Friday, May 24

Mammootty’s 72nd Birthday: A Tribute to His Iconic Roles

Mammootty’s 72nd Birthday: A Tribute to His Iconic Roles


As we celebrate his 72nd birthday, it’s a fitting moment to dissect the enigmatic career phase of Mammootty 3.0. This ongoing chapter in his illustrious career is a testament to his adaptability in the ever-evolving landscape of cinema and changing societal sensibilities. Mammootty’s ability to resonate with audiences across generations and stay relevant in the industry is a testament to his versatility and commitment to his craft. Let’s take a closer look at how he continues to captivate audiences and navigate the shifting tides of the entertainment world.

On the occasion of his 72nd birthday, we delve into the captivating journey of Mammootty 3.0, a phase in his career that defies the conventional norms of an industry where new talents emerge regularly. It’s truly fascinating that in a realm where youthful vigor is often celebrated, a 72-year-old artist stands out as the most promising actor. Mammootty, with his remarkable 52-year career, three National Film Awards, seven Kerala State Film Awards, and an enduring reign as a Malayalam superstar for over three and a half decades, could have easily rested on his laurels and delivered films solely aimed at pleasing his ardent fan base.

 

Mammootty's 72nd Birthday: A Tribute to His Iconic Roles
Mammootty’s 72nd Birthday: A Tribute to His Iconic Roles

 

However, even Mammootty found himself in that predictable rut for a substantial part of the 2010s, a scenario that many stars in his position succumb to as they become complacent in their established routines. But what sets Mammootty apart is his unrelenting thirst for artistic exploration and growth. Towards the end of the last decade, he embarked on a journey of complete reinvention, making a triumphant return to the screen in a manner that was unprecedented.

Over the past four years since 2019, Mammootty has exhibited unparalleled excellence in portraying diverse characters, immersing himself deeply in their nuances, and fearlessly embracing a wide spectrum of genres and roles. This renaissance in his career is not an entirely new phenomenon. In the 1980s, after a series of setbacks, he underwent a significant transformation, making a remarkable comeback with “New Delhi” (1987). Hence, the actor we witness today can aptly be described as Mammootty 3.0.

Back in 2016-2018, a period that saw the release of 14 films of subpar quality, Mammootty decided to shed his star persona in 2019 and fully embrace the actor who had defined his illustrious career. It was in Ram’s “Peranbu” that he embarked on this journey of rediscovery. His portrayal of a middle-aged single father, desperately trying to reconnect with his daughter, who has a muscular health condition, left an indelible mark. What was striking about this performance was the subtlety with which Mammootty inhabited the character, ensuring that his star status did not overshadow any aspect of the role.

In one poignant moment, Amudhavan (Mammootty) attempts various approaches, from singing and dancing to imitating animals, in his quest to win his daughter’s trust and affection. In this single, three-minute shot, Mammootty vanishes completely, leaving only Amudhavan behind. His willingness to go to great lengths and his portrayal of profound helplessness are conveyed with impeccable precision. Another scene shows Amudhavan trying to walk in his daughter’s shoes, empathizing with the daily challenges she faces. Mammootty’s ability to convey a wide range of emotions with subtle expressions showcased his extraordinary acting prowess.

When director Mahi V Raghav announced his next project, a biopic on the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the former Chief Minister of united Andhra Pradesh, casting Mammootty, a non-Telugu actor, in the lead role raised eyebrows. However, Mammootty silenced the skeptics with his remarkable performance in “Yatra,” centered around a pivotal political campaign tour in YSR’s life. Mammootty’s ability to capture all the intricacies of YSR, emphasizing the late CM’s emotional and humane dimensions while not compromising on YSR’s commanding nature, truly shone through.

After the Tamil drama and Telugu biopic, Mammootty returned to his home ground of Malayalam with an action-comedy, Vysakh’s “Madhura Raja.” Despite the film’s shallow plot and adherence to the typical mass-hero formula, it emerged as a superhit, thanks to the actor’s enduring star appeal.

Shortly after “Madhura Raja,” Mammootty collaborated with director Khalid Rahman for the first time in “Unda.” This film, widely regarded as one of the finest Malayalam films of the last decade, reintroduced audiences to a side of Mammootty they hadn’t seen since movies like “Kazhcha,” “Palunku,” and “Kaiyoppu.” In “Unda,” he portrayed an everyday, ordinary man, shedding the glamorous trappings of stardom. As SI Mani, a Malayali police officer posted with a group of subordinates in a remote area of Bastar, Chhattisgarh, for election duty, Mammootty exemplified his acting prowess.

