Cuba Mukundan - Arabikkatha (2007)
Malayalis will find it very difficult to forget the staunch Communist Cuba Mukundan who would do anything to stand by his belief and faith in the Communist party. Mukundan’s fascination with the country Cuba and its politics gave him the nickname of Cuba Mukundan. And since it is Sreenivasan playing the role, every other person living in our state could relate to the character. Iqbal Kuttippuram, Lal Jose and Sreenivasan gave a light-hearted, but hard hitting movie with a great message.
Radhakrishnan/Radha - Chaanthupottu (2005)
Radhakrishnan was born as a boy, but his grandmother (who always wished for a girl child, but never got one) brought him up like a girl. Thus Radhakrishnan became Radha, a man who walks, talks and behaves like a woman.
Dileep, in one of his best performances ever, immortalised Radha through amazing body language, dialogue delivery and his own typical sense of humour. It was indeed a very difficult character to play and Dileep came out in flying colours. The word ‘Radha’ became a regularly used term from then on, for such effeminate people. Benny P Nayarambalam wrote the movie for director Lal Jose.
Sivan Kutty - Bhramaram (2009)
Blessy’s Bhramaram had a really complex character called Sivan Kutty who was somewhere between being a hero and an anti-hero.
The audience could not guess what that person was going to do in the very next second. He would appear to be soft and loving one second and cruel and cunning the next. The unpredictability of the character and his motive was the main factor that kept this thriller going. An extremely emotional climax and an outburst saw the performer in Mohanlal in stunning form after a long time.
Balamani - Nandanam (2002)
Balamani is easily the strongest female character to have come out in this decade.
Navya Nair as the strong, yet vulnerable housemaid Balamani gave an award winning performance. Ranjith created a strong and definite character for this girl who was the main protagonist of the movie.
Her innocence, romance, dedication, truthfulness, devotion and helplessness are all captured in this beautiful movie. The divine intervention angle made things more interesting as well.
Kunjan/Vimal Kumar - Kunjikkoonan (2002)
Kunjikkoonan had Dileep playing one of his most endearing characters ever, Kunjan, who calls himself Vimal Kumar. This character was all about the undying spirit of a person.
Despite having so many deformities and handicaps, Kunjan was full of spirit and positive energy, things that even the best among us may not have. These factors made the character different from all the clichéd portrayals of physically handicapped people in our cinema. The movie was remade into other languages but none could match the brilliance of this one created by Benny P Nayarambalam, Sasisankar and Dileep.
Vanaja - Achuvinte Amma (2005)
Urvashi made a strong comeback with a National Award winning performance in this beautiful film by Sathyan Anthikkad. Her character of Vanaja, a single mother who brings up her daughter completely on her own was a winner all the way. Vanaja loved her daughter more than anything else in the world but her world shatters when her daughter leaves her one fine day. Urvashi brings out her humorous side in the first half and shares excellent chemistry with Meera Jasmine. In the second half, her portrayal of the strong mother who copes with a life without her daughter was brilliant as well.
Writer Ranjan Pramod gave an author backed character to Urvashi and she made full use of it.
Bellari Raja/Rajamanikyam - Rajamanikyam (2005)
Mammootty resurrected his career through this humongous hit and proved that he can do comedy as efficiently as he does other genres. The one-eyed, nonstop speaking, uneducated buffalo dealer with a heart of gold from Bellari who sports a ‘cooling glass’ throughout, became a rage with the audience instantly.
But above all, it was the dialogue delivery in the Thiruvananthapuram slang, which worked. The director took care that the slang was present throughout as part of the character, even in the emotional scenes, and was not just added for the sake of comedy. The movie became one of the biggest hits ever in Malayalam and the creators of this iconic character were TA Shahid, Anwar Rasheed and of course, Mammootty.
Major Mahadevan - Keerthichakra (2006)
Kurukshethra (2008) Major Mahadevan is one of the most influential characters to have appeared in this decade. Mohanlal who played Major Mahadevan in Keerthichakra and the same character as Colonel Mahadevan in its sequel Kurukshethra was given a honourary position as a Lieutenant Colonel of the Territorial Army of India, taking into account his honest portrayal of an army-man and the reach the character got through the two movies. Mohanlal was dignity personified and people never bothered even for a second about his physical appearance (which definitely did not suit an army man) because he made all the difference through a dedicated performance and electrifying screen presence.
Major Ravi created this inspiring character through his own experiences from his army career.
