Muraleedharan Pillai, popularly known as 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 and also many other movies. 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. 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 to character acting. He played the leading role in the 1992 film Aadhaaram, which gave a "break" to his career. The film was well received at the box office and Murali ascended to the status of a star in Malayalam cinema, which he enjoyed for a few 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 Limited, which runs Malayalam TV channels Kairali TV, People TV and We TV. His last film was the 2009 Tamil film Aadhavan. He is one of the founders of the Malayalam film actors association AMMA.