Every industry has its superstars, like Mohanlal and Mammootty. But to see superstar rivalries for more than three decades is rare because, in most industries, young superstars have taken over. The best example is in Kollywood. I haven’t seen such a big celebration and fan fight happen in my life. Yes, I am talking about the clash release of Thalapthy Vijay’s Varisu and Thala Ajith’s Thunivu.
In old Kollywood, the rivalry would have been between Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. And now, it’s between Vijay and Ajith. But the point to be noted is that Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan’s movies are still running and getting huge collections. So despite a rivalry, Rajinikanth always focused on superhero movies and Kamal Haasan on different genres, which earned him three National Awards.
If we go to Tollywood, movies led by young stars get huge box office collections than their legendary superstars like Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Balakrishna etc. Only Nagarjuna has received a National Award in this trio.
But if you want to witness a rivalry over three decades with five National Awards between them and have the industry’s top collection of movies in their names, then you have to come far south to Kerala.
Our two superstars, Mohanlal and Mammootty, who we proudly call ourselves Ettan and Ikka, have had a healthy rivalry for as long as we can remember. Let’s go through some of their epic box-office clashes throughout their career after they had become superstars.
Yodha vs Pappayude Swantham Appoos (1992)
Yodha Release Date: 3rd September
Pappayude Swantham Appoos Release Date: 4th September
Mohanlal’s Yodha was an adventure, comedy, and action entertainer with a new subject directed by Sangeeth Sivan. This movie had one of the best crews available at that time, like Santhosh Sivan and A R Rahman. Yodha was a commercial success, but a box-office flop.
The Mammootty- Faazil combo Pappayude Swantham Appoos was released the next day. The combo was enough for the hype. Moreover, it was a family-oriented movie and one of the biggest hits of that year. Due to this movie’s massive success, Yodha couldn’t win hearts as much.
Vatsalyam vs Devasuram (1993)
Vatsalyam Release Date: 11th April
Devasuram Release Date: 13th April
When we hear the name Meledathu Raghavan Nair, we all shudder with all the emotions the character brings. Directed by Cochin Haneefa, the movie was penned by Lohitatdas. It was a blockbuster family drama movie.
On the other hand, IV Sasi’s Devasuram was a movie filled with mass and class elements. Penned by Ranjith, it won the box office race against Vatsalyam. The film brought one of Mollywood’s iconic feudal lord characters, Mangalassery Neelakandan. The mass dialogues and different styles such as Meesha Pirikal and Mundmakkal are still celebrated by his fans.
Ravanaprabhu vs Rakshasarajavu (2001)
Both of these movies were released on the 5th of October.
Mohanlal’s Ravanaprabhu was a sequel to Devasuram. Directed by Ranjith (his first directorial movie), the movie gave more than enough justice to its prequel.
On the other hand, Mammootty’s Rakshasarajavu was an action thriller directed by Vinayan. The reviews for the movie were also good.
Because of the hype created by Devasuram, Ravanaprabhu had a slight edge above Rakshasarajavu at the box office.
Chotta Mumbai vs Big B (2007)
Chotta Mumbai Release Date: 6th April
Big B Release Date: 14th April
Mohanlal’s Chotta Mumbai was an out-and-out commercial entertainer directed by Anwar Rasheed. It was one of that year’s biggest hits and entertainers. Even now, THALA has a huge fanbase in Kerala.
Mammootty’s Big B was an action thriller directed by Amal Neerad. It was the first time we saw a good gangster movie that carved a new niche in Mollywood. Bilal is one of Mammootty’s most famous characters. It is, however, said to be a movie released at the wrong time. Therefore, it didn’t perform well at the box office, although the film wasn’t lost.
Shikkar vs Pranchiyettan & the Saint (2010)
Shikkar Release Date: 9th September
Pranchiyettan & the Saint Release Date: 10th September
Mohanlal’s Shikkar is an action thriller directed by M Padmakumar. The film had a decent run at the box office and was one of that year’s most-grossed movies.
Mammootty’s Pranchiyettan & the Saint was a satirical movie directed by Ranjith. The film received a positive response and was also one of the most-grossed movies of that year.
Which did well? Now, that’s an unanswerable question.
Now let’s have a special mention.
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Pulimurugan Vs Thoppil Joppan (2016)
Pulimurugan and Thoppil Joppan were released on 7th October.
You may wonder why I have kept this as an epic box-office clash. The reason is because of the marketing strategy used.
Mohanlal’s Pulimurugan, directed by Vysakh, was penned by Udaykrishna – the same guy trolled now. It was one of the biggest budget movies to be released then. Even though the movie had mixed reviews initially, it turned out to be Mollywood’s game changer. It was the first movie to cross boundaries at the box office.
On the other hand, Mammootty’s Thoppil Joppan was a small-budget comedy entertainer directed by Johny Anthony. The release was a risky move but a tactical one. Even though the movie got average reviews, it collected nearly 25 CRS.
In many places, people who didn’t get a ticket for Pulimurugan would go to watch Thoppil Joppan. So the rush of Pulimurugan Indirectly benefitted Thoppil Joppan, which turned out to be a blockbuster.
It’s 2023, and we have two small movies from the legends releasing soon – Ljp-Mammootty combo Nanapakal Nerathe Mayakam (Jan 19) and Shaji Kailas-Mohanlal combo Alone (Jan 26). It’s not a clash, but who do you think will win this? Comment down.