Five Times Malayalam Movies Broke Societal Beauty Standards

Malayalam Cinema has always been known for its realistic portrayal of characters, as opposed to other industries that actively propagate unrealistic beauty standards through their female actors. Here’s a list of Malayalam movies that break these societal beauty standards and embrace the natural beauty of women actors!

Maheshinte Prathikaram

Five Times Malayalam Movies Broke Societal Beauty Standards

Aparna Balamurali in Maheshinte Prathikaram enchanted everyone with her natural look! She is seen donning very normal clothing that fits the town she hails from, unlike so many mainstream cinemas that exaggerate the heroine’s appearance in order for her to stand out from the other women who appear on the screen. Ironically, in the movie, Mahesh (Fahadh Faasil), who is a photographer, also learns the art of natural lighting and candid angles from which one’s best version can be shot. The beautiful photo of Jimsy (Aparna) that Mahesh clicks, later featured in Manjadi the magazine, is a metaphor for how natural beauty and natural frames stand out in Malayalam Cinema. 

Also Read: Tea Shops in Malayalam Cinema

Great Indian Kitchen, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, Malik

Nimisha Sajayan started a sensation regarding societal beauty standards after appearing on the TV Show called ‘Annie’s Kitchen’, where she openly voices her dislike for make-up. A shocked Annie repeatedly asks her and even attempts to convince her of the importance of make-up for women in cinema. Yet, Nimisha very casually brushes it off. ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’, ‘Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum’, ‘Malik’ are all movies in which Nimisha stays true to her word, dresses and looks according to her characterization, and does full justice to the art form that acting is. As Nimisha mentioned in the episode of Annie’s Kitchen, the conversation is so much more beyond make-up or no make-up at this point. It is also the art of filmmaking and the art of aesthetics with regard to the characters in the movie. For example, in Malik, Roselyn (Nimisha) is dressed up on her wedding day the way the character would. For Roselyn and her community, she has done a bridal makeover. With her dusky tone and her natural face, she looks as beautiful as ever!

Kumbalangi Nights

Five Times Malayalam Movies Broke Societal Beauty Standards

Kumbalangi Nights is dear to my heart due to its treatment of women characters and how they’ve been portrayed gracefully and naturally. Anna Ben, especially, is known for sporting her naturally curly locks in all the movies she’s acted in! Kumbalangi Nights, however, is also probably one of the first Malayalam movies in which an African-American (female) character is portrayed in a non-derogatory, non-racist, and respectful way.


Premam introduced three new female faces, all of which were portrayed in their own natural beauty. We all know the Malar obsession that took the internet by storm! With her natural hair, unconventional voice, pimpled face, and no makeup, Sai Pallavi immediately became famous among Malayalis, inspiring many women who felt like they could make it big without being superficially glamorous. Malar Miss has become a crazy trend, and even after her other work in Malayalam Cinema, she is still known as the beloved Malar Miss for many.


Five Times Malayalam Movies Broke Societal Beauty Standards

The cult favourite ‘Mayanadhi’ has the audience, particularly the younger audience, going gaga over Mayandhi’s raw portrayal of young love. Aishwarya Lekshmi stole everybody’s hearts with her elegant performance as ‘Appu’, and her appearance definitely has a role to play in it. The best part about Mayanadhi is that Appu is also a struggling actor, and the difficulties of landing important roles are also shown in the movie when there are competitive and more successful actors all around her. Appu has minimal to no makeup on in every frame, even for the audition that she attends. Mayanadhi’s treatment of its women characters’ portrayal and appearance definitely adds to the aesthetic of the movie and focuses on the depth of characters and their intricacies.

Malayalam Cinema is changing Indian Cinema in many ways, including its active role in redefining societal beauty standards, experimental cinema, rich storylines, and brilliant movie-making! Do add your favorites that I might have missed out on this list!

Must Read: You Don’t Have To Be Fair To Be Beautiful

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