Year of the heroine in Mollywood

Women characters and the heroines in Malayalam cinema are on a roll

2017 will go down in the annals of Indian cinema as the year of the heroine. Both Bollywood and regional cinema saw a number of memorable women characters light up the screen with some superb acts. It was the same story in Malayalam cinema as well. They came from different walks of life, saw the scene and conquered. No longer were they content to be seen, but they also wanted to be heard, loud and clear. The ripples of change are creating mighty waves of celebration, confusion and angst in the patriarchal world of Malayalam cinema.


Year of the heroine in Mollywood

While a certain section of Malayalam cinema continues to revel in misogyny and misogynistic characters, many young filmmakers and writers are smashing the template to come up with fresh characters and stories that are apt reflections of reality.

Year of the heroine in Mollywood

So the big screen saw plenty of women who didn’t wilt away when the going got tough or drew circles in the sand with their feet when they were in love. Whether it be the bold Lichi (played by Anna Rajan) in Angamaly Diaries who had no qualms about going after her man or the down-to -earth Saira Banu (essayed by Manju Warrier) in C/O Saira Banu who took on privilege and the establishment with her common sense and intelligence, there was no holding back these women. Sujatha (again Manju in a memorable role) in Udaharanam Sujatha celebrated the determination of a mother and the importance of education; Sameera (played by Parvathy) in Take Off showed her grit and fortitude when all the chips were down.

Year of the heroine in Mollywood

Wamiqa Gabbi as Aditi Singh in Godha; Shanti Krishna as the cancer survivor Sheela Chacko in Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela; Anu Sithara as Malini in Ramante Edenthottam; Aishwarya Lekshmi as Aparna in Mayaanadhi… these women lived life on their own terms and were captains of their destiny.

Year of the heroine in Mollywood

Each of these characters in their own way celebrated the myriad strengths of women. A delightful collection of real-like memorable women characters are redrawing the women in Mollywood.

Critical acclaim

Year of the heroine in Mollywood

Parvathy and Surabhi brought honours to the Malayalam film industry with their remarkable acts in Take Off and Minnaminungu respectively. While Parvathy won the award for the best actress at the International Film Festival of India, a first for any Malayali actress, Surabhi brought home the national film award for the best actress after an interval of 14 years.

Women in Cinema Collective

Year of the heroine in Mollywood

While Malayalam cinema has been going through an interesting period of rejuvenation, the abduction and abuse of a prominent young actress shocked the film industry and divided it. It brought many of the leading women of Malayalam cinema on one platform and led to the formation of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC).

The arrest of actor Dileep created a schism within the industry. While support for him was loud and voluble from within Malayalam cinema, strangely and sadly, support for the brave young actress was not so strident. It was in that crucible of anger, angst and protest against the chauvinism in the industry that the WCC was born. However, the WCC was not muted by the loud, feudal and boorish remarks that filled the air.

Led by articulate women who were not afraid to speak up, the WCC is poised to be a major harbinger of much-needed change in the industry.

Calling the shots

The first signs of a change began last year with a small but bold and articulate group of women taking their place behind the camera to call the shots. Vidhu Vincent, Sreebala K. Menon, Geethu Mohandas, Nayana Sooriyan and so on erased barriers while Anjali Menon cemented her place as a successful filmmaker and scenarist. The number of women behind the camera in various designations is set to increase and the changes in perspectives are visible in terms of themes, characters and narratives. In 2018, more women directors will reach cinemas with their creations and there are many more waiting in the wings.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 8:04:20 PM |

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