The idea was to offer Malayalam films a separate identity and actors like Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan are the two unforgettable names in this regard. Family, familial issues and relationship gained immense importance in Malayalam films since their time. That was just the beginning of a history; the initiation of an era; and since then there was no looking back. Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair was the first actor in Malayalam film history to known as a superstar. Later on Prem Nazir, Sathyan, Madhu, Jayan, M. G. Soman, and Sukumaran also contributed to Malayalam cinema considerably. Prem Nazir and Sathyan formed a bipolar industry in which a several films were made in later 1960s and 1970s till the rise of Jayan.
The golden age of Malayalam films began from 1986. It was at this time that three precious actors rose to the forefront: Mohanlal, Mammotty and Suresh Gopi. Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair is one of the most popular actors of Malayalam films. He is one of those rare actors who had received in National Award twice and being acknowledged as the best actor award in six times in Kerala. He is mostly popular for his films in latter part of 1980s and 1990s.
Another actor who took the Malayalam film industry by storm is Mammotty. With a career spinning over a quarter of a decade Mammotty has in around 300 films. According to critics he is one of the finest actors in the Malayalam film industry who is comfortable with both commercial and parallel films.
It was the copious contribution of the Malayalam actors like Mohanlal, Mammotty and Suresh Gopi, which made Malayalam cinema industry lot more artistic yet realistic. The seed of contemporaneousness in the Malayalam film industry was first sown during their time. A curious co existence of commercial and art films in Malayalam cinema industry was perceived which invariably introduced a new concept of "Star Value" in the industry.
The other most sought after star in Kerala today is Dileep. He has acted in films like Sudhinam, Manathe Kottaram, Vrudhanmare Sookshikkuka, Three Men Army, Sindoora Rekha, Kokkarakko, Saamoohyapadom, Malayala Masom Chingam Onnu.
Some of the popular stars today in Malayalam film industry are Kunchacko Boban, Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Anoop Menon, Asif Ali and others.