Onlookers Top 10: Best Male Actors 2019
Here we take a look at the best male actors of the year from Malayalam cinema. Note that the following list is in no particular order.
1. Suraj Venjaramoodu (Android Kunjappan ver 5.25, Finals, Vikruthi and Driving Licence)
The list begins with who majority rate as the best performer of the year. Suraj Venjaramoodu was that good this year that he should simply walk away with all the major awards. The actor was part of a whopping 13 films this year, but his performance stood out only in four of them – ‘Finals’, ‘Vikruthi’, ‘Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25’ and ‘Driving Licence’. For an actor who has the potential to make a 10-minute role into a memorable one (remember AHB!), this is more than enough. This year, as an ambitious dad to a sportswoman, a mute family man, an ailing octogenarian and a motor vehicle inspector, Suraj aced it all.
2. Mammootty (Unda)
‘Unda’ was among the most talked about films of the year for the relevant politics it discussed. At the helm of this thought-provoking film is the 68-year-old Mammootty. Mani of ‘Unda’ is in stark contrast to the superstar’s other fiery cop avatars. He is an ordinary policeman, who according to his own confession, has not caught a single thief in his career. Mammootty’s finely measured portrayal brings in lot of authenticity to the character. Like any other man of his age, he is presented with grey hair strands, a slight paunch and is shown as someone suffering from gastric and cardiac issues. It is the case of a superstar forgoing all his image to just be the character.
3. Asif Ali (Uyare, Virus and Kettiyolaanu Ente Maalakha)
After Suraj, if there is one actor who has won unanimous praise this year, it has to be Asif Ali. Interestingly, it was Asif who delivered the year’s first superhit with ‘Vijay Superum Pournamiyum’. Playing a guy-next-door role must have been a cakewalk for him but what followed next was a highly challenging one. In ‘Uyare’, Asif was terrific as Govind, an over possessive boyfriend. Playing a grey shaded role, the actor delivered what is widely rated as his career best. Asif continued to impress with another powerful act in ‘Virus’, that too among a host of other big stars. He ended the year with a highly impressive performance in ‘Kettyolaan Ente Malakha’ (KEM). Sleevachan of KEM is another layered character that Asif performed with utmost conviction. Deservingly, the film is set to become one of the biggest solo hits of his career.
4. Nivin Pauly (Moothon)
Nivin Pauly in ‘Moothon’ is a classic example of an actor surrendering completely to a director’s vision. The end result is Nivin delivering a stunner of a performance like never before. As the film is set in different timelines, the actor appears in two looks, one as Akbar, an ordinary youngster who identifies his sexual orientation lately and the other as Bhai, a cruel ruffian who controls a part of the Mumbai underbelly. In both these portrayals, Nivin is extremely convincing as he projects different body languages and mannerisms. His heavy, gross physique, in particular, adds immense believability to the sloppy life that Bhai leads. Watch out for these two scenes – the one in front of the mirror after Akbar falls in love for the first time and the final confrontation with Salim (Shashank Arora).
5. Soubin Shahir (Kumbalangi Nights, Virus)
Continuing his rich form from last year was Soubin Shahir. As Saji Napolean, the capricious and irresponsible elder brother in a family of four siblings, Soubin displayed amazing acting chops. The scene where he breaks down uncontrollably while hugging the psychiatrist close is easily among the best cinematic moments in Indian cinema this year. Unnikrishnan, the character in ‘Virus’, though short in duration, was also made memorable by this fine actor.
6. Fahadh Faasil (Kumbalangi Nights)
Just like Parvathy among the female actors, Fahadh Faasil has also consistently made it to all the ‘best performers’ lists in the last few years. This year, the actor came up with an extraordinary performance while playing Shammi in ‘Kumbalangi Nights’. It is a character that could have faltered severely in the hands of a lesser actor. Fahadh though was unmatchable. As the vile patriarch, who takes it upon himself to ‘protect’ his wife’s family, Fahadh delivers what we can call an eccentric performance. His devilish stares and those evil smiles are images that will be hard to forget for a long time.
7. Shine Tom Chacko (Ishq)
In debutant director Anuraj Manohar’s ‘Ishq’, there actually are two leads, Sachy played by Shane Nigam and Alwyn played by Shine Tom Chacko. It is an interestingly woven story where the tables keep turning. The hunter becomes the hunted. Both the actors were brilliant with their performances, with Shine even outperforming Shane at times. Initially, Shine’s Alwyn is shown as this despicable creep you wish to punch on the face but in the latter half, we somewhere start sympathizing with the character, atleast in tiny bits, and that is where Shine scores as an actor. Easily, one of his best ever performances. Also, not to forget his character in ‘Unda’ and his hilarious act in the tense climax.
8. Vinay Forrt (Thamaasha)
2019 saw the comeback of Vinay Forrt, a talented actor whose potential has not been tapped much. In Ashraf Hamza’s heartwarming film ‘Thamaasha’, Vinay played a college professor who is insecure about his baldness. Interestingly, Sreenivasan of ‘Thamaasha’ had shades of Vinay Forrt’s own Vimal, also a professor, from ‘Premam’. However, the actor succeeded in not repeating himself. He played Sreenivasan subtly with a distinct body language by relying more on his quirky facial expressions. With his adorable smile and instantly likeable charm, Vinay Forrt made it easy for the audience to root for Sreenivasan. For almost a year, the actor solely concentrated on this movie and one can easily say that his efforts have bore fruits.
9. Shane Nigam (Kumbalangi Nights, Ishq, Valiya Perunnal)
Towards the end of the year, Shane Nigam was constantly in the news for all the wrong reasons. Thanks to the glaring media attention, he is already a household name among the Malayali audience. But leaving aside all the controversies, Shane Nigam is still one of the finest performers we have today and his films this year is a testament to that. His performances in ‘Kumbalangi Nights’, ‘Ishq’ and ‘Valiya Perunnal’ were all equally good and deserved to be talked about. Bobby of ‘KN’ must be among Shane’s most popular characters as it struck a chord instantly with the youth audience. Most of his dialogues from the film are already popular meme materials. In ‘Ishq’, he traversed the fine line between good and evil effortlessly. ‘Valiya Perunnal’ had him in his comfort zone and that ease was there to be seen in his performance. Thanks to this film, his incredible dancing skills were finally utilized properly.
10. Joju George (Chola, Porinju Mariam Jose)
The National award winner from last year gave a couple of power-packed performances in 2019, in ‘Chola’ and ‘Porinju Mariam Jose’ (PMJ). In a nameless character in ‘Chola’, he is absolutely ruthless and delivers an astonishing performance. In PMJ, Joju was in a totally different league altogether. His towering physique itself ensured that he looks like a ‘kattalan’. Rather than the gravity defying stunts or the realistically choreographed ones, Joju went the old school way where a character fights with his physical might and the end result here is what we call, pure mass. This is probably the first time that Joju has done a full length mass role and he was safe in the hands of ace filmmaker Joshiy. The actor also proved his versatility by doing brief but notable roles in films like ‘Lonappante Mamodeesa’, ‘June’ and ‘Valiya Perunnal’.