Muhammad Kutty aka Mammootty is an award-winning Malayalam film actor and is one of the reigning superstars in Malayalam cinema. Mammootty, along with Kamal Haasan, holds the record of winning the National Film Award for Best Actor the most number of times. In 1998, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri for his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema. Mammootty is also the Chairman of Malayalam Communications, which runs some popular Malayalam TV channels like Kairali TV, People TV and Channel We. Mammootty has promoted humanitarian causes throughout Kerala, and he is the Goodwill Ambassador of the Akshaya project.
During a career spanning more than quarter of a century, he has acted in more than 300 films as the lead actor in Malayalam movies, a distinction he shares with Prem Nazir. Mammootty is considered by many critics to be one of the finest actors in Indian cinema who excels in both art and commercial films. Mammootty was born in Chempu, near Vaikom in Kottayam, India in a middle class Muslim family to Ismail, an agriculturist, and Fatima, a housewife. Along with his siblings, he grew up in Chempu, Vaikom. During his school life, he was involved with sports and arts. He received his education from the Maharajas College, Kochi, and then studied law at Ernakulam Government Law College. He also practiced law for two years in Manjeri. He married Sulfath in 1980 and has a daughter, Surumi and a son, Dulquar Salman.
Vilkanundu Swapnangal penned by Nair and directed by M Azad was officially Mammootty's first notable film. His roles in films like Mela where he played a Circus artist, and Thrishna directed by IV Sasi got him noticed. His first super hit film as a hero was Thrishna (1981). After its success, Mammootty and IV Sasi created many hits together like Aavanazhi and Inspector Balram. The role of a police officer in the investigative thriller Yavanika (1982) directed by KG George cemented his position as a leading hero in Malayalam cinema.
Known for his style and dialogue delivery, Mammootty played the role of a tough cop in action and investigative thrillers in many of his successful films. In 1981, he got his first award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Ahimsa. From 1982 to 1984, Mammootty evolved into a commercially viable hero in mainstream Malayalam cinema.
Between 1982 and 1986, Mammootty acted in more than 150 films as a hero. During this period, Mammootty managed the rare distinction of appearing as the hero in an astonishing 35 movies released in a single year, 1986. In 1988, Mammootty delivered one of the biggest hits in the history of Malayalam Cinema with his Oru CBI Diary Kurippu. Following the success of the first CBI film, three more murder mystery sequels were made and all of them turned out to be super hits at the box office. In 2008, Mammootty delivered another blockbuster Annan Thambi, said to be the biggest hit in Malayalam surpassing the record of Rajamanikyam. Another 2008 movie, Mayabazaar, holds the record for Highest Channel rights in the Malayalam film industry. It sold the channel rights for Rs 1.3 crores, breaking his own record of Rs 1.1 crores for Annan Thambi.
Mammootty had crossed the boundaries of Malayalam cinema and acted in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English films. Kandukondain Kandukondain (an adaptation of Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility) directed by Rajiv Menon gained him widespread popularity throughout the nation. However, his maiden Bollywood film as hero, Dhartiputra, failed at the box office, though he bagged the coveted Rajat Kamal for best acting.
Mammootty is also the patron of the Pain and Palliative care Society, a charitable organisation in Kerala for improving the quality of life among cancer patients. Mammootty and Dubai-based businessman MA Yusuf Ali have also proposed a Smart City project in Kochi that could potentially bring over 90,000 jobs in the Information Technology and allied sectors in Kerala. Mammootty is also appearing in a new role on television, giving tips on ways to master the computer keyboard or browse the internet.
Even though Mammootty is regarded as a high quality actor, he is often criticised for his poor dancing performance in films.
Mammootty is known to be close to the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He is the chairman of Malayalam Communications in which the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has a high stake. But He has clarified that he had no intention of joining any political party.
On Feb 19, 2007 Mammootty met with an accident on the sets of Amal Neerad's Big B that could have been fatal. During the shooting of a scene involving an explosion a flying metal piece missed him by inches. The shooting was stopped and commenced after a break. The scene was retained in the film though.
On Nov 17, 2006, Mammootty was injured in a car accident in Nirmala city near Kattappana, Idukki. He was on his way to shooting at Idukki. Mammootty was working in director Blessy's film Palunku. His car collided with a private bus. Mammootty was slightly injured in his hand.
Mammootty wrote his first book Kazhchapadu (roughly translated as ‘Perspective’), a compilation of short essays he has written in various publications over the years.
Mammootty was appointed as the Global Brand ambassador of the Kerala-based South Indian Bank on October 16, 2006. This was because of his huge following among the NRIs and his image as a clean, pan-Indian actor.
