The Malayalam industry has produced many talented actors who have excelled in other languages, including Hindi. Bollywood actors have also tried their luck in Malayalam films.
Most of these actors have performed as North Indians in Malayalam films as the south-Indian language is quite difficult to learn.
Amitabh Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi, Suniel Shetty, Anupam Kher, Amol Palekar, Amrish Puri, Om Puri, Jackie Shroff, Girish Kulkarni, Juhi Chawla, Pooja Bhatt, and Katrina Kaif are some of the Hindi actors who have acted in Malayalam films.
It has to be noted that some actors like Anupam Kher, Suniel Shetty and Jackie Shroff have acted in multiple Malayalam films. Even though Bollywood actors have helped elevate various scenes in Malayalam, the major issue comes in the dialogue delivery as most of their voices are dubbed.
However, there are some exceptions where the directors are quite smart to handle the situation in various scenes. Here are some of the noted performances by Hindi actors in Malayalam.
It was big news a decade ago in Kerala when it was announced that Amitabh Bachchan would act in a Malayalam movie along with Mohanlal.
Finally, in 2010, when Big B’s maiden Malayalam film Kandahar (2010) was released, film buffs were elated, but the movie bombed at the box office. Bachchan’s role in the role was appreciated though.
He appeared as a retired Hindi-speaking school teacher Lokanath Sharma, who is married to a Malayali woman. Yesteryear heroine Sumalatha played the role of his wife, and Tamil actor Ganesh Venkitaraman played the role of his son, Sooryanath Sharma.
Amitabh Bachchan’s character is a man of principles, but his role was more prominent in the movie, which wasn’t required for a movie that is based on the Kandahar plane hijack.
The movie was the third instalment in the Major Mahadevan series helmed by Major Ravi.
It was reported that Big B didn’t take any remuneration for the movie as he had only three days of shoot, and for him, it was a good time working with Mohanlal.
Vivek Oberoi couldn’t make it big in Bollywood due to the tough competition in the Hindi industry. But the actor got a meaty role as a businessman in Pritviraj’s directorial debut Lucifer (2019).
Oberoi performed exceptionally well as the crooked Bobby, who is the mastermind of crimes and responsible for funding a political party. It was interesting to watch Vivek Oberoi having a moustache as the actor is mostly seen in his clean-shaven look.
Actor Vineeth dubbed for Oberoi, and his voice elevated the scenes of the Bollywood actor in Lucifer. There is a scene in which Bobby’s wife, played by Manju Warrier realises that her daughter was sexually harassed by her second husband (Bobby).
Manju’s performance while questioning his actions and Bobby’s unapologetic reaction are some of the takeaways of the movie. Surely Oberoi got a fine debut in Mohanlal’s Lucifer. The movie was a blockbuster.
Oberoi again acted in Prithviraj starrer Kaduva (2022), helmed by Shaji Kailas. In the movie, Oberoi acted as IG Joseph Chandy and the plot was based on an ego war between Kaduvakunnel Kuriyachan (Prithviraj) and Joseph Chandy. Kaduva, too, was a hit at the box office.
Bollywood diva Juhi Chawla’s entry to the Malayalam film was with Mohanlal and Mammootty starrer Harikrishnans (1998) directed by Fazil. The movie was a blockbuster and Juhi Chawla played the lead role in the film.
Multiple climaxes were the highlight of this 1998 movie as in one climax, Mammootty’s character Hari wins the heroine while in another version Mohanlal’s character Krishnan wins the female lead.
Reportedly, the makers had decided to give two climaxes in the movie because both the actors had a strong fan base. Interestingly, a third climax was also planned for the movie featuring Shah Rukh Khan.
After many years, Mammootty said that in those days, two types of highlights were used to promote the film.
“When there are two types of story endings in two theatres in the same city, people will come to see both types, either foolishly or wisely. But the mistake of the people who sent the print was that both were sent in two parts,” he had said.
Late actor Amrish Puri is popular for his negative roles in Bollywood. The actor has also acted in two Malayalam films. His debut Malayalam film was Chandragiri Kotta which was released in 1984, and directed by RS Babu.
But he became popular in Malayalam with his portrayal of a ruthless policeman Mirza Khan in Priyadarshan’s Kaalapani in 1996. Movie buffs still remember the popular foot-licking scene in the movie. It is Mohanlal’s character who is licking the feet of Mirza Khan.
At the box office, Kaalapani wasn’t a major success.
The film won three National Awards and six Kerala State Film Awards. Kaalapani was dubbed in Hindi and released as Saza-E-Kala Pani (1996). It was dubbed in Tamil as Sirachalai (also 1996).
Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty has established himself as an action and comedy actor. The actor has a special bond with director Priyadarshan. Suniel had worked with Priyadarshan in films like Yeh Teraa Ghar Yeh Meraa Ghar (2001), Hulchul (2004), Chup Chup Ke (2006), and De Dana Dan (2009). He played the role of Shyam in the 2000 hit comedy film Hera Pheri.
Suniel Shetty has also made special appearances in Malayalam films directed by Priyadarshan. He made his debut in Malayalam in the 2001 movie Kakkakuyil directed by Priyadarshan. He also acted in Kilukkam Kilukilukkam (2006) helmed by Sandhya Mohan and Kalimannu (2013), directed by Blessy.
The actor was recently seen in Priyadarshan’s Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham (2021) in which the Hindi actor had a pivotal role. The movie was also selected as Best Film at the 67th National Film Awards. But the movie opened to mixed reviews and bombed at the box office.