In a pivotal sequence in the middle of the film, when the cops’ shelter is attacked by Maoists, Mani is rendered almost immobile, paralyzed by fear. Mammootty’s subtle portrayal of Mani’s inability to respond or move, along with his embarrassment and uncertainty about what has happened, is remarkable. When he recounts this incident to an Army officer, the audience can sense his fear not only over the Maoist threat but also a potential health condition.

Mammootty’s ability to convey these complexities through his expressions, capturing the vulnerabilities of a middle-aged man facing helplessness, is extraordinarily authentic. This marked the return of the Mammootty we had missed watching, a performer capable of effortlessly bridging the gap between the star and the actor.

In this ongoing phase of his career, Mammootty’s willingness to step outside his comfort zone, tackle unconventional roles, and embrace diverse genres has not only reinvigorated his own artistic journey but has also enriched the cinematic landscape. As he celebrates his 72nd birthday, we continue to witness the evolution of an artist who refuses to be confined by age or convention, embodying the spirit of Mammootty 3.0, a phase that stands as a testament to his enduring passion for the craft of acting and his dedication to pushing the boundaries of his artistry.

In another scene that follows, Mani is seen speaking with his wife back home over the phone. Initially cautious, he discreetly scans the shelter to ensure no Maoists are lurking nearby while assuring his wife that everything is fine. However, as their conversation progresses and he becomes enveloped in the warmth and affection of her voice, he forgets to be vigilant and becomes fully engrossed in their conversation. Such subtleties can be observed throughout his performance in the film.

At the same time, the actor didn’t shy away from allowing others to leverage his stardom for their films to gain attention, as evidenced by Shanker Ramakrishnan’s “Pathinettam Padi” and Ramesh Pisharody’s “Ganagandharvan.”

Although his next two films, M Padmakumar’s “Mamangam” and Ajai Vasudev’s “Shylock,” achieved substantial commercial success, they failed to tap into the actor’s potential further and received negative reviews.

In 2021, in spite of the fact that his next films, supernatural horror “The Priest” and political drama “One,” caught the spotlight for revealing a more restrained and controlled aspect of his acting talent, their overall mediocrity prompted questions about whether Mammootty was reverting to his previous style.

Mammootty then made a triumphant comeback in Amal Neerad’s “Bheeshma Parvam,” bringing to life an unprecedented gangster character, a blend of ruggedness and swagger. Mammootty’s character Anjootti Michael was created with traces of both Don Vito Corleone and his son Michael from “The Godfather.” He exuded authority and composure like Vito, effortlessly establishing his dominance with mere glances, yet when the situation called for it, he entered the fray and demonstrated his ability to get the job done, much like Michael Corleone.

A pivotal scene towards the film’s end showcased Mammootty’s power as an actor and superstar. In this scene, Michael confronts a group of rivals, issuing a dire warning about the consequences of crossing his path. The expression Mammootty portrays in this moment is unparalleled, rendering the character truly unique. Fuelled by rage, a devilish smile on his lips, eyes gleaming with moisture reflecting the car’s lights before him, muscles tensed and unwavering despite his henchmen’s attempts to restrain him, Michael signifies his willingness to push the boundaries of evil. This scene encapsulates the many facets of Mammootty’s talent.

The actor’s next project, “CBI 5: The Brain,” marked the fifth installment in the iconic CBI franchise, in which he reprised his role as the quintessential sleuth Sethurama Iyer. Despite the film’s subpar quality, Kerala embraced CBI 5 mainly due to Mammootty’s enduring portrayal of this character over the past 34 years.

Raising the bar constantly, Mammootty continued to demonstrate his incredible acting prowess in Ratheena’s “Puzhu,” where he portrayed an antagonist. It’s impossible to single out a particular shot or scene in this film because he consistently surpassed himself throughout. Mammootty remarkably brought to life a self-righteous casteist bigot, ensuring that no aspect of the character garnered sympathy or empathy. His handling of Kuttan’s ‘vulnerable’ and ‘innocent’ moments deserves special mention, showcasing his deep understanding of the character while never idealizing it at any point.

He raised the bar even higher with the neo-noir psychological action thriller “Rorschach.” Mammootty skillfully portrayed Luke Antony’s intense thirst for revenge and the profound grief he experiences after his wife’s death, leaving the audiences spellbound. This constant evolution and willingness to explore diverse roles reaffirm Mammootty’s status as an acting powerhouse and a true icon of Indian cinema.


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