Women of substance in Malayalam cinema

A still from Mayaanadhi   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Malayalam cinema has been seeing some reel changes during 2017-2018. While sob sagas of weepy or waspish women continue to rule the mini-screen, tinsel town began introducing many women of steel and grit. Misogyny and patriarchy are still selling points for several has-been directors and scriptwriters but quite a few young Turks are giving life to reel women who actually resemble real women. Here is our take on some of those women who lit up our big screens from January 2017 to March 2018.


Aashiq Abu

Aparna longs to soar high. The young beauty with brains knows her mind and even while her vulnerability shines through, it never becomes an excuse for her to play the damsel in distress. Kudos to Aishwarya Lakshmi for her superb act! Aparna’s matter- of-fact approach to her sexuality comes as a refreshing change after so many of Mollywood’s strait-laced heroines.

Udaharanam Sujatha

Phantom Praveen

Manju Warrier in Udaharanam Sujatha

Manju Warrier in Udaharanam Sujatha   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Manju Warrier, despite the terrible make-up, aces this role of a doughty mother who dreams big for her daughter. She represents every mother who refuses to let circumstances circumscribe her dreams. The remake of the Hindi film Nil Battey Sannata, the film has its moments. Tough love indeed!

Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela

Althaf Salim

A separate chapter should be devoted to study how the Big C has been tackled in Indian cinema. The template was completely redone with this flick.

Shanthi Krishna

Shanthi Krishna   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Shanthi Krishna, making her comeback to cinema after 19 years, as Sheela Chacko, plays the mother who fights back even when her family is reeling under the shock of learning that she has been diagnosed with cancer. Without a thousand violins playing in the background, Sheela takes on the Big C and rallies her family around her. Mother of all battles indeed!


Anil Thomas

A role that helped Surabhi Lakshmi bring home the National award for the best actress. The superb actress she is, Surabhi eases into her character of a middle aged mother trying to make ends meet and keep the wolves away from her door. Surabhi is a bright spark waiting for the big roles to set the screen on fire with her talent.

Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Dileesh Pothan

Nimisha Sajayan

Nimisha Sajayan   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Nimisha Sajayan, as Sreeja, proves that if an actor has a good director and a strong script, she does not need to break into a song and dance routine or even layers of make-up to carve an identity of her own in tinsel town. Sreeja takes on the odds with her pragmatism in the black comedy. It was easily one of the best characters on cinemas last year.


Basil Joseph

The film about a woman wrestler punched holes in the image of the popular heroine. Aditi Singh, essayed with elan by Wamiqa Gabbi, spared no punches to play the character and won the round at the box office too.

Ramante Edenthottam

Ranjith Sankar

Anu Sithara in Ramante Edenthottam

Anu Sithara in Ramante Edenthottam   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Anu Sithara’s Malini’s decisions triggered debates on social media amongst people of all ages. As she chooses to walk away from an emotionally abusive marriage, she questions the wisdom of ‘adjustment’ to stay in an unhappy marriage.

Take Off

Mahesh Narayanan

The story is about a woman’s flight to safety. It revolves around Sameera’s efforts to escape from the clutches of IS terrorists in Tikrit, Iraq. Based on a real-life incident, the film won Parvathy the Best Female Actor award at the 48th International Film Festival of India.

C/O Saira Banu

Antony Sony

Saira Banu may not be very well educated or poised. But Manju Warrier sparkles again in a mother’s role that seems to have been crafted for her. The rustic, naïve Saira comes into her own when she is forced to take on powerful, influential people for her son’s sake.

Angamaly Diaries

Lijo Jose Pellissery

The testosterone-filled film had some interesting women as well. Anna Rajan’s Lichi was one of those and she knew how to pursue her love and win him too.

Kaadu Pookkunna Neram

Dr. Biju

Rima Kallingal as the nameless radical turns the tables on the policeman who apprehends her. She symbolises the strength and sorrows of the men and women who are forced to take up the gun to get the establishment’s attention.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 5:27:29 PM |

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