Malavika Mohanan has acted in only one Tamil film so far, but she's hugely popular in the state. In Petta, a multi-starrer with Rajinikanth in the lead, she played Poongodi, mother to a college-going boy. Not exactly a glamorous role for a 26-year-old. However, the audience was quick to notice that in the flashback portions of the film, she had a bigger role than Trisha, an established star, and she made her presence felt too.
Malavika has since become something of a phenomenon on social media with every new photo shoot she posts going viral. From ramp walks to casual photographs and appearances in events, Malavika's styling and choice of attire instantly become a subject of discussion on social media. She recently walked the ramp at the prestigious Lakme Fashion Week.
She has also done photo shoots for popular magazines like Vogue, GQ, Filmfare. Speaking to Vogue, Malavika credited her mother for her first fashion lessons: "My first lessons were definitely from my mum. Since we’re South Indians, for me makeup had a lot to do with my eyes. I’ve always seen my mum wearing dark kajal. That’s my first memory of makeup.”
In fact, the actor closely resembles her mother Beena Mohanan. A picture of her mom from the latter's young days that Malavika shared on Instagram shows just how much similarity they share.
Known for her bold fashion choices, Malavika has also faced a fair amount of abuse and shaming. However, the actor has also given it back as good as she gets. In May this year, when she posted a photograph of herself in denim shorts and a top, she received several comments suggesting that "respectable girls" did not dress this way. Malavika shot back with yet another photograph of her in the same dress, adding that it was a picture of her "sitting very respectably wearing whatever the hell I want to wear."
So many comments and opinions about how “a respectable girl should dress”. On that note, here, take one more picture of me sitting very respectably wearing whatever the hell I want to wear :) . . @rahuljhangiani Makeup @nittigoenka Hair @akshatahonawar Styling @triparnam Public Relations @theitembomb
Malavika has tried her hand at fashion blogging too. 'The Scarlet Window' blog contains photographs of the actor, before she shot to stardom, accompanied by notes on what inspired her to do the shoot. She often promoted Indian designs on the blog.
In one of her posts, she explained her fashion ideology thus: "For all those who have followed my previous blog posts, you must be familiar with how I always try sticking to a more-of-nature, less-of-urban backdrops for my photographs. When I started The Scarlet Window, the idea behind it all was to create styles with a fusion of both indian and western clothing elements or infusing ethnic elements into a modern space where it’s wearable and at the same time looks unique and gorgeous. But my love for pure, unadultrated ethnic styles have always resulted in most of my series being all ethnic. Hence, this time I took a conscious effort in putting together a look that’s a little bit of both, and is simple, comfortable, colourful, wearable and pretty. :)"
Image from The Scarlet Window
She is now more regular on Instagram, where she has a following of 694k.
Petta wasn't Malavika's debut. The actor, who is famous cinematographer KU Mohanan's daughter, first appeared in Pattam Pole in 2013, opposite Dulquer Salmaan. She played a Malayali Christian woman who elopes with a Tamil Hindu Brahmin man, afraid that their interfaith love will not be accepted.
In her interviews, Malavika has said that she had never planned on acting. After her graduation in media studies, Malavika happened to accompany her father to a fairness cream shoot in Mumbai. Superstar Mammootty was on the sets and he asked her if she'd like to act. When she hesitated, he reportedly assured her that she could do it. And that's how she landed the role in Pattam Pole with Dulquer, who happens to be Mammootty's son. The film's costume designer fell ill and Malavika stepped in to style herself. The film, however, failed to impress.
Malavika was next seen in Nirnayakam, where she played a ballet dancer. The film won a National Award in the Best Film on Other Social Issues category, but it did not create much of a flutter at the box-office. She was signed for a film with Fahadh Faasil but the project was dropped.
Malavika next did a Kannada film called Naanu Mattu Varalakshmi opposite debut actor Prithvi. This film, too, tanked without doing much for her career. She also played a police officer in Mammootty's The Great Father.
But it was when she bagged a role in acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi's Beyond the Clouds that she made the headlines. She played the role of Tara, the protective older sister of a youth (Ishaan Khatter) who delivers drugs.
Though her films have not exactly set the box-office on fire, Malavika remains hugely popular as a confident fashionista who sets trends and has great screen presence. She has bagged a big project with Tamil star Vijay, which is temporarily called Thalapathy64. In Telugu, she has signed a film with Vijay Deverakonda called Hero.