The Changing Roles and Representation of Women in Contemporary Cinema
Until a few years back no one would expect movies with a female lead to make it huge in the cinemas. Regional cinema mostly is considered to be male-driven. No matter what the story is, it was important to have a stunning hero with a good market value to make the film a success. All the punchlines, mass background scores were reserved for these men. If you have seen Kolamavu Kokila, you would be convinced that these background scores suite well for the leading actress as well. Nayantara as Kokila had some really amazing goosebump scenes and scores.
There has been a redefinition of female-led films these years. The change is more evident in the Malayalam movie industry. We saw some talented actresses taking it to their shoulders the success of the film. June(2019, Malayalam) and Helen(2019, Malayalam) are examples of that.
What I like about these films is that they are female-led films but unlike usual women-oriented films, they are not themed around women advocating basic rights or fighting against discrimination. Rajisha Vijayan’s savage come-back in June is her way to shut haters. As June, she just shows us that she is back in the game.
Even Anna Ben as Helen is irreplaceable. We were eagerly waiting for her next film since she impressed us in Kumbalangi Night.
The existence of women with an opinion is at times a difficult thing for some people to digest. Every time a female actor expressed her honest opinion, she is asked to just shut up, do her work and leave. Once when an angry mob was so close to ripping off the screen showing Parvathy Thiruvoth’s movie(just because she had an opinion), the outstanding actress made them all clap and cheer for her Pallavi in Uyare(2019, Malayalam).Uyare is a sharp take on toxic relationships. The film reminds us that we need to step out as early as possible from a relationship that is toxic.
The exciting thing about Uyare is that it is a film penned by two male writers Bobby and Sanjay. Their scripts and stories have always encouraged women to break the chain of stereotypes.
All these years we have seen women on the screen through a men’s perspective; drawbacks of having a man led crew behind the camera!! Thanks to the bunch of talented female directors and writers like Anjali Menon, Zoya Akhtar, and Nandita Das, who have made their own space and identity in the industry. They have written and portrayed women( as well as men )as agents of change, the change that shatters the glass ceiling of prevailing societal norms.
Women on screen were shown through the patriarchal lenses all these years. Today’s cinema shows women who are liberated and in charge of their own lives, who are ready to break the patriarchal consciousness and are as capable as the hero of the film!!
A huge shoutout to all those inspiring women who have contributed to the visible change, big or small, in the representation of women in Indian cinema.
Happy Women’s Day!!!