Even as Mammootty sticks to content-driven films, Mohanlal makes a grand comeback in 2023

This year, Mammootty had four releases of which only 'Christopher' didn't do well; Mohanlal won hearts with his cameo in 'Jailer' and scored a hit with 'Neru'.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published Dec 27, 2023 | 6:00 PMUpdatedDec 27, 2023 | 6:58 PM

Mohanlal and Mammootty 2023

The year 2023 witnessed the release of more than 200 Malayalam films. Of them, at least 10 did wonders at the box office.

Mammootty and Mohanlal — the two pillars of the Malayalam industry — had an interesting phase in their career this year.

While Mammootty continued his winning spree with content-driven films, 2023 marked a grand comeback for Mohanlal after delivering a flop.

Now, let’s see the career graph of the two Malayalam superstars this year:

Mammootty’s choices

Mammootty had four films this year. Nanpakal Nerath Mayakkam, Christopher, Kannur Squad, and Kaathal-The Core were accepted well by audiences and critics.

Though censored in 2022, Nanpakal Nerath Mayakkam had a theatrical release in 2023.

Mammootty received the Best Actor Award at the 53rd Kerala State Film Awards for the flick. The movie had a good run in theatres upon its release in February.

It was screened at the 27th International Film Festival Kerala (IFFK) and evoked a good response from the audience.

Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam narrates the story of boundless love flavoured with fantasy and an amazing performance by Mammootty.

Also Read: The queer community in Kerala opens up about ‘Kaathal-The Core’

Mammootty’s Christopher opened to mixed reviews. Directed by B Unnikrishnan, the movie didn’t do wonders at the box office.

It was also trolled on social media as the director-scriptwriter’s previous collaboration with Mohanlal, Aarattu, was a flop.

actor Mammootty is doing more content-driven films

Mammootty did more content-driven films in 2023. (X)

However, the veteran actor left the critics spellbound with his next outing — Kannur Squad, a box-office hit. Directed by debutant Roby Varghese, the movie was not promoted on a large scale as the makers wanted to maintain a low profile.

After its first day, the movie produced by Mammootty Kampany was screened in more theatres. It also entered the elite ₹100 crore club.

Mammootty appeared as a policeman in Kannur Squad. Assistant Superintendent of Police George Martin (Mammootty) and his three-member police gang are part of the Kannur Squad which solves tough cases.

Kannur Squad is a technically sound film that adopts a realistic story approach. It turns cinematic in the second half and keeps audiences hooked to their seats.

Then came Kaathal-The Core directed by Jeo Baby. Mammootty took a daring step by playing the role of a queer person in the film. He deserves appreciation for the sensibilities he brought in his performance.

South Indian actress Jyothika appeared as Mammootty’s wife in it.

Kaathal-The Core led to several discussions on the queer community and queer issues. The movie was screened at the International Film Festival of India (Goa) and the International Film Festival of Kerala.

Also Read: Mammootty and Mohanlal recall their association with Jnanapith Award winner MT Vasudevan Nair

Mohanlal’s comeback with Neru

Mohanlal only had two releases in 2023.

Alone was released in January. The movie was an experimental film where the Malayalam superstar appeared on the screen. The other characters were introduced through voices.

Directed by Shaji Kailas, Alone was a box-office failure. The filmmaker mentioned in an interview that it was meant to be an OTT release.

Mohanlal made a comeback with Neru

Mohanlal made a comeback with his scintillating performance in ‘Neru’. (X)

The movie spoke about the Butterfly Effect. It had little impact on the audience due to the poor script. It was a mix of many genres and worked only in parts.

However, Mohanlal was back with a bang in Neru (The Truth), released on 21 December. The Malayalam film, upon its release, drew a good response in theatres and became the Christmas winner by surpassing the mighty Salaar: Part 1-Ceasefire and Dunki.

According to trade experts, Neru collected over ₹30 crore at the box office. Its success came at a time when Mohanlal was facing criticism for not choosing good scripts. His previous theatrical releases Alone and The Monster (2022) were box office duds.

But Drishyam 2 (2021) and 12th Man (2022), both directed by Jeethu Joseph, had a direct OTT release.

While Drishyam 2 was a hit, 12th Man got a decent response. Mohanlal’s Bro Daddy (2021) also had mixed reviews after its direct OTT release on Disney+ Hotstar.

The veteran actor’s cameo in Rajinikanth’s Jailer drew applause from film lovers in Kerala.

The success of Neru only pumped up the spirit of Mohanlal fans as theatrical success is essential for a mainstream hero.

Also Read: New poster of Mohanlal’s ‘Malaikottai Vaaliban’ catches the fancy of movie buffs

Lineup of films

Mammootty has an impressive lineup of projects.

The actor will next be seen in the commercial entertainer Turbo directed by Vaisakh.

He will also have an extended cameo in Abraham Ozler directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas.

Bazooka directed by debutant Deeno Dennis is another exciting project of Mammootty.

Bramayugam directed by Rahul Sadhasivam is another most-anticipated film of the actor.

Meanwhile, Mohanlal’s forthcoming film Malaikottai Vaaliban will hit the screens on 25 January 2024. The period movie has huge expectations as Mohanlal and Lijo Jose Pellissery have joined hands for the first time.

The actor’s first directorial venture Barroz will be released on 28 March.

He will be later seen in Joshiy’s Rambaan and Vrushabha, a multi-lingual movie. He is also a part of Vishnu Manchu’s Telugu movie Kannappa.

Mohanlal’s next venture is L2: Empuraan — the third directorial of Prithviraj Sukumaran.

Also Read: ‘Salaar’ BO scam controversy hits internet; netizens share ordeals through screenshots and videos