Meeshamadhavan - Meeshamadhavan (2002)
Meeshamadhavan was a simple tale of a small town thief which won the hearts of all Malayalis. This thief ’s signature style was that he would steal from your house if he looked at you and twisted his ‘meesha’ or moustache. Even though he was a thief, he was among the most popular people in the village. Dileep’s portrayal of the smart thief made him one of the most bankable actors in our industry. The costumes, styling and look of the character was very different from regular roles played by Dileep.
He brought sidelocks back into fashion and everyone started sporting them after this movie came out. Ranjan Pramod, Lal Jose and Dileep created this wonderful character.
Pazhassiraja – Keralavarma Pazhassiraja (2009)
How can a character based on a prolific freedom fighter from Kerala not be there on this list, especially when it has the backing of people like Hariharan and MT Vasudevan Nair!! Pazhassiraja had Mammootty as the majestic freedom fighter who led guerilla warfare through the jungles of Wayanad against the British army. Mammootty played Pazhassiraja in a subtle, elegant and inspiring way and was magnificence personified. The royal aura he brought to the character through his majestic looks certainly needs a mention.
Barber Balan - Kadha Parayumbol (2007)
Kadha Parayumbol was a simplistic movie which went on to make a huge impact all over the country. Sreenivasan, who also wrote the movie, played the protagonist Barber Balan. The movie showcased the life of a poor barber, which becomes tough when his old friend who is now a superstar lands in his village. The movie had a strong undercurrent of sarcastic humour, very typical of Sreenivasan. And like all his characters, this one was also instantly lapped up by the audience.
The heavy-duty emotional climax was the high point of this sweet and simple movie. The movie was made in Tamil and Hindi with bigger money and stars. But the remakes couldn’t achieve the success that this movie, directed by M Mohanan got.
Poovalli Induchoodan - Narasimham (2000)
Narasimham was the mother of all superhits and shattered all the box office records till then. It had Mohanlal in yet another appealing larger than life character, Poovalli Induchoodan. The character created by Ranjith and his punchline, ‘Nee Po Mone Dinesha’ immediately achieved an iconic status. There couldn’t be a single Malayali who haven’t used this phrase at some point in his life after Narasimham. With firebrand dialogues and superb stunt sequences coming one after the other, director Shaji Kailas ensured that the audience were provided with ultimate entertainment.
Mohanlal, as the mighty Induchoodan stood tall above everything else in the movie. His dialogues were learned by heart by hundreds of fans and most of them would still remember them. Mohanlal reached new heights of superstardom through this movie.
Operator Madhavan & Kochundapri - Kaazhcha (2003)
Probably one of the best movies ever made in Malayalam, Blessy’s Kaazhcha had two of the most unforgettable characters we have come across - Mammootty’s Operator Madhavan and the Gujarati boy Kochundapri, played by Yash. The slightest thought about these two characters would give you a lump in your throat. Mammootty’s Madhavan was one of his most endearing performances ever and the character was so down to earth and realistic that it is still fresh in everyone’s mind. The movie had a very haunting ending which no one can forget easily. Blessy created this heart-tugging story and these two amazing characters of a father figure and a child who develop a warm relationship both inside the film, and with the audience.
Rameshan Nair - Thanmathra (2005)
Rameshan Nair was one of the most complex characters in Mohanlal’s career and the actor gave an award winning performance in that role as well.
He shed all his superstar glory and image and lived as the middle-class public servant who gets affected by Alzheimer’s disease at a crucial point in his life. Rameshan Nair still remains a sorrow in every Malayali’s heart.
Rameshan Nair was a great father, a dutiful son, a loving husband, an efficient officer and a warm, intelligent person.
Just when his son is about to achieve his dream, Rameshan Nair leaves for a different world. So, such a person slipping into this disease hurts us even more, when we see him behaving like a child in the later stages of the movie.
Superstar Sarojkumar - Udayanaanu Thaaram (2005)
Sreenivasan just nailed it with his take on the Malayalam superstars through his satire on cinema, Udayanaanu Thaaram. His completely over-the-top acting, inside jokes and digs at our own superstars (including Mohanlal, right under his nose), were all truly hilarious.
The outlandish costumes, dialogues, tantrums and overdone make-up became instant hits. The transformation from the fraud Rajappan Thengummood to the flamboyant superstar Saroj Kumar was done in a very interesting as well as satirical manner. Directed by (then) newcomer Roshan Andrews, and scripted by Sreenivasan, this multistarrer went on to become a huge hit with both critics and audiences alike.