10 South Indian Feminist Movies We Should All Put On Our Must-Watch List

In the last ten years, Bollywood has become much more conscious of the importance of female protagonists.

Priya Prakash
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10 South Indian feminist movies
South Indian feminist movies: In the last ten years, our films have become more conscious of the importance of female protagonists than they previously were. As a result, a diverse spectrum of films addressing various elements of women's lives has emerged, played by strong female characters sometimes even written by women themselves. Indian cinema is not restricting itself to subjects of marriage and motherhood only, when it comes to portraying female protagonists. 

Beyond the cliched representations that bracket women as caregivers or domestic characters, their roles in fields outside the home are being positively explored. Women as leaders, in sports, at work and in genres across the board, including thrillers and crime dramas.

Feminist films today are breaking the mould of how on-screen women were more often than not relegated to supporting roles with little character development on their own. The female lead is more than a prop to the hero in the present era of cinema. She has gumption, she has layers and most importantly, she has expanded screen time.

Audiences usually turn to mainstream Bollywood or Hindi films to get their dose of gender empowering storylines. But the contribution of the industries in southern India - across Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada languages - cannot go understated.

10 South Indian feminist movies:

  1. 22 Female Kottayam:

Aashiq Abu directed 22 Female Kottayam, popularly known as 22FK, a 2012 Indian Malayalam-language revenge thriller film. Syam Pushkaran and Abhilash S. Kumar wrote the script. Fahadh Faasil and Rima Kallingal feature in the film. Bengaluru was the setting and location for the film. It was released on April 13, 2012, to mostly good reviews. It did well at the box office as well.

A 22-year-old nurse who has been betrayed and abused takes vengeance on her torturers. It has an IMDB rating of 7.4 out of 10 and is also available on MX Player.


Female Kottayam

2. 36 Vayadhinile

Rosshan Andrews directed the 2015 Indian Tamil comedy-drama film 36 Vayadhinil, Jyothika plays the lead role, marking her return to Tamil cinema after an eight-year absence, with Rahman, Abhirami, Nassar, Delhi Ganesh, and Siddhartha Basu rounding out the cast. Santhosh Narayanan wrote the film's soundtrack, while R. Diwakaran and Mahesh Narayanan handled cinematography and editing, respectively.

The film was released on 15 May 2015 to good reviews, with Jyothika receiving the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress at the 63rd South Filmfare Awards for her performance.

A 36-year-old woman reclaims her lost charisma despite overcoming significant obstacles posed by a patriarchal society. It has a IMDB rating 7 out of 10 and is available on Prime Video.


Suggested Reading: The Joy Of Taking Yourself On A Date To The Movies

3. Iraivi

Iraivi is a 2016 Tamil criminal drama film written and directed by Karthik Subbaraj, and produced by C. V. Kumar, K. E. Gnanavel Raja, and Abinesh Elangovan under their respective companies Thirukumaran Entertainment, Studio Green, and Abi & Abi Pictures. S. J. Surya, Vijay Sethupathi, Bobby Simha, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Anjali, and Pooja Devariya star in the film, which has an ensemble cast. The plot centres around three financially troubled men who attempt to solve their problems by engaging in criminal activities, oblivious to the influence their actions have on the ladies in their lives.

It has an IMDB rating of 8 out of 10 and is available on Prime video.


4. Saala Khadoos

Sudha Kongara wrote and directed the 2016 Indian sports drama film Irudhi Suttru (transl. Final round). The film was shot in both Tamil and Hindi, with the latter being titled Saala Khadoos (roughly translated as Rude). R. Madhavan plays a boxing coach who, after being snubbed by the boxing association, attempts to realise his ambition by training an amateur fighter, Madhi, who is played by Ritika Singh in her acting debut. The story of a former boxer who retires from the sport after a run-in with the authorities over underlying politics, but then coaches a fisherwoman to help him realise his ambition.

It has an IMDB rating of 7.6 out of 10 and is available on Prime Video.

