Female actors have for years played the role of decorative objects in Indian cinema, a fact no one can deny. But having said that, Indian cinema's portrayal of women has undergone tremendous change. Films, as a medium that has the strongest influence on the Indian psyche, plays a major role in creating awareness. And portraying women as glam dolls and mere objects of sexual desire is not something a modern society looking towards progress needs.
Over the last decade, the Indian film industries have undergone a transformation with more and more women being shown as independent, career oriented, and confident characters, not needing a savior. So, here we list down 10 South Indian films of each year that broke the mold:
2007 – Naalu Penungal
Directed, written and produced by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, this film focuses on the lives of four women in Kerala. Each of the women has different social status – a virgin, a housewife, a prostitute and a spinster. These four characters are essayed by Nandita Das, Manju Pillai, Geetu Mohandas and Padmapriya. With well-etched characters and a tight script, this film is a must watch. And if you are an Adoor Gopalakrishnan fan, you should definitely watch this film.
2008 – Moggina Manasu
This 2008 Kannada film revolves around four teenage girls and the problems they face in the form of relationships and college life. Directed by Shashank, Moggina Manasu also touches upon the topic of teenage pregnancy. The four female characters are essayed by Radhika Pandit, Shubha Poonja, Sangeetha Shetty and Manasi.
2009 – Arundhati
Directed by Kodi Ramakrishna, this Telugu horror-thriller has Anushka Shetty playing the lead role and what a role it was! This film turned her into one of the most sought after actresses in Tollywood. Playing the roles of Arundhati and Jejamma, Anushka does a fantastic job. Arundhati is a pure performance oriented film for the actress and it should not be missed.
2010 –Thenmerku Paruvakatru
The central character of this film is the widowed mother Veerayi played by Saranya. She gives a fantastic performance as a mother who sacrifices much for her son Murugan (Vijay Sethupathi), but when he falls in love with a girl from a gang of thieves who Veerayi has a bad past with, will she go against her son's wishes? Watch this film to know the full story and to watch one of Saranya's career-best performances.
2011- Bhavani IPS
Actress Sneha plays Bhavani, an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Tirunelveli, portrayed as a tough character punching and kicking goons. Directed by Kicha, Bhavani IPS should not be missed for it attempted at breaking molds in South Indian cinema.
2012 – 22 Female Kottayam
As nurse Tessa, Rima Kallingal delivered one of the best performances till date. The character became an inspiration for women everywhere. Directed by Aashiq Abu, this film is as raw and bold as it can get. It deals with the issue of rape and also touches upon live-in relationships, which was an uncommon theme for South Indian cinema at the time. If Tessa.K. Abraham doesn't inspire you after watching this film, are you even human?
2013 – Zachariyayude Garbhinikal
The film centers around the life of pregnant women under the care of Dr. Lal, a gynecologist. The film tells the tale of a woman impregnated by her husband's friend, a pregnant teenager, and a pregnant ex-nun who gets artificially inseminated. This Aneesh Anwar film is super engaging and should not be missed as it has some of the best performances by a female cast, comprising Rima Kallingal, Asha Sarath, Sanusha and Sandra Thomas.
2014 – How Old Are You
Manju Warrier marked her return with this film, which turned out to be a blockbuster. This Roshan Andrews flick told the story of Nirupama, a mother and wife, who like many Indian women, set their dreams and aspirations aside for their family. An out-and-out Manju Warrier show, How Old Are You is a film many women in India can associate with.
2015 – Maya
A Tamil horror film, Maya has Nayanthara playing the role of actress Apsara struggling to make ends meet. Apsara takes up the challenge to watch a horror film alone in a theater at night. Spooky, right? But who is Maya and will Apsara survive? All these questions are answered towards the end of the film that has a number of surprising twists. A complete Nayanthara show, the film helped the actress showcase her talent. Her upcoming movies include Dora, Aramm and others.
2016 – Take Off
Based on the real-life incident of the rescue of Indian nurses stuck in Iraq due to the ISIS attack in 2014, Take Off is hands down Parvathy's best performance till date. Even though the film had two of the biggest Malayalam superstars – Kunchacko Boban and Fahadh Faasil, Parvathy steals the show. As Sameera, her character inspires us all to never give up. The ease with which the actress plays this de-glam role is commendable.
So these are a few brilliant female-oriented movies/characters that have changed the face of Indian cinema and we hope to see more of them now. Also, don't forget to read the 10 South Indian Movies to Watch Out for in 2018!