There are many lead actors in Malayalam film industry and some of them are considered as super stars. A lead actor becomes a super star when he has the capability to attract a huge crowd and becomes a driving force in the box office. This designation can be given to a person when he becomes a champion at the box office and this title is usually given by the media.
The first superstar of Malayalam film industry was Thikkurissy Sukuma an Nair after the tremendous success of one of his film Jeevithanauka which was also the first super hit movie of Malayalam cinema. Later Prem Nazir, Sathyan, Madhu, Jayan, M. G. Soman, and Sukumaran came to be called as superstars during the late 1960s and 1970s. Almost all the films during that period had either Prem Nazir or Sathyan. The next era saw the rise of two main superstars of Malayalam film. They are Mohanlal and Mammootty who still rules the film industry at present. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw some other superstars like Suresh Gopi, Jayaram and Rahman. Some of them has lost their rank as superstars and began to act as supporting actors. The reigning superstars currently include Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Jayaram and Dileep. Recently youngsters like Fahad Fazil, Dulquer Salmaan, Nivin Pauly, Jayasurya, Prithviraj, Indrajith, Narain, and Kuchacko Boban have joined their ranks.
Just like in all other film industries, Malayalam film is also dominated by male actors. The female actors are not given the designation as superstars in any language even though there are immensely popular stars like Miss Kumari, Sharada, Sheela, Shobhana, Urvashi, Manju Warrier, Samyuktha Varma, Kavya Madhavan, Navya Nair, Nayanthara, Gopika, Asin, Bhavana, Geethu Mohandas, Priyamani and Meera Jasmine. Recently youngsters like Mamtha, Meera Nandhan, Samvritha, Roma, Archana Kavi, Bhama and Reema Kallingal have joined their ranks. Even other language heroines like Padmapriya, Lakshmi Rai and Kaniha have marked their roles in Malayalam films.
Many actors have brought prestige to Malayalam films through their performances. So far Malayalam film actors have won 13 National Film Awards for Best Actor. Together with that, Malayalam film actors have also won several Special Jury Awards also.
|2010||Salim Kumar||Adaminte Makan Abu|
|1993||Mammootty||Ponthan Mada & Vidheyan|
|1989||Mammootty||Mathilukal & Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha|
|1980||Balan K. Nair||Oppol|
|1973||P. J. Antony||Nirmalyam|
Malayalam female actors are also not far behind as we have 6 winners of National Film Award for Best Actress. Some have even won the Special Jury Award.
|2016||Surabhi Lakshmi||Minnaminungu – The Firefly|
|2003||Meera Jasmine||Paadam Onnu: Oru Vilapam, Perumazhakkalam|
In early films there were many supporting actors but they were not given much importance and hence less noted. The supporting actors during 1960s and 1970s were Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Adoor Bhasi, Bahadoor and Balan K. Nair and many of them had lifelong careers. The 1980s and 1990s saw supporting actors like Nedumudi Venu, Jagathy, Biju Menon, Vijayaraghavan, Innocent, Siddique, Jagadish, Mukesh, Manoj K. Jayan, Rajan P. Dev, Sukumari, K.P.A.C. Lalitha and Bindu Panicker. Some of them had short careers with title roles as well.
Even though there are numerous supporting actors, Malayalam film has managed to win only 2 out of the 24 National Film Awards for Best Supporting Actor. They are Thilakan and Nedumudi Venu. But the female supporting actors have overtaken the males by receiving 6 out the 24 National Film Awards for Best Supporting Actress. The winners include K.P.A.C. Lalitha who won the title twice, Santha Devi, Aranmula Ponnamma, Sheela and Urvashi.