Women-Centric Malayalam Films“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” South-Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho mentioned in his Golden Globes acceptance speech for Parasite in 2020. The statement which holds utmost truth is as accurate for regional films as it is for global cinema.
Besides the Hindi film industry, which caters to the largest number of cine-goers in the nation, regional cinema has some undiscovered gems. However, post-pandemic OTT platforms became a major source of entertainment and gave some of these captivating stories their due appreciation.
Among other regional film industries, Malayalam films earned a notable place on the map of newfound Indian cinema.
Here are some of the Malayalam films with strong female narratives:
The Great Indian Kitchen
The Jeo Baby directorial, which had a rather small-scale release, managed to create massive buzz for the unique narration. A simple set-up, minimum characters and dialogues in the film conveyed the message way more powerfully than one could imagine. Calling out sexism inside homes and the story speaks to almost every woman of the Indian household.
The protagonist stuck inside a kitchen among the repetitive chores makes the audience feel the suffocating routine. The Great Indian Kitchen, which was rejected by Netflix and Amazon, emerged as one of the must-watch films of this year.
The empowering sports drama directed by Rahul Riji Nair is an underdog story narrated powerfully. Maria Francis is recruited as a local government girls’ school physical education teacher and endowed with the responsibility of assembling a Kho-Kho team.
Much like other sports drama, this film doesn’t ride on lengthy monologues but on the realistic troubles of the pivotal characters. Among the unambitious bunch of students, who would rather financially assist their families, Francis discovers her players as she goes the extra mile.
The Parvathy Thiruvothu starrer social drama spans out in the backdrop of the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in New Delhi. The protagonist Faiza, who arrives to research a freedom fighter here, gets embroiled in the political protests on the campus for her outspoken views.
The subjects the film targets concern most of the recent events from discrimination against Dalit students to anti-national branding. The political or social situation is viewed from the student’s eyes in the film.
Confessions of a Cuckoo
A journalist and filmmaker Sherin, who plans to film a documentary about the victims of child abuse, lays the first stone after a tragic incident. The film focused on the social issue is set in an orphanage where a murder takes place. The crime leads the journalist to the abuse survivors and their ordeal is narrated to the audience with sheer intensity.
However, the film joins the league of a bunch of previously executed projects on the same subject making quite a negligible impact. What definitely makes the film watchable is the performances by the child actors which would leave a lump in your throat.
The family drama which on only a few occasions gives the female protagonist the centre stage brings out the position of a woman in a household surrounded by men. Set amid the ongoing pandemic, the premise of the film majorly focuses on the financial troubles of the family but we are acquainted with various other revelations too.
Although the story doesn’t sell itself as a female-centric film upfront there are layers of Shirley character, the female lead, that speaks to the audience. One of such instances is revealed in the conversation about Augustine’s, Shirley’s first husband, disappearance and her concern about the questions that could be projected at her by society.