Unni Mukundan – Popular Malayalam actor of ‘Malikappuram’ & “Mallu Singh’ fame
Unni Mukundan is a south Indian film actor, best known for his works in Malayalam cinema. He is also a producer and singer who has worked in a few Telugu and Tamil films. After playing numerous minor roles, he got his first major breakthrough through the comedy film, Mallu Singh (2012), and later got noticed through movies like Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty (2012), Vikramadithyan (2014), KL 10 Patthu (2015), Style (2016), Oru Murai Vanthu Parthaya (2016), Janatha Garage (2016), Meppadiyan (2022), Yasoda (2022) and Malikappuram (2022). Malikappuram, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is the biggest blockbuster of his career, which established him in the league of mainstream lead actors.
Unni grew up his childhood ages in Ahmedabad
Unni Mukundan was born in Thrissur on 22 September 1987. His parents are Mukundan Nair and Roji Mukundan. He spent his childhood in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where he completed his schooling and later he graduated in English Literature and Journalism from his hometown, Thrissur. After studies, he worked with Motif, now known as TTEC.
When he decided to join films, he was working in an IT firm in Ahmedabad. He used to work overtime, take leaves to attend auditions or meet filmmakers. Most of these journeys were in trains, and many times, those meetings got cancelled.
He marked his screen debut through Tamil
Tamil film Seedan, a remake of the Malayalam film Nandanam, marked his screen debut. In fact the original also marked screen debut of Prithviraj. Though the movie received mixed responses it was successful at box office. Same year, he made an impressive debut in a supporting role through Mammootty starrer, Bombay March 12, which bagged him numerous awards for newcomer. From there on, he appeared in both lead and supporting roles and received limited success.
His breakthrough role came through Mallu Singh (2012) directed by Vyshakh, where he shared screen space with Kunjacko Boban. He continued playing cameo roles till he got lead roles in Ithu Pathiramanal and Orissa. Though his roles got noticed, both films were box office failures. His next major breakthrough was Vikramadithyan, where he shared screen space with Dulquer Salman. This mass entertainer was a box office hit. He earned the nickname, Muscle Aliyan through this film. Though he started delivering hits at breaks, he was still in search for a major break in Mollywood.
Year 2016 was a major breakthrough
After getting noticed for KL 10 Patthu (2015) where he played lead role aside Chandini Sreedharan, year 2016 gave him some major breaks. By that time, he established as a romantic hero on screen, because of his cute chocolate looks. His works in action thriller, Style and romantic fantasy Oru Murai Vanthu Parthaya received rave reviews from critics. His chemistry with Prayaga Martin in Oru Murai Vanthu Parthaya was well appreciated. The film was a hit at box-office. He also marked his Telugu debut in a supporting role through blockbuster starring Mohanlal, Janatha Garage.
Year 2017 began with box-office hit, Achayans, where he shared screen space with veteran actor Jayaram. From there on, though he appeared in many movies most of them met with box office failure. He also continued playing cameo on big screen. Some of his major releases were Chanakya Thanthram, Ira, Mikhael, Mamangam, Bhramam etc. He also appeared in the Telugu-Tamil bilingual Bhaagamathie same year.
Year 2022 changed the career graph of Unni Mukundan
Year 2022 became a landmark year for Unni Mukundan. Post-Covid season changed his image from ‘Muscle Aliyan’ to a family man. After staying in industry for more than a decade, he got the major breakthrough success in the year 2022, through a string of films. Negative role in Telugu film Yasoda and lead roles in Meppadiyan and Malikappuram established Unni Mukundan as a successful actor of south Indian cinema. He also appeared in Ravi Teja starrer Khiladi, which underperformed in box office.
Made on a shoe-string budget of 3.5 Crore, Malikappuram became one the biggest hits in the recent times, earning 100 crores within 1 month of release. Later the movie was dubbed to other south Indian languages and Hindi, and was dubbed as Mollywood’s Kanthara. Unni Mukundan played the role of Lord Ayyappa in this fantasy film. His chemistry with Deva Nandha, who played Kalyani on screen was widely well received. In 2022, he turned producer with the film Meppadiyan, and also produced his second film, Shefeekkinte Santhosham. He played lead role in both these films.
Unni Mukundan – Some interesting and less-known facts
1. His real name is Unnikrishnan. When he joined film industry, many made opinion that his name doesn’t give a punch. Yet he couldn’t accept any other name. So he slightly changed it by adding his father’s name to it and removing ‘Krishna’. It was director Babu Janardhanan who suggested this name.
2. To get rid of type cast role of ‘Muscle Aliyan’, he rejected many projects. He even tried with villain roles and decided to stick on to it for next 5 years during Corona season, as he felt he may fade out of the industry. It was during this time, he made some major decisions of his career and they paid off.
3. Since young he had problems related to Asthma, and that’s how he got into gym. Later he started loving it, as it refreshes his mind, body and soul.
4. There was a time when he lost many projects, as the film industry already marked him to certain type caste roles or a limited actor. It was a time when he was too keen to experiment with different kinds of performance-oriented films and roles, but didn’t receive much breakthrough projects because of the public image of a chocolate hero or muscle man.
5. When he accepted Meppadiyan, the film director was confident that his image will be changed once the film gets released. The director wanted a simpleton boy for the role, and Mukundan fit into it perfectly. The movie marked his debut as a producer. He even thought of ending his career in grant, producing one good film, through which audience will remember. But the movie proved to be a landmark of his career.
6. His father, a former amateur theatre artist played a brief role in Unni’s Shefeekkinte Santhosham.
7. Though he has worked in Telugu films, his first preference is always his mother tongue. He says, it’s something like when he is not fitting into his team, going to play with another team.
8. He has been an admirer of super heroes since young, and owns a big collection too. Since young, e admired ‘flying’ characters.
9. He is crazy about cars and bikes. His dream is to buy an Aston Martin car.
10. If he had not got into films, he might have reached police or army. He loves sports. For the first time, his name appeared in newspaper, when his team won a cricket tournament.