He’s been giving Mammootty and Mohanlal a run for their money ever since the mid-nineties. Meet Dileep, the Malayalam superstar whom Keralites love to laugh with!
It wasn’t until he reached post-graduation in 1989 that Dileep showed any inclination towards an acting career. In 1989, while pursuing an M.A. in History, he developed an abiding interest in mimicry and decided that this was his calling. Dileep began his career as a mimicry artiste with a troupe called Kalabhavan.
From there, it was natural to migrate to the film industry, where he worked for some years as Assistant Director and did bit roles in films. His first lead role in ‘Manathe Kottaram’ (1994) was fairly successful, but it was with ‘Sallapam’ (1996), that he truly arrived into the spotlight.
Since then, his career has gone only in one direction – upwards. What makes him tick? Primarily it is his great comic timing and dialogue delivery. Malayalam comedies are renowned for their superb, ironic wit. Dileep, with his early experience in mimicry, introduced audiences to the sheer fun and entertainment value of slapstick comedy.
His career graph showed a steady rise with roles in comedies like ‘Thenkasipattanam’ and ‘Kalyana Sougandhikam’. ‘Punjabi House’, where he played an ambitious, but bumbling loser, catapulted him to superstar status. He’s a charismatic actor and can carry even average films on his shoulders, turning them into box office successes. ‘Joker’, ‘CID Moosa’, and ‘Kalyanaraman’, for example, with their flimsy scripts, were not critically acclaimed films. Yet even the discerning Kerala audiences gave them the thumbs up.
Over time though, Dileep began to get typecast in his favorite genre. Perhaps in an attempt to prove his versatility, he ventured into a couple of action films – ‘Runway’ in 2005 and ‘Lion’, in 2006. In 2007, his film ‘Vinodayatra’, directed by the talented Sathyan Anthikkad, turned out to be one of the year’s biggest box office hits. Critics and audiences alike appreciated Dileep’s performance.
He may be at the receiving end of frequent criticism concerning his limited acting abilities, but as of now, his career continues to be on a roll! Come Christmas, he’ll be gifting his fans yet another entertainer – ‘Romeo’, produced and written by Rafi-Mecartin and starring – hold your breath – three heroines, no less. Other forthcoming releases are ‘Mulla’ and ‘20-20’, the latter with a mammoth star cast of Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Meera Jasmine and Kavya Madhavan.
Has Dileep been plain lucky with his career? After some 75 films to his credit, does he have it in him to venture beyond comic entertainment into more meaningful cinema? Does he deserve his popular title of ‘the reigning superstar’?