The Malayalam film industry’s superstar is upbeat about Indian cinema’s growth trajectory. Looking back at his 35-year-long career, Mohanlal, who has acted in over 300 films, says the Indian film industry needs to do more experimental films if it needs to take on Hollywood.

As the Indian film industry celebrates its centenary year, legendary actor Mohanlal feels it has reached a level where it is now on par with the world cinema.

In an interview with Nishad Padiyarath, the South Indian superstar, who was in Muscat as part of his stage show titled ‘Lalettante Onakazhcha’, said the Indian film industry has managed to capture all kinds of audiences across the globe. “The way Indian cinema has grown, especially over the last few years, is amazing. The Indian film industry itself has a story to tell,” said Mohanlal.

However, the iconic actor said that the Indian film industry needs to do more experimental films if it is to take on Hollywood. “Hollywood movies are beyond our reach, especially due to the technicalities involved. They have much better production units, compared to us. But we can still attain the same heights if we do more experiments and that is the only way we could move forward,” he said.

“Bollywood in general has done an exceptional job in taking the Indian film industry forward. It (Bollywood) now has a wider reach, compared to any other Asian film industry,” said Mohanlal who has won four Indian National Awards and four Kerala state awards.

In 2011, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri, the country’s fourth highest civilian honour, for his contribution to the Indian cinema. In 2009, he became the first actor to be given the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army of India.

Looking back at his 35-year- long career, Mohanlal, who has acted in over 300 films, said he is still learning the nuances of cinema. “Only when someone mentions do I look back and realise that I have completed 35 years. I think I am still a student and I am learning about films on a daily basis. To reach this level is not easy. It’s all because of the love and respect I received from everyone that has helped me grow as an actor,” Mohanlal said.

‘Lalettan’, as he is fondly called, made his acting debut in Malayalam cinema in 1978 with Thiranottam but the film was never released due to censor issues. Later, in 1980, he got to play the part of the lead protagonist in his first release Manjil Virinja Pookkal at the age of 20. Later, he went on to do several such roles in various movies before establishng himself as a lead actor.

It was after the success of his 1986 film, Rajavinte Makan, that he was labelled a superstar of the Malayalam cinema.

“Thiranottam was released in only one theatre. This was when I was in pre-university. It was then that I decided this is what I wanted to do in future and never needed to look back,” he added.

Published in Times of Oman on September 29, 2013.

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