Sunday, November 22, 2015


film Manichitrathazhu

Our cinema without the bulk of feminine presence that has kept us grounded over the years since its very conception would have ended up being merely a testosterone-ridden butch-fest with brutish energy aimlessly whip-lashing in ever possible directions, not to mention the threat of repetitive themes and restricted premises. While critics are going nonstop about the lack of good female characters in films world over, there was luckily no dearth of their powerful presence in Malayalam cinema (overlooking the 2000s maybe) from the time of the melodramatic excesses of the black and white era. They never stopped coming at us as sensual divas, crazy lovers, caring mothers, nagging wives, frightening psychos, despotic leaders and charming prostitutes. Here is a list of some of the most memorable female characters in Malayalam cinema immortalized by our rich tradition of talented actors, although not all of them are brought to fruition solely by the goodwill of the respective actors, as most of them wouldn’t have taken off the ground without the bountiful blessings of a handful of gifted dubbing artists working in the industry.

15. KALI PILLAI from Ozhimuri (Shweta Menon)

Kali Pillai is the tyrannical head of a family in the glory days of matriarchy in Kerala. She’s uncompromising, principled and cruel. Shweta Menon gives a performance so stellar that it finally makes up for all the bad makeup.

14. MALU AMMA from Arapetta Kettiya Gramathil (Sukumari)

The persuasive mistress of a whorehouse, Malu Amma is street-smart and has the cunning and courage to survive crises like no other woman. Sukumari shines as the madam in her State Award winning role with abundant sleaze.

13. MAGGIE MADAMMA from Daivathinte Vikrithikal (Srividya)

Maggie Madamma is a true survivor. As from an Anglo Indian family that is an oddball remnant of the French rule after colonialism shipped out, Srividya convincingly haggles and curses in her most memorable role.

12. RAJAMMA aka RAJI from Avalude Ravukal (Seema)

Played by Seema in her debut role as the leading lady with great tenderness, Raji is an atypical young prostitute fascinated by the writings of Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer, and whose fate gets entwined with that of three men.

11. BHADRA from Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu (Manju Warrier)

Bhadra is sensuous and dangerous at the same time. She is in a frenzy to avenge the death of her parents, and she skillfully manipulates her way in. Manju Warrier is absolutely feral as this revenge seeking honey trap.

10. ANAPPARAYILE ACHAMMA from Godfather (Philomena)

Immortalized by Philomena in her career-defining role, Anapparayile Achamma is a firebrand matriarch of a joint family who is loud, vindictive and conniving for most part. She is also the oldest on the list.

9. NANDINI from Kilukkam (Revathy)

At the same time as being an orphan in search of her roots, Nanidini, same as Revathy herself, is a great performer, and for almost half of the film she dupes the hell out of us as a hilariously cracked volatile tourist.

8. UNNIYARCHA from Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (Madhavi)

The most aristocratic of vixens, Madhavi’s Unniyarcha, trapped in a futile marriage, is a manipulative go-getter who is as mysterious and enigmatic as is charmingly vicious with a face that hides it all.

7. MAYA VINODINI from Ente Sooryaputhrikku (Amala)

The most amusing character on the list, this persistent, fun-loving young lady is hip and happening. Brilliantly portrayed by Amala, Maya Vinodini is also one of the most fearless and unpredictable of them all.

6. SUBHADRA from Vanaprastham (Suhasini)

Suhasini’s portrayal of this complex, intellectually twisted character, without seeming ridiculous at any point, deserves praise. Subhadra is one of a kind, and is an idealistic loner with a fanatic weakness for art.

5. AMMINI from Aranyakam (Saleema)

You could call Ammini an eccentric teenager who asks inappropriate questions, or an aimless wanderer who keeps a crazy diary. She wouldn’t care. Saleema’s Ammini is one of the most original characters in Malayalam cinema ever.

4. NARAYANI from Mathilukal (K.P.A.C. Lalitha)

Narayani is flirtatious. She is also buoyantly sensual. But most of all she is a soothing respite in the stifling life of a bored prisoner. K.P.A.C. Lalitha further plumps up this meaty role with charm and mischief with great ease.

3. GANGA/ NAGAVALLI from Manichitrathazhu (Shobhana)

Ganga’s alter ego Nagavalli, a huge contrast to her balanced self, is the rabid manifestation of a ferocious revenge seeker with a foreign tongue. Shobhana is frightfully hypnotizing in this role that fetched her the National Award.

2. CLARA from Thoovanathumbikal (Sumalatha)

One of most nuanced female character ever to have graced the Malayalam cinema Sumalatha’s Clara, is an unflinching expression of lust, tenderness and true love with an almost habitual penchant for uniqueness.

1. KANJANA from Thalayanamanthram (Urvashi)

Kanjana is a celebration of female energy and womanly spirits, and unquestionably is one of us. Urvashi is hilariously greedy and incredibly manipulative in this role of a lifetime that got her the State Award.

A few others also worth mentioning are…

Kunjipennu from Venkalam (K.P.A.C. Lalitha)
Vijaya from Thulabharam (Sharada)
Indira from Panchagni (Geeta)
Kannaki from Kannaki (Nandita Das)
Gowri from Nakhakshathangal (Monisha)
Bhanumati from Devasuram (Revathy)
Karthumbi from Thenmavin Kombath (Shobhana)
Bhanu from Kanmadam (Manju Warrier)
Shyamala from Chintavishthayaya Shyamala (Sangita)
Sumangala from Kamaladalam (Parvathy)
Deepti from Ore Kadal (Meera Jasmine)
Chithira from Kunjanandante Kada (Nyla Usha)
Sally from Deshadanakili Karayarilla (Shari)
Chellamma from Kallichellamma (Sheela)
Cheeru from Paleri Manikyam (Shweta Menon)
Sulochana from Mithunam (Urvashi)

Click here for 22 WOMEN-CENTRIC FILMS IN MALAYALAM worth your time

1 comment:

  1. shanthi krishna in chakoram, manju warrier in c/o sairabanu, manju warrier in how old are you,shobhana in innale,karthika and shari in deshadanakili karayarilla,pravathy in ennu ninte moideen,madhavi in novemberinte nashtam, shobhana in pakshe,


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...