He debuted with Tiger Salim in 1978 and has since become a powerful fixture in Malayalam cinema. Predominantly known for his action-revenge-thrillers, Joshiy can be credited for giving a new lease of life to Mammootty with New Delhi. He has even tried to give an image makeover to Dileep. Stars like Mammootty, Mohanlal, and Suresh Gopi have had the fortune of being part of some of his most iconic films. Women never got their due in a Joshiy film. But his heroes are plenty and here’s a look at some of his most iconic heroes—they had intimidating screen names, some were fun, some mad and most of them lived up to every possible connotation associated with machismo.
G. Krishnamurthy (New Delhi): The righteous, fiery Delhi Journalist who tried to take up the cudgels against two corrupt politicians and had to pay a heavy price. What makes GK a hero is that he rose from that fall, took on the very adversaries and meticulously destroyed them, all the while expanding his own media empire. Paradoxically, GK’s life draws parallels with that of the actor who played the role. This was perhaps a superstar’s biggest ever comeback in the history of Indian cinema. He had been booed from theatres, producers balked at the idea of taking his films, and critics had written him off. But like GK, Mammootty rose like the phoenix, rewriting his destiny in style.
Kuttappayi (Sangham): The angry, raffish, impulsive Kottayam Achayan (Mammootty with his terrific Kottayam slang) who endeared himself to us with his intrinsic lovability. He isn’t the archetypal hero—he gets sloshed, hurls abuses, mentors a rowdy nephew and his disruptive bunch of pals, cares two hoots about the law and order, steals from his own dad, and used to be a stud during his college days. Kuttappayi’s days of yore get a reality check when he realises that he tried to pimp his own daughter. And that makes him a flawed hero.
Arjun (Naaduvaazhikal): Arjun led a carefree life with friends, bikes, and girls. But his life comes crashing down when he sees his father in handcuffs. Overnight, the boy becomes a man. Arjun doesn’t immediately set out to take revenge with guns blazing. He takes his time, gauges the situation, his enemies, and tries to bring their chaotic life back in order. Arjun emerges victorious in the battle of wits. In the end we root for the lad even when he kills his father’s predators. It’s just the icing on the cake that Mohanlal beautifully underplays Arjun.
Haridas Damodaran DSP (Eee Thanutha Veluppaan Kalathu): A calm, thinking cop, Haridas (Mammootty) hardly displays any of the typical exaggerated characteristics of a celluloid cop. He isn’t showy, neither does he indulge in profanities. Assigned to nab a serial killer, he goes on with his job with tact, intelligence, and an easy manner—it is a cakewalk for the actor in this crime thriller.
Narasimha Mannadiyar (Dhruvam): There is something unnerving about Mannadiyar’s stare—its unwavering and gives the impression that he’s reading your mind with precision. A hero who stands a bit off his usual track, he belongs to royalty and there is a stately aura around him. When the state feigns helplessness in throwing his brother’s killer to the gallows, its Mannadiyar who sets out to remedy that. A perfect family man, a loyal brother and friend, and a good man—Mammootty nails this man who is almost too good to be true.
Tony Kurishingal (No. 20 Madras Mail): The rich, playful Kottayam brat Tony Kurisingal (Mohanlal) is inebriated for the most part of the film. He lacks focus, flirts with anyone in a skirt, and gets no help from his equally indolent friends. Things take a dramatic turn with the arrival of Mammootty (who plays himself). In fact, Joshiy managed a casting coup of sorts when he paired them together and not just that, added a combination scene of a lifetime. Tony, all tipsy and cute, does a wicked imitation of Ummar and Shankaradi in front of an amused Mammootty, instructs him to buy branded shirts, pronounces his friend’s novella to be “boring”, takes a snap and plants a kiss on his cheeks. Epic!
Vishnu (Kuttettan): He is an incurable womaniser—someone whose antenna goes up the minute he sniffs female presence. And as the only heir of a business empire, his marital status hardly proves a hindrance to his activities. The nattily dressed Vishnu passes himself of as single, rich, and lonely and gets a lot of help in enticing naive women from his constant companion and driver—Gopalakrishnan. Age, caste, and financial status never ever mattered to him—just as long as they are women! A terrific image breaker from Mammootty.
Velayudhan (Naran): The thug with a marshmallow heart! The village orphan who roughs it out, he cares about every single person in the village. Velayudhan openly co-habits with a prostitute, but his heart is still with a former lover who is married. Mohanlal brings together the vulnerability, abandon, and toughness of Velayudhan effectively.
Not to forget these three — the righteous naxal leader Aravindan (Dinarathrangal), the angrier and younger version of Sangham’s Kuttappayi became Lelam’s Chakochi, and the cynical, grim and upright officer Nair Saab.