and Filmfare Best Actor Award.
In the mid '80s, Mammootty's graph slumped somewhat with the actor being typecast in the role of a businessman-father. The hit thriller New Delhi (1987), in which Mammootty played a victimized journalist out for revenge against corrupt politicians, revived his career from the doldrums of stereotyping.
Mammootty followed up New Delhi with an award-winning performance in the drama Thaniyavarthanam and the record-shattering Oru CBI Diary Kurippu(1988), a mystery film that created box-office history in Kerala as well as in Tamil Nadu. His character from the film, CBI officer Sethurama Iyer, became so famous that a spin-off franchise featuring the character has spawned more films.
By now, Mammootty was a force of nature. 1989's Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha and Mathulikal fetched Mammootty the National Award for Best Actor. A second National Award came his way with Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Vidheyan(1993) and Ponthan Mada, and a third with 1999's Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.
Mammootty notched up big hits with Vatsalyam (1993), The King (1995), Valliettan (2000) and Black (2004), and scored a Filmfare Award with Bhoothakkannadi (1997).
Over the next few years, Mammooty reigned over Malayalam cinema with big hits. Some of his major blockbusters included No 20 Madras Mail, Hitler, The King, Azhakiya Ravanan, Samrajyam, and Harikrishnans.
The 2000s, however, were less golden for Mammootty, now trapped in clichéd matinee idol roles. He tried comedy with films like Thuruppu Gulan and Rajamanikyam. But the actor made a strong comeback with Big B (2007) which became one of the biggest hits ever in Malayalam cinema and is considered a pioneering film in technical brilliance.
Films like Ore Kadal(2007) and Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha(2009), in which he played three roles, brought him back to his old mould of flawless acting. The latter fetched him a Kerala State Award for Best Actor.
Also in 2009 came his Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, which is the costliest Malayalm film made till date. The film was a major hit and collected many accolades.
In 2010, Mammootty dabbled with many styles and won over audiences with films like Pokkiri Raja (remade in Hindi as Boss), Best Actor and Pranchiyettan & The Saint. The last film became a milestone in his successful career and also earned him a National Award nomination.
Since 2012, Mammootty has battled a dry spell, delivering 10 flops till the hit Proprietors: Kammath & Kammath in 2013. His next few films also did only average business.
In 2014, the actor tasted critical and commercial success yet again with Munarriyippu which was quite a performer at the box office.
The actor also featured in movies like RajadhiRaja and Varsham the very same year.
He welcomed 2015 with Fireman which is a thriller film directed by Deepu Karunakaran, followed by the comedy Bhaskar The Rascal, in which he starred with actress Nayanthara.
Acha Dhin and Utopiayile Rajavu are two of his recent releases.
We wish the actor a happy birthday and best of luck for his future endeavours.