The second day of December has one actor’s birthday on the list. December 2 is the birthday of Lal, who is known by many roles in Malayalam cinema, including being a movie director, actor, script writer, producer, and also a film distributor. His son now known by the name Lal Jr. is also a director, with his most popular movie being Honey Bee with Asif Ali and Bhavana in the lead – it was a full fun movie, the thriller with a difference, Hi I’m Tony is also from him. Coming back to Lal, he is a man who has proven his skills in almost everything related to cinema.
Lal is a known to begin as a mimicry artist in Kalabhavan and teamed up with his friend Siddique to form the highly successful Siddique-Lal duo which came up with the very successful flicks like Ramji Rao Speaking (1989), In Harihar Nagar (1990), Godfather (1991), Vietnam Colony (1992) and Kabooliwala (1993). The first movie mentioned here was remade in Hindi by Priyadarshan as Hera Pheri, the second one as Dhol and the third as Hulchul. The two are expected to join again after a gap of twenty years with the movie King Liar with Dileep and Madonna Sebastian of Premam fame.
Kaliyattam (1997): It is about his work as an actor that caught our attention later even as he did sucessfully direct the sequel to In Harihar Nagar – 2 Harihar Nagar (2009) and In Ghost House Inn (2010). The one performance of him which most of us should remember before the rest of his works should be in Kaliyattam, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Othello with a Theyyam background, a movie which won Suresh Gopi the National Award for Best Actor. He played the role of Paniyan which is equivalent to Iago in the original drama. You will remember him from the movie, no doubt.
Punjabi House and Kanmadam (1998): In the movie which was remade by Priyadarshan in Bollywood as Chup Chup Ke, he played the notable role of the strong Punjabi brother, Sikkandar Singh. The movie was a huge hit and even though I had seen him, I first noticed him as the actor in that movie. In our friends’ circle, he was like the symbol of a strong Punjabi man. In Kanmadam, he supported Mohanlal’s character very well, and Ormacheppu was another movie to go with them. It was another good year for him as his performances were very much noticed by all kinds of audience.
Thenkasipattanam (2000) and Kalyanaraman (2002): The former was another fun movie which went on to become a huge hit, with Lal sharing the honours with Suresh Gopi, and Dileep also joining in. I can still remember the big love for the movie which was there during the time when it was running in the theatres. Kalyanaraman was no different with him playing the big brother of the main lead and it is another memorable role from him. Pulival Kalyanam and Chathikkatha Chanthu were more of the comedy movies which had his presence.
Black (2004), Thalappavu (2008) and Salt N’ Pepper (2011): The first movie mentioned here had him in the role of a memorable villain. There was something special about him there, as almost everyone felt! Then there is the movie which can be considered as the great one – Thalappavu. He got the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor with the performance in the movie which was based on a real incident – it was an emotionally touching performance. Salt N’ Pepper was a movie with food at the centre of everything, and it was a much appreciated movie and role for him.
Shutter and Ozhimuri (2012): Shutter is a movie which needs not much of an introduction; it was also remade into Marathi and Tamil. Joy Mathew’s directorial debut had its special charm and the movie disappeared and returned to the theatres as it was gaining positive opinions. Then there was Ozhimuri in the same year which was the big movie. It didn’t do well at the box-office, and it left the theatre so early – I couldn’t watch that for the same reason. Lal got a special jury award at the National Awards for this one. It is a movie which I hope to catch on television one day. Until then, I will love his performance in the period drama Iyobinte Pusthakam more than many others.
Happy birthday to Lal!
***The images used in this blog post are from the Facebook Page of the movie, Iyobinte Pusthakam.