In the entertainment industry, movies spearheaded by female characters are hard to come by. But, times are changing. Women’s stories told through a beautiful cinematic experience is, in many ways, empowering. Malayalam movies that portray women’s stories and have strong female characters are unique in themselves, and that’s why we have listed a few below.
The title itself being the name of a legendary queen, Rani Padmini is the story of two women from very different backgrounds who meet during a journey. They form a special bond and help each other with their problems. The movie is quite fun and engaging with the feministic message that women should be free to do what they want. Compared to most movies with their feminist protagonists being the cliché tomboy, Rani Padmini takes a different approach by presenting two women who are polar opposites. Rani is the bold tomboy while Padmini is the innocent and homely married woman. Yet both of these strong female characters share the same spirit of feminism when it comes to exerting their rights of freedom, showing that there is no one type of feminist.
You can watch Rani Padmini on Hotstar.
22 Female Kottayam
This iconic movie shows women are not to be messed with. From “Ni verum pennu aa” to “Ni aanu pennu” goes the journey of Tessa in 22 Female Kottayam. The movie shows Tessa’s vengeance on her lover who betrayed her and his employer who had assaulted her. When it was released, the movie had gained great popularity for the shocking character development of its female protagonist as she changes from an innocent victim to a bold vindictive woman. The movie shows how women can change when circumstances demand them to, opposed to the helpless victims they are considered to be.
You can watch 22 Female Kottayam on MXPlayer.
This movie can be counted as one of Parvathy’s masterpieces. Inspired by the true story of an acid attack victim, Uyare shows how the protagonist Pallavi gets back on her feet after falling prey to an acid attack by her obsessive boyfriend. The movie throws light on how women are expected to stay under the shade of their husbands or boyfriends, restricting their own dreams to the limits drawn by the men. The character Pallavi would not only light up the spirits in acid attack victims but also give a message to all women that the sky is the limit when it comes to pursuing their dreams.
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You can watch Uyare on Netflix.
The Great Indian Kitchen
With its perfect portrayal of the typical life of an Indian wife, The Great Indian Kitchen exposes the level of patriarchy and sexism a woman has to face in society every day. The protagonist, played by Nimisha Sajayan, struggles as she tries her best to conform to the societal norms that she clearly doesn’t agree with. Her family expects her to be a submissive wife and reduce her life to a maid who only cooks and cleans. Moreover, the ridiculous patriarchal beliefs of the family are far beyond what the protagonist can tolerate. Through this movie, we see how a ‘respectable family’ can have its own dark sides that nobody cares to think about. The women suffer silently and their lives go wasted like that of the husband’s mother in the movie. The protagonist, however, is a woman who wishes to fight back and seeing her get back at those who oppressed her is pure satisfaction.
How Old Are You?
This movie shows the life of married women who end up giving away everything just for the sake of their family’s wellbeing, only for it to be of no value. Her sacrifices are not valued by society as women are expected to give away their whole existence, and serve as a mother and wife once she is married. As the protagonist, Nirupama steps out of this patriarchal mould and rediscovers her lost spirit and confidence, How Old Are You? is a wake-up call for every woman whose identity gets buried under the ‘duties of a housewife’.
You can watch How Old Are You? on MXPlayer.
Thira is a gripping mystery-thriller starring Shobana, who plays the role of a bold, dogged woman Dr Rohini, who sets out to rescue a group of girls who are kidnapped by a human trafficking ring. With the help of Naveen, whose sister has also been kidnapped, Rohini fights till she gets back her girls. Naveen is shown to be a contrasting character compared to Rohini, as he is a fragile youth who is unsure of his ability to save his sister. However, Rohini’s courage and determination grow into him, and he helps her in her mission. Not only does the movie show the plight of girls who fall victim to human trafficking, but it also highlights the character Rohini, making it a fight of a woman for fellow women. Rohini brims with strength and valour and watching her lights up a fire inside you.
You can watch Thira on Amazon Prime.
Helen is basically a survival-thriller, which tells the story of how the protagonist Helen fights to survive as she accidentally gets locked up in a freezer. What gives it a feministic touch is how the story portrays Helen and also her experience. Helen is shown as a hardworking and independent woman who juggles between her job and IELTS classes with the aim of going abroad. She is shown as a self-reliant woman throughout the movie, and at the end, she manages to save herself, unlike the expected ending of being saved by a hero male character. Also, the movie delineates the Malayali society with their false morality and judgemental attitude towards women who try to live beyond the patriarchal restrictions imposed on them.
You can watch Helen on Amazon Prime.
5 Sundarikal is an anthology that shows the lives of five women, each leading their own life. Though the dominant theme of the movie is love, the story of each woman also presents to us the different sides of society and the problems women have to face. The diverse stories also show the equally diverse characters that can represent a woman. From the innocent and vulnerable Sethulakshmi to the smart and sensual Isha, 5 Sundarikal shows the different shades of a woman. With five stories of five totally different protagonists, the movie presents multiple facets of the lives of women. With most movies focussing on the male hero, 5 Sundarikal gives full attention to the women’s side of life and that is a true delight.