Manju warrier
Culture, Gender and Movies

The stylish and inspiring comeback of Manju Warrier!

When Roshan Andrews announced his next directorial in 2014, people of Kerala were excited and amused, not because of the storyline but because the movie was about to mark the comeback of their favorite actress who had said goodbye to the cinema 15 years ago. 

The much anticipated come back

Manju Warrier was at the peak of her career when she got married at the young age of 20. As was customary at that time, she left all her movie dreams to start a family. For the next 15 years, people hardly saw her, the recipient of several coveted awards was hardly seen. She rarely gave interviews or posed for photographs. She had even quit dancing, an art form that had given her all the fame and happiness in the world.

manju warrier in summer in betlehem
Manju in Summer in Bethlehem (1997)

Rumors about her failing marriage started filling the news columns. And slowly confirmations of the same started revealing. Maybe Manju was preparing herself during those times, to jump back strong as ever instead of remaining a damsel in distress.

Comebacks aren’t a rare, unseen event in Malayalam cinema. But when it comes to female actors, these comebacks usually happen by playing the mother/elder sister of the young male lead. As age is a primary concern for women in cinema it was considered next to impossible for a female actor to come back as a relevant lead in a film until Manju Warrier proved otherwise. 

Read: Nimisha Sajayan- Redefining Conventional Beauty Standards

Malayalees hadn’t forgotten their favorite actress of all time and hit the theatres when How Old Are You released in 2014. The film was a success. It was a revolution that happened there. The movie was about a 36-year-old middle-class wife who unknowingly had gotten boring and unambitious in her life, contrary to what she used to be before her marriage. She had simply become forgettable. With the occurrence of certain events, she comes to realize what she has given up and transforms into what she had always aspired to be. The movie somewhere reflected on Manju’s real life as well, to say.

how old are you malayalam movie
Manju in her comeback movie How Old Are You

Slaying as Lady Superstar of Malayalam Cinema

manju warrier

There has been no looking back for Manju Warrier since then. She had established her territory. The next couple of movies that she chose were so well-thought and unique in their presentation. Manju came back but how- by adapting the new wave of Malayalam cinema that was gaining popularity among the youth! She set her bar really high and offered some amazing movies over the next couple of years. Manju Warrier, hence, went on to earn the title of ‘Lady Superstar of Malayalam Cinema’. From disappearing from movies to becoming the Lady Superstar, Manju has established her reign! Her comeback also slammed the age-based stereotypes that exist against female actors in the industry. Manju Warrier has starred with several young actors from this generation and definitely not as their mother! No matter what movie she has been in, her role has been of high significance.

Her rise to stardom has given significance to female representation in movies as well. In an industry that is primarily male-dominated, this significance has huge relevance. The coming generation will look up to her in not just admiration but also in inspiration.

If rising like a Phoenix was to be given a real-life example, Manju Warrier’s journey would surely fit the bill. 

Image Courtesy: Youtube/Instagram

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