Mammootty formed a television production company, Megabytes, which has produced some television serials, the first being Jwalayay in the late 1996s, which was also his first project as a producer. Jwalayay created history in Malayalam television.
He is the current Chairman of Malayalam Communications, which runs some popular Malayalam TV channels like Kairali TV, People TV and Channel We. etc.
During Onam 2007, Mammootty donated food items among thousand families in Parathodu near Kanjirappally in Kottayam district, a Kerala village which was hit by Chikungunya.
Mammootty is the ambassador of a charity project, aiming at the eradication of Child abuse and Child labor.
Mammootty is the ambassador of Jeevan Jothi - a social work project aimed at providing aid to people who are seeking treatment for any Ophthalmic diseases, Heart (cardiac) orthopedic diseases, liver diseases, renal dysfunctions, Haemophilia diseases, ENT disorders.
Mammootty is involved in more than half a dozen philanthropic projects aimed at helping the needy people.
During his school life he was involved in sports and arts.
He received his education from the Maharajas College, Kochi, and then studied law at Ernakulam Government Law College. He also practiced law for two years in Manjeri.
Mammootty's first screen appearance was in 1971 in Anubhavangal Paalichakal, directed by KS Sethumadhavan. However his role went uncredited.
For a short while during mid 80's, Mammooty saw a decline in his career. Many of his films during this period saw him portraying very stereotypical roles as a familyman or a businessman.
Mammootty spent almost a year going through books and articles on Dr. Ambedkar for the film Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar. The actor had to go through hours of make up and dental manipulations to get the right look. When the movie was finally released, it was widely acclaimed in several leading film festivals.
Indian cinema is not just Bollywood, and Hindi is not the only language. Why should our films be called South Indian cinema instead of being under the banner of Indian films?
If we manage to reach the benefits of information technology to the entire population, we would be able to raise ourselves to the levels of a developed society.
(On when he gets bored): Only when there's no shooting. How can you feel bored when you are doing something you like? Well.... it does happen sometimes. Very rarely, though.
Everyone has ups and downs. You can't always get exciting roles.
I don't consider any film of mine bad. I give all my films the importance they deserve. I look at all my roles with the same kind of seriousness.
A product can turn bad, not the production. When you start a film, you feel it will be great. But sometimes, as it progresses, it fails somewhere. You can't blame anyone for that. You can blame only your own intelligence!
In a commercial setup, you often portray characters alien to you. These characters might not have a strong foundation. That is when authenticity takes a back seat. You may not be able to understand nor interpret such characters well.
For any actor, on screen or stage, acting is like firing a bullet from a gun. Once the bullet leaves the gun, you have no control over it. It has to reach the target. Sometimes, it does. Sometimes, it doesn't. Similarly, once the camera is on and the director says 'Action!', you fire the bullet. You will stop only when you hit somewhere. In a fraction of a second, you have to decide how you are going to emote, how you are going to deliver the dialogue, how you are going to modulate.... At that moment, you are all alone in front of the camera. Nobody can help you. Nobody can judge you, too. There is no audience in front of you to decide whether what you are doing is right or wrong, good or bad. When an actor acts, he alone is judge.
Years ago, I had coined a term 'contributory acting'. What it means is that the other actor's acting contributes to yours. But that happens only if you look into his eyes. When you do, you can feel the wavelength. You no longer see the actor, you only only the character. You also forget that you are yourself. You become the character.
Sometimes, something strikes you like lightning, and you perform. You can feel the electricity passing through you, through your whole body.
In some shots, you get so angry with the other actor that you feel like hitting him hard or killing him. He may be your close friend but while performing, you feel as if he is your biggest enemy. You just can't describe the feeling. Of course, the feeling abates after the shot is over. You forget all that animosity, and you see him as your friend again.
Once the curtains are up or a director shouts 'Action', an actor is a transformed person. One advantage that a stage actor has is immediate reaction from the audience. He knows immediately where he has gone wrong, because he is in front of people. In films, the verdict of the audience is realised only when the film is complete and released.
I never imagined I would have the intelligence or understanding to talk about acting itself. I'm not being modest. Neither am I joking. But I did have the burning desire in me to be an actor.
Acting in good, realistic movies is very easy. It is very difficult to act in a commercial setup. In realistic films, you only have to assay the role realistically. In commercial films, you have to work really hard to give it a realistic touch. As for me, I adopt the same acting style in both setups. I never exaggerate or make acting more dramatic. I act as naturally as I can. Acting is never unnatural, situations and events might be.