For a funny conversation at the dining table, a tit for tat in the kitchen, a word of advice and confessions, film scripts place next to the central characters, a sibling or else a friend.
Most of these friend and sibling characters are crucial when there is a story to be built or a point to be made, but slowly fade into the background and don't take the attention away from the heroes and heroines they are so attached to.
Malayalam cinema has always had a habit of entrusting a few regular faces with these roles. In the early days, it would have been the likes of Adoor Bhasi and Sreelatha, but we are swishing past the '60s and '70s and going straight ahead to the late '80s, to run through some of the sisters, brothers and friends of the subsequent decades.
Lissy: Lissy has done heroine roles in several Priyadarshan movies, and sometimes as the woman in someoneâ€™s past (Thalavattom, Chithram). But in quite a few movies she has been the sister (Sarvakalashala,Kathodu Kathoram, Manu Uncle), the friend (Thammil Thammil, Ivide Ellavarkkum Sukham, Vadakkunokyanthram), the girl next door (Prashnam Gurutharam) and so on.
Usha: Usha is remembered for the character of Muthulakshmi she played in Balachandra Menonâ€™s Kandathum Kettathum, as a brave Tamil woman. But shortly after, she began playing the sister / friend role, one of the most recognised being her character of Latha, as Mohanlalâ€™s sister in Kireedam and its sequel Chengol. You see the happy exchanges between Mohanlal and Usha before the bad times come to their family. But in the sequel you watch her going for sex work to feed the family after her elder brother goes to jail. More sister roles came (Kottayam Kunjachan, Vadakkunokiyanthram
Rahman: Rahman has appeared as the central character in quite a few films and at the same time played sibling roles in several other movies of the '80s. Even as the sibling, however, he was rarely sidelined. He played the brother / friend to Mohanlal (Kaliyil Alpam Karyam, Kariyilakkattupole, Koodum Thedi) and Mammootty (Adiyozhukkukal, Katha Ithuvare) in quite a few movies and had an important role to play in each.
Idavela Babu: He got that name from the first film he acted in â€“ Idavela â€“ as the youngest in a group of teens who has a very important role to play in the story. Afterwards however, Babu mostly did the friend role of new young heroes and this went on for years, even after he stopped being young or new (Sreedharante Onnam Thirumurivu, The News, Thalasthanam, Hitler).
Sudheesh: Sudheesh began very young, as a child, and perhaps got noticed first for playing the younger role of Ashokan in Adoor Gopalakrishnanâ€™s Anantaram. He played the lead in a few movies but later on did more of the brother / friend characters, noticeably in movies like Aadharam, Manichithrathazhu, Aniyathipravu, Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala, Valiyettan and so on, and even now keeps at it, the last being Kakshi: Amminipilla, playing Asif Aliâ€™s brother.
Jagadish: Jagadish has played too many character roles to be included in this list but his character as Mayankutty to Mukeshâ€™s Ramabhadran in Godfather would mark him as one of the best â€˜friendâ€™ roles in Malayalam cinema. He sticks through the thickest of times to help Ramanadan get his girl. It is identified more for its comedy but Jagadish had similar roles in the Inharihar Nagar series, playing the dumb friend of the lot. He has also played friend of Mohanlal (Aye Auto, Butterflies, Manthirkan,
Sreejaya: She played the friend and the sister in the movies of the '90s, perhaps most noticed for her role as one of the five cousins â€˜suspected to be in loveâ€™ with Jayaram in Summer in Bethlehem. She also played a notable character in Ponthanmada, but would mostly be remembered as the â€˜aniyathiâ€™ in movies like Superman, Lelam, Kanmadam, Veendum Chila Veetukaryangal and so on.
Lena: Lena made her debut playing Jayaramâ€™s sister in Sneham, as a teenager. Through the 2000s she performed small roles but afterward, began doing the friend of not-so-young heroines, and in a way that mattered. She was friend to Manju Warrier in Ennum Eppozhum, the policewoman friend of Kaniha in Spirit, and sister to Dulquer in Ustad Hotel. Sheâ€™d however do a number of other character roles, as the mother of the hero or heroine, the wife of a much older actor and so on.
Sudheer Karamana: He is another actor who has done versatile characters, sometimes turning the villain, other times, the funny friend. Sudheer has also been a popular choice of the friend / sibling role, doing such roles in movies like Ennu Ninte Moideen, Anuraga Karikkin Vellam and Amen.
Sreenath Bhasi: He has of course just done the memorable Bonny in Kumbalangi Nights, playing one of the four brothers around whom the film revolves, and then the remarkable young doctor in Virus. But Sreenath would also easily be seen as the younger brother (North 24 Kaatham, Jacobinte Swargarajyam) or else the friend (Da Thadiya, Honey Bee).
Aju Varghese: The all-time friend, quite a lot of the time with Nivin Pauly with whom he debuted in Malarvadi Arts Club, so much so that they became something like the Mohanlal-Sreenivasan combo of the Nadodikattu series. He played Nivinâ€™s friend in more movies like Thattathin Marayathu, Oru Vadakkan Selfie and sort of his friend-cum-enemy in Om Shanthi Oshana. Aju must have played a friend to most male actors in the industry in the last decade, be it Asif Ali (Kili Poyi), Biju Menon (Velli Moonga), Vineeth Sreenivasan (Ormayundo Ee Mukham), Jayasurya (for all of the Punyalan series) or others.