There are three ways a movie watcher refers to a debutant or a relatively unknown actor. One is obviously by their name. The other is by their screen name, provided they’ve played a memorable or meaty role (for the longest time I referred to Navya Nair as Balamani). At times out of ease, especially when we can’t remember their actual or character names. We end up christening them as inna cinemayile hero or heroine. For instance, Daisy movie le actor or actress (I need to look their names up, by the way!). The fact that the movie was so popular among the audience overrode every aspect associated with the movie including the debut cast.
These actors who’ve had one-hit wonders are best known either for their one hit movie or a signature role they have portrayed, irrespective of their subsequent appearances in further projects. In fact, there are also quite a number of actors who have vanished from showbiz out of the blue; the ones we ask each other “What is this actor up to these days?” every time this hit or acclaimed movie of theirs runs on our TV, laptop or phones.
Here’s a round-up of some such actors who were one-hit wonders in Malayalam cinema:
Girija Shettar – Gaadha of Vandanam
If we could give you a rupee every time you referred to Girija Shettar as Gaadha, you would have been a millionaire by now! Paired opposite Mohanlal, Girija made her debut in Mollywood through Vandanam. Unfortunately, her debut was also the final movie she was a part of in Malayalam, and later was seen in cameos in Hindi and Telugu movies. For a person who has acted in just one Malayalam movie, Girija has been cherished for her role in Vandanam by three consecutive generations.
Parvati Melton – Parvathy of Hallo
Let me start off by tossing a fun fact at you. Parvati Melton is half Punjabi and half German. In a career spanning seven years, she was predominantly a part of Telugu movies, while Hallo was the only Malayalam movie that she has worked in. I personally thought she had kickass chemistry with Mohanlal and would return to the screen to portray more roles. Well, destiny had different plans for her I guess! Before we could really say ‘Hallo’, we had to say goodbye to her.
Also Read: Anchors Who Became Mollywood Actors
Bhavna Pani – Veena of Vettam
Yeah, the name Veena is sort of irrelevant here. Because a lot of you would have referred to her as ‘theepettikolli’, the way Dileep’s character did in Vettam. No, don’t worry, I’m sparing you the body-shaming lecture this time (only this time though; coz I don’t want to diverge :P) After seeing her in Vettam, she made a fleeting appearance in Aamayum Muyalum as a dancer in the song Kaanakombile.
Skanda and Maria – Sooraj and Sreedevi of Notebook
It is a separate thing that the teenage me had butterflies in my tummy every time I saw Sooraj of Notebook; but didn’t he and Sreedevi make an absolutely endearing couple? I’m sure this had a lot to do with the success of the song Hridayuvum from the movie. Skanda Ashok later appeared in the movie Positive and Elektra after which he ventured into Kannada movies. As for Maria Roy, we do remember seeing her in Mumbai Police and Hotel California, but her acting career began to fade as she focused on her passion, dancing thereafter.
Chanchal – Kunjathol of Ennu Swantham Janakikutty
The cat-eyed girl who restored our faith in the goodness and kind-hearted nature of prethams (yes, turns out they are not all bloodsuckers who ruthlessly haunt people). Ennu Swantham Janakikutty, the 1998 Malayalam movie, gave us not only Jomol, but also Chanchal, who played the friendly ghost – Kunjathol. Chanchal was later spotted in movies such as Rishivamsham and Ormacheppu; however, after her marriage, she flew to the US and is currently settled there.
Renuka Menon – Aparna of Nammal
Nammal was a launchpad for an ensemble of promising debut actors but it was only Bhavana who catapulted to stardom after the movie. The Rakshasi of Nammal, Renuka Menon, did not really make the cut after her debut and bid adieu to movies after her marriage. However, you may remember seeing her in Meerayude Dukhavum Muthuvinte Swapnavum as Prithviraj’s love interest.
Aravind Akash – Unnikrishnan of Nandanam
Njane kandullu. Njan matre kandullu. Who can forget Aravind Akash who played Lord Krishna in Nandanam? We didn’t see him for quite a bit after that though.
Pinne kandathu oru chiri aanu. Yes, indeed I am referring to the popular song “Oru Chiri Kandal” that featured him. Looks like Aravind took the “Athu Mathi” of the song literally and embarked on a sabbatical from Mollywood. Years later, he was seen in supporting roles in a couple of Malayalam movies.
Nitish Bharadwaj – Gandharvan of Njan Gandharvan
Veteran director, Padmarajan’s Njan Gandharvan was a movie that made a prominent mark in the landscape of Malayalam cinema. Though commercially it did not fare well, the movie, years later, earned an iconic status and hardcore appreciation from the audience. Nitish Bhardwaj and Suparna Anand became a sensation following the release of the movie. In fact, birdies say that Padmarajan had plans of casting him in another movie alongside Mohanlal, but things couldn’t take off due to Padmarajan’s untimely demise. He was later seen in a number of Bollywood movies including Mohenjo Daro, but Njan Gandharvan remains his sole movie in Malayalam.
Tejali Ghanekar – Malu of Meenathil Thalikettu
I’m sure the name Tejali hardly rings a bell. Can’t blame you guys, cuz she was launched under the stage name Sulekha in Mollywood. Having two Malayalam movies – Meenathil Thalikettu and Chandamama to her credit, Tejali, originally from Mumbai, quit the movie industry soon after these movies and set off to start her corporate journey with an MNC.
1. Deepa Nair – Annie of Priyam
2. Tessa – Vimala of Pattalam
3. Meenakshi/ Sharmilee – Indu of Vellinakshatram
4. Ruchita – Radhika of Mr Butler
5. Arjun Lal – Manu of Thanmatra
6. Preetha Vijayakumar – Gopika of Udayapuram Sulthan
7. Reenu Mathews – Annie of Immanuel
8. Laya – Poonkavanam of Thommanum Makkalum
9. Nikita Thukral – Sushma of Kaiyethum Doorathu
10. Uma Shankari – Gauri of Kuberan
If you feel we’ve missed out on any of your favourite one-hit wonders, fire away in the comments!