Murali (Malayalam: മുരളി, 25 May 1954 – 6 August 2009) was an Indian film, stage, and television actor and author. He mainly appeared in Malayalam films and a few Tamil films. He won the National Film Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Appa Mestry, a communist freedom fighter and professional weaver in the 2002 film Neythukaran. Regarded by film critics as one of the greatest actors in Indian cinema, he was known for his powerful portrayal of character roles, lead roles, and negative roles.
Murali started his film career playing villain roles and soon turned into a character actor. He played the leading role in the 1992 film Aadhaaram, which gave a 'break' to his career. The film was well received in the box office and Murali ascended to the status of a star in Malayalam cinema, which he enjoyed for a couple of years during the 1990s. Besides acting, he was the chairman of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy from 2006 until his death. He also authored five books, and was also a Sangeetha Nataka Academy award winner. He contested at the 1999 Lok Sabha polls as a communist candidate without success. He was also the Director of the CPI(M) promoted television company Malayalam Communications, which runs Malayalam TV channels Kairali TV, People TV and WE TV. His last film was the 2009 Tamil film Aadhavan.
Murali was born on 25 May 1954 as the first of five children to P. Krishna Pillai and K. Devaki Amma at Kudavattoor, Kollam, Kerala, India. He has four siblings, Harikumar, Ravikumar, Sudha and Raji. He did his schooling from Kudavattoor L. P. School and Thrikannamangalam S. K. V. High School. He passed the pre-degree from M.G. College, Thiruvananthapuram and his Degree from Devaswom Board College, Sasthamkotta. He was an active member of the Students Federation of India. He took an LL.B degree from the Kerala Law Academy Law College, Thiruvananthapuram. After studies, he worked for some years as Lower Division Clerk in the Department of Health, Government of Kerala and as Upper Division Clerk in the office of Kerala University. He was married to Mini and has a daughter Karthika.
Murali debuted in films with the lead role in Njattadi, directed by Bharath Gopi. But the film was never released. He then got chance to act in Chidambaram, directed by the National Award-winning filmmaker Aravindan. He then acted in Meenamasathile Sooryan and Panchagni, directed by Lenin Rajendran and Hariharan, respectively. Panchagni got released first and it gave him the break in his acting career. He soon established himself as a powerful actor in the Malayalam film industry. Aadhaaram, directed by George Kittu, was the first film to be released with Murali in a lead role. He acted in a variety of roles, ranging from lead roles to villain roles, and won accolades. Some of his other notable films include Nee Ethra Dhanya, Dhanam, The King, Pathram, Chakoram, Veeralippattu, Achan Kombathu Amma Varambathu, Meenamasathile Sooryan, Swarnam, Kaarunyam and The Truth.
Murali acted in the longest TV commercial ever on Indian TV, spanning 150 seconds. This was for Air Deccan in 2005.
Murali was actively involved with Natyagriham, a drama venture started by actor Narendra Prasad. Murali won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Ravana in the Malayalam play Lanka Lakshmi, which was based on C. N. Sreekantan Nair's novel of the same name. He was also associated with G. Sankara Pillai in doing theatre plays.
Murali authored five books. His book on Kumaranasan, Abhinethavum Asante Kavithayum (Actor and Asan's Poetry) won him the Sangeetha Nataka Academy award. One of his other critically acclaimed books was Abhinyathinte Rasathanthram (Chemistry of Acting).
Murali contested the 1999 Lok Sabha polls from the Alappuzha constituency as a Left Democratic Front candidate, but lost to V. M. Sudheeran of Indian National Congress.
Murali died in Thiruvananthapuram on 6 August 2009 at the age of 55, due to acute diabetes which led to a heart attack at 8.20 PM IST. He was cremated with full state honours at his home in Aruvikkara, which he had bought some years prior to his death.
National Film Awards:2001 - Best Actor - Neythukaaran
Kerala State Film Awards:1992- Best Actor - Aadhaaram1996 - Best Actor - Kaanakkinavu1998 - Best Actor - Thalolam2001 - Best Actor - Neythukaaran1991 - Second Best Actor - Amaram2007 - Second Best Actor - Veeralipattu, Pranayakalam
Kerala state TV Awards2005-Best Actor - Aranazhikaneram
Filmfare Awards:1992 - Best Actor - Aadharam
Other awards:Madras Film Fans AwardKerala Film Critics AwardShivaram AwardBest columnist award: for his feature "Vyazhaporul" in the Malayala Manorama newspaper
- Sadhurangam (2011) - Posthumous film
- Aadhavan (2009)
- Polladhavan (2007)
- Majaa (2005)
- Raam (2005)
- Joot (2003)
- Raajjiyam (2002)
- Gemini (2002)
- Dumm Dumm Dumm (2001)
- Desiya Geetham (1998)
Lisa(1978)Mukhchithram(1991)Ennu Nadhante Nimmi(1986)Aranazhika Neram (Amrita TV)
- Gemini (2002)