A Fruitful Friendship: Mohanlal and Sibi Malayil

On actor Mohanlal's 60th birthday, director Sibi Malayil talks about their four-decade-long camaraderie.

Published: 20th May 2020 10:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th May 2020 10:11 PM   |  A+A-

Sibi Malayil with actors Mohanlal and Nedumudi Venu at the sets of Dasaratham (1989)

Sibi Malayil (C) with actors Mohanlal (L) and Nedumudi Venu at the sets of Dasaratham (1989).

Express News Service

KOCHI:Their friendship and association date back to forty years, and Sibi Malayil and Mohanlal have together made Malayalam cinema richer with a handful of great movies. If Mohanlal is rated highly for being subtle, then many of the characters in Sibi's movies, be it Sethumadhavan (Kireedam), Rajiv Menon (Dasaratham), Kalloor Gopinathan (Bharatham), Sathyanathan (Sadayam), could bring the best out of the actor. They demanded strong control over his skills while conceiving and presenting the helplessness of mere mortals.

"Without explaining much, he will easily identify the character and its predicament. And a mesmerising performance, perfectly balancing the emotions of the character, will follow. Working with Mohanlal is always an enriching experience," said Sibi Malayil, the director who has presented Malayalam cinema with some of its classy superhits.

On the occasion of the 60th birthday of Lalettan, as he is fondly called, Sibi wished him the very best, before dwelling on their camaraderie. "We've known each other for four decades. He was just 20 while joining the sets of 'Manjil Virinja Pookkal', as an actor, in which I was an associate director. Our friendship grew over these 40 years. Personally, my greatest joy is that some of his memorable characters are in my filmography list as well. It also makes me proud," said Sibi.

It was through Sibi-directed Bharatham (1991) -scripted by the late Lohithadas - that Mohanlal won the Bharath Award (national honours for the best actor) for the first time. Two years before that, Mohanlal had received a special mention for his performance in another Sibi-Lohi combo Kireedam.

Mohanlal did win the state award too in 1991, but it was for Ulladakkam, Abhimanyu and Kilukkam.
In fact, while Kireedam won the national jury's special mention in 1989, they forgot to consider Mohanlal's another memorable performance in Dasaratham, which told the helplessness of Rajiv Menon, an orphan, with surrogacy as theme.

And in 1992 came Sibi's critically-acclaimed Sadayam, an M T Vasudevan Nair script, in which he again played an orphan, Sathyanathan. Sethumadhavan (Kireedam), Kalloor Gopinathan (Bharatham) or Sathyanathan are all now placed in a realm.

"These characters have mannerisms possessed by people we all knew or might have seen at least once in our lives. However, Rajiv Menon is different. He is unique and placed in a different emotional zone. We don't know how he reacts, behaves or what exactly goes through his mind. We had brief discussions ahead of the shooting of Dasaratham, but the way he elevated the character to an altogether different plane left me spellbound. That makes Dasaratham my personal favourite," said Sibi.

While assessing the star and actor in Mohanlal, Sibi has always been with the actor. "He's a performer with immense potentials. He has achieved success with all formulas, be it action, humour or dance. That may be the reason why his stardom has peaked to such a high level," he added.

Sibi wants to join the lakhs of Malayalis to extend wholehearted wishes to Mohanlal on his 60th birthday. "Not as a director who has associated with him in many projects but as one among the Keralites who love him for being Lalettan," said Sibi.

Mohanlal-Sibi Malayail movies

  1. Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam (1986)

  2. Kireedam (1989)

  3. Dasaratham (1989)

  4. His Highness Abdullah (1990)

  5. Dhanam (1991)

  6. Bharatham (1991)

  7. Sadayam (1992)

  8. Kamaladalam (1992)

  9. Mayamayooram (1993)

  10. Chenkol (1993)

  11. Summer In Bethlehem* (1998)

  12. Usthaad (1999)

  13. Devadoothan (2000)

  14. Flash (2007)

(* stands for cameo appearance)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp