The Malayalam film industry is home to a wide variety of talented artists. Right from the time cinema as a concept started developing in Kerala, there have been some brilliant people responsible for elevating the quality of the craft in the state. In fact, many underrated Mollywood actors have also played an important role in giving the small industry worldwide recognition.
Several actors such as Prem Nazir, Jayan, Sheela, Madhu, Bharat Gopy, Thilakan, KPAC Lalitha, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Manju Warrier and from the current stars, Prithviraj, Fahadh, Dulquer, etc. have all played a very important role in portraying the Malayalam film industry as one of the finest in the country. However, we often fail to recognise and appreciate several talents who play very crucial roles in game-changing films. At times, these artists aren’t even utilised to their fullest potential, making them underrated.
In no particular order, here are 10 underrated Mollywood actors who I believe haven’t been given the due credit they deserve.
Indrajith Sukumaran is the elder son of veteran actor Sukumaran. He made his acting debut as a child artist in 1986 and made his career debut in 2002. From then on, he has starred in over 100 films in a career spanning close to 20 years. Though he has featured in multiple films, he never received the tag of a superstar like his younger brother, Prithviraj Sukumaran.
Indrajith stuck to playing side roles, comical roles and villainous roles and was never offered a stylish hero role. He has left a signature touch with every character he portrayed on screen. He gets into the skin of the character and plays it with utmost conviction, which is an absolute treat to watch.
Also Read: Should You Watch Indrajith’s Aaha?
Though he has delivered some spectacular performances as a character actor, notably in Left Right Left, Vetah, Virus, Lucifer and most recently, Kurup, I personally believe that he as an actor is deserving of more opportunities and accolades. Though he has proved his mettle time and again, he hasn’t been given the roles he deserves.
Sudev Nair is an artist who made it to the headlines after bagging the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor in 2014 for portraying the role of a gay individual. However, following that, he was seen in several films, mostly as the villain or as a character who appears in a flashback. I believe he is one of the most underrated Mollywood actors in the industry at the moment.
He has a very characteristic voice and charm. Through his social media posts, he has proved his ability to do dance, similar to Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff. He, too, is an artist who embodies the character assigned to him in an efficient manner and makes it look believable and realistic. Most of us only know of him as Abraham Ezra from the Prithviraj film Ezra. But, with the talent he possesses, he deserves to be one of the most sought after artists in the industry.
Who could forget the charming Kani from Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan? The cute bubbly girl who wanted Kicchu (Vishnu Unnikrishnan) to reciprocate the love she had for him. Many of us didn’t even know her real name back then. However, over time, we’ve loved how genuinely she has portrayed the roles given to her. Her performance in Honey Bee 2.5 is something viewers won’t forget that easily.
Soon, she started being cast in similar roles and didn’t really find one that could challenge her acting abilities. In the recent hit Jai Bhim, viewers got to see the large potential this talented actress has. Her role as Sengenni in the film is surely going to be a contender for several accolades. Hailing from Kerala, it is pretty disappointing to see such a talented actress find her mojo in a different industry.
If there is anyone who is underrated in all aspects, my answer would be Murali Gopy. Son of legendary veteran actor Bharat Gopy, Murali made his debut in 2004 as a villain. He has featured in several films in small as well as big roles, but I personally feel that the actor hasn’t been given the credit he deserves.
He is an individual who immerses himself in every character he plays. The conviction he has and the naturality with which he delivers dialogues and expresses emotions is phenomenal to watch. Even after delivering some stellar acting performances, most notably in Tiyaan, Drishyam 2 and Kuruthi, the actor hasn’t been given the roles which could garner him a spot among the A-list actors.
Though she made her acting debut way back in 2010, we all remember her as Susheela in the 2014 film 1983. Known for her ability to portray comical roles, similar to veteran actors like Kalpana, Srinda is an actress who has immense potential to become a proper character artist. It is a known fact that comedians and comical actors are the ones who can pull off any kind of role assigned to them. Suraj Venjaramoodu, Salim Kumar and Jaffer Idukki have all proved the fact time and again. Srinda too has shown hints of her ability to portray character roles with her performance as Sumathi in Kuruthi.
Her acting feels very natural and gets viewers to connect with her character instantly. I personally feel that Srinda should not be restricted to just comical roles or side roles, but should be given some intense character roles. This will challenge and help her explore the huge potential she has.
Manju Pillai is an artist we all are familiar with. The way she naturally portrays characters assigned to her without even a tinge of exaggeration is a treat to watch. Being the granddaughter of veteran actor S P Pillai, she carries the legacy forward with her naturalistic performances. However, upon analysing her career and films, you can see that she hasn’t been given the roles she truly deserves.
I sincerely hope that #Home is just the beginning of her prominence as a dependable character artist as well as a comedy actor.
Mostly known for his villainous roles, Vijayraghavan is an artist who has done intense comical roles as well. He is one of the few artists who can pull off both a performance-driven character role and that of an absolutely humorous comedian. The most interesting fact is that he fits in each of these categories just perfectly, and his performance doesn’t feel caricaturish.
He lends these roles a style of his own, which makes the characters memorable. For example, can you think of anyone else portraying the role of Ramji Rao in the evergreen hit classic Ramjirao Speaking? He has the ability to carry a whole film on his shoulders with his exceptional acting skills. It would be great to see filmmakers giving Vijayraghavan some more intense roles.
Son of veteran actor Thilakan, Shammi is known mainly for his villainous roles and recently for his comical roles. He has also served the industry as a dubbing artist lending his voice to several actors including the legendary Prem Nazir. Though he has been in the industry for a long time, there has been no significant role that challenges the actor in him. He is either cast as a dreaded villain’s sidekick or a comical relief character, which could have been played by any other artist.
Shammi is an actor who has immense potential to become one of the most sought after artists in the industry because of the way he plays his roles. Just like his father, Shammi too gets into the skin of the character efficiently and makes the viewers connect with the character. Some of his finest performances would be his roles in Run Baby Run, Neram and Joji. He certainly is an artist who deserves a lot more opportunities and recognition for the talent he possesses.
Since his debut in 2005, Saiju Kurup has starred in over 100 films. During his initial phases, he used to appear in supporting roles or as a member of the villain’s group. Post the release of Aadu, he started appearing in comical roles.
Saiju Kurup is an actor who has proved that he has immense potential and can play any character with ease. His recent release Guardian, showed us hints of him being a great performer, however, I believe the storyline let down the overall impact of Saiju’s brilliant performance. Give him an out and out comical role or an intense villain role, he is bound to play it to perfection.
We all remember the foodie director from Salt and Pepper, but little did we know that this man would deliver three consecutive critically acclaimed hits with Fahad Faasil, as director. Dileesh Pothen needs no introduction. A director who clearly knows what he wants from the script and his actors. He is also a talented and capable actor, who can pull off any role assigned to him.
Be it a hilarious sidekick, a witty cameo, a delicate character role or a deadly villain, Dileesh can play it all. However, we haven’t been shown much of his acting abilities. In several films, he has portrayed the roles assigned to him with such conviction and perfection, that he sometimes makes viewers believe that no other artist could’ve done justice to the character. His performances in Trance, Joseph and Drama are examples of how capable an actor Dileesh is. I look forward to seeing him in many projects in the near future, portraying some well written and well-developed characters.
With the introduction of several newcomers in the industry, especially on the filmmaking side, I believe that great stories and characters can be developed. This will give underrated Mollywood actors the credit and recognition they deserve. Who would you say is the most underrated actor in Mollywood?