Mohanlal at 64: Five iconic meta moments in his films

From Sarvakalashala to Lucifer, here are five instances where a Mohanlal character forges a direct connection with the audience
Mohanlal at 64: Five iconic meta moments in his films

Mohanlal is known for his effortless acting and on-screen charisma. Beyond his acting prowess, he has a knack for forging a unique connection with the audience. One way he achieves this is with the occasional fourth-wall breaks and/or meta references. On his birthday, here are five moments where a Mohanlal character speaks directly to the audience.

“Ende role, ath mattarkkum cheyyan pattilla” (Grandmaster)

In the whodunit thriller Grandmaster, Mohanlal delivers a mass dialogue that literally translates to, “Nobody else can do my role.” It acts as a meta-commentary on the actor’s own irreplaceable presence in the film industry. In a sense, it is also a case of a lead actor acknowledging how much his character overshadows the rest. However, more than a casual throwaway line, it adds a personal layer to Mohanlal's cop character and makes the journey with him more engaging.

“Njan athyavasyam cinemayil okke abhinayikkunna oru aalanu, peru Mohanlal” (Manu Uncle)

In the Mammootty starrer Manu Uncle, Mohanlal introduces himself to the film’s lead children as “one who acts quite a bit in cinema.” It blurs the lines between the reality of him being an actor and his fictional character. It is also a case of wish fulfilment for the children in the film and, by extension, the audience. What makes it more effective is that it acknowledges the audience and rewards their investment in the characters.

“Entho, enne ishtamanu aalukalkk” (Ravanaprabhu)

By directly acknowledging the audience and their fondness for him in the sequel to Devasuram, Mohanlal breaks the fourth wall and makes a meta-commentary on his own stardom. He delivers the line by looking directly at the audience with a smile and that iconic shoulder-to-one-side gait. So much so, we cannot help but nod in acknowledgement. It is also a case of the actor recognising the continued support from the audience over the years.

“Ore Oru Rajavu” (Lucifer)

Mohanlal proclaiming his character as "the one and only king," as the camera focuses on him, creates a strong meta-layer. It draws the audience's attention directly to Mohanlal's face, inviting them to connect the line with his real-life status as a superstar. Ironically, it is also reminiscent of Rajavinte Makan, the film that turned him into a superstar. The moment even makes ardent fans connect the journey of Mohanlal from being the prince to the king of box office.

This is no blatant fourth-wall break, but the camerawork and powerful line create an effect similar to a wink at the audience. It assumes that viewers know both the biblical reference and Mohanlal's stardom.

The use of 'Lalettan' in Sarvakalashala

Mohanlal plays a character named Lal, also known as Lalettan, in 1987’s Sarvakalashala. In a Badai Bungalow episode, Mohanlal himself stated that the use of "Lalettan" in the film contributed to the popularity of the nickname. This confirmed the intentional nature of the reference. The 'ettan' suffix stuck throughout his career, transcending the typical actor-fan dynamic and positioning him as a beloved figure.

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