7 Women In Mollywood Who Defined The Fashion Scene In The 80s-90s

Here at PinkLungi, we’ve done our fair share of trolling the Malayalam industry for their futuristic fashion sense. But let’s get real, fashion is not something that you’d really associate with Malayalam cinema right? Unlike other industries where a majority of films spend a lot of time and effort on adorning the characters in ultra-modern clothes and hairstyles, Malayalam cinema often chose to downplay arenas like makeup and costume, opting for more realistic and simple attires. However, there have been exceptions and over the years, certain Malayalam movies have introduced various fashion trends into our lives. But even then, we’re not talking about extravagant expensive Manish Malhotra/ Sabyasachi type clothes. Fashion trends in our movies are all about simple attainable everyday styles, and here are 7 women in Mollywood who introduced us to these styles.

Amala – Ente Sooryaputhrikku, Ulladakkam

While other female leads of the time owned the whole frizzy hair look or the demure plaits, Amala was the cool new girl whipping around her gorgeous silky straight hair at a time where such hair could only be possessed naturally. In the movie Ente Sooryaputhrikku, she got the chance to display her fashion sense with some wonderfully experimental clothes. The audience was introduced to fitted clothes, snug jeans, crisp shirts, lovely floral dresses and shiny vintage pumps. I love how she manages to ramp up a simple red dress with a classy overcoat in the song Raakolam Vannadhane, and with such swag.

women in Mollywood

Lissy – Chithram, Thalavattam, Mazha Peyyunnu Maddalam Kottunnu

Lissy had a very distinct appearance that made her stand out from the rest of her contemporaries at the time. She’s managed to pull off both the nadan and modern looks with ease. Her signature fringe and subtle makeup made her pretty much the poster girl of the perfect upper middle-class girl in the Malayali society of the 80s. I especially loved her clothes in Priyadarshan’s movies. Unlike MA Dhavan’s opinion about her dressing sense in Mazhapeyyunn Madalam Kottunu, I thought she rocked some fab outfits in that movie.

Fun fact: The outfit that she wears when she first meets MA Dhavan is almost identical to the outfit she wears on stage in the song Ponveene in Thalavattam.

Nadhiya – Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu, Vannu Kandu Keezhadakki

An actress who has managed to stay stylish over the years both in reel and real life, Nadhiya played a huge part in ramping up the fashion quotient in Mollywood. She often portrayed the role of the stylish urban character with an impeccable fashion sense. Her portrayal of Girlie in Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu made her a rage among college-goers. Featuring a variety of well fitted, bright coloured salwars and snazzy western outfits, her clothes were mostly a combination of chic and comfort. The “Nadhiya style high bun” had also become an often copied style statement.



Shobana – Manichithrathazhu, Minnaram, Hitler, Pappayude Swantham Appoos

Shobana and cotton sarees are a match made in heaven. Right from Nadodikkattu to her most recent Varane Avashyamund, she has a knack for making simple crisp cotton sarees look exceptional. And don’t even get me started about her sarees and matching long sleeve blouses in Manichitrathazhu, especially in the song Varunavanillarum. She looked simply ethereal! But Shobana is someone who could pull off both the modern and naadan look with ease. As a kid, I remember almost salivating over her pink Barbie-esq dress in the song Ollathumbhath in Papayude Swantham Apoos. Even in movies like Minnaram and Hitler, she always managed to look stylish without being over the top.

women in Mollywood

Revathi – Kilukkam, Maya Mayooram, Kattathe Kilikkoodu

Though her fashion had a larger canvas in the Tamil industry, Revathi managed to make a splash in the fashion scene via the few movies that she’d attempted in Malayalam. Her hairstyle with the front fringe was quite a hit in the early 90s and attempted by so many of my cousins.

I don’t think anyone else could have pulled off that iconic outfit that Nandini Thamburathi sported as she got off the train looking like an absolute diva in Kilukkam. And in Maya Mayooram, her naturally brown hair was often bound by lovely satin scarves, another one of her fashion statements that inspired a lot of young girls at the time.

women in Mollywood

Shalini – Aniyathipraavu, Niram, Nakshatratharattu

Right from her debut movie as a leading lady, Shalini had turned into a teenage fashion icon. In Aniyathipraavu, her clothes were simple, easily wearable and all the kind that most moms approved of as well. In Niram, a film that defined “cool” at the time, her colourful outfits were all the rage among youngsters. The shirt tied around the waist, the “shukriya” hairstyle, and my personal favourite – the parallel pant salwar kameez – this movie was jam-packed with fashion trends that won hearts.

women in Mollywood

Girija – Vandanam

Okay, so I know she’s only acted in one Malayalam movie, but her clothes in Vandanam are so memorable that I just had to add her to this list.  Girija’s Gadha managed to embody the fashion sense of a true blue creative professional living in the fashion capital Bangalore at the time. Her clothes ranged from modern and artsy. And she paired it with some of the quirkiest accessories.



Can you think of other women in Mollywood who should be on this list? I’m looking forward to all your “How can you forget…” and “This list is not complete without…” comments! 😀


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