5. Magalir Mattum

Director Bramma's second film, Magalir Mattum (English: Ladies Only), is a 2017 Indian Tamil comedy drama film. Jyothika, Urvashi, Bhanupriya, and Saranya Ponvannan play the key parts in the film.

Magalir Mattum has gotten a lot of great feedback. At the South Filmfare Awards, Jyothika was nominated for Best Actress, while Urvashi and Bhanupriya were nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Nassar, Livingston, Gokulnath, and G. Marimuthu play supporting roles, while Nassar, Livingston, Gokulnath, and G. Marimuthu play key roles. The story follows three female classmates who reconcile after 38 years, despite the demands placed on them by the males in their lives. With the rating of 6.3 on IMDB it is available on Zee 5.

6. Rani Padmini

Manju Warrier and Rima Kallingal star in Rani Padmini, a 2015 Indian Malayalam film directed by Aashiq Abu.

It's a feminism-infused dramatisation of two women from various backgrounds on their road to awakening. Narendra Prasad is honoured in the film. It has 6.1 rating on IMDB and available on Prime Video. Padmini (Manju Warrier), a traditional married woman, travels to Manali, Himachal Pradesh, to reconcile with her car rallying driver husband Giri (Jinu Joseph). Rani (Rima Kallingal) grew up in North India as a tomboy.

She's on the run from Raja, a wanted criminal who has put her life in jeopardy. Rani and Padmini meet on a bus, and a fascinating adventure begins with the simple pleasures of human communication. Rani and Padmini meet on a bus, and a fascinating adventure begins with the simple pleasures of human relationships. They work together to locate Giri while also attempting to avoid Raja's gang's capture.

7. Biriyaani

Sajin Baabu wrote and directed Biriyaani, a 2020 Indian Malayalam-language drama film. In the prominent parts are Kani Kusruti and Shailaja Jala. The film received a NETPAC award for best film at the 20th Asiatica Film Festival in Rome, a Jury Prize for Best Film at the Banglore International Film Festival, and a Best Film award at the Caleidoscope Indian Film Festival in Boston, among other accolades.

For her performance in this film, actress Kani Kusruti won best actress at the 42nd Moscow Film Festival's BRICS competition section, best actress at the Caleidoscope Indian Film Festival, second-best actress award at the Imagine Film Festival in Madrid, Spain, and the 2019 Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress at Kerala State Film Awards.

With IMDB rating of 7.4/10 it is available on multiple platforms like Netflix, Hotsar, Voot and Jio Cinema.

8. Maya

Maya is a fictional character (2015) and Ashwin Saravanan wrote and directed Maya, a horror thriller. Nayanthara, Aari, and Amzath Khan play the key roles in the film. The storey follows a woman who accepts the challenge of watching a horror film alone in an empty theatre.

Apsara, a single mother, works in the advertising industry to make ends meet. When a ghost begins to torment her and causes the deaths of people she knows, her life becomes entwined.

It has a IMDB rating of 7.6 out of 10 and is available on MX Player.

nayanthara, Pebbles wins Tiger Award Nayanthara 

9. Aramm

Gopi Nainar directed Aramm, is film released in 2017 in genre of drama. Nayanthara, Ramachandran Durairaj, and Sunu Lakshmi play the lead roles in the film. The film's plot centres around an Indian District Collector who decides to deal with all of the village's water shortage problems after realising that the people who live there are suffering greatly.

With a Rating of 7.8/10 on IMDB the movie is available on SonyLiv.

10. Uyare

Uyare is a critically acclaimed 2019 Malayalam film about an aviation student who survives an acid attack but loses her job as a result. Pallavi Raveendran is played by Parvathy Thiruvothu, who has expressive eyes and the ability to internalise the anguish of loss of self.

The film is about a father's relationship with his ambitious daughter and her goals, as well as a good relationship between two coworkers and a subtle toxicity in relationships. Pallavi's transformation from someone who had her ambitions destroyed to rising above it is the most essential aspect of the film.

It has a rating of 8.2/10 and is available on Netflix.

south indian films Feminist film