Year-ender: Women show their mettle in Kollywood

Women-centric movies are on the rise in Kollywood in recent years thanks to the two female superstars of the industry, Jyothika and Nayanthara, who pioneered and sent out a ray of hope in the male-dominant system by starring in heroine-led movies and laid a new path of feminism in K’town.
The year 2018 had 15 women-centric films played by leading heroines, including Jyothika, Trisha, Nayanthara, Samantha, Anushka, Keerthi Suresh and Aishwarya Rajesh. Apart from them, even male-centric movies portrayed strong women who have been shown as weak and objectified for a long time in cinema. Here’s is our pick of some impressive and boldly depicted super-hero(ines) of Kollywood this year.

Naachiyaar IPS – Jyothika – Naachiyaar

When the trailer of this movie was released in late 2017, social media, which has always taken cuss words so cool, went crazy as Jyothika uttered one.
But, when the movie hit the screens, the placement of the word in the film made so much sense and it was finally Jyothika’s day.
This Bala film was not just about how bold the protagonist is, but what kind of a decision she takes in a situation where she stands with a rape victim and her lover.
Savithri – Keerthi Suresh – Nadigaiyar Thilagam

Bio-pics on women icons is a rare occurrence in Kollywood. The last time, it was Kovilpatti Veeraletchumi.

There have been a lot of women idolised in their time but later forgotten. Nadigaiyar Thilagam on yesteryear legendary actress Savithri is a gem, in that case.
The film had some bold moments of how the men in Savithri’s life ruined her. Keerthi Suresh for her part, had it big-time earning a name, finally, for her acting skills.

Selvi – Easwari Rao – Kaala

Kaala, indeed, was the only male-centric movie in recent times to have so many independent and bold women. Among them, Selvi, who is Kaala’s wife, was people’s favourite.
Not all wives can ask their men to book tickets to meet their ex-boyfriend. Selvi does that. In fact, Selvi is the only person who is the decision maker for the whole family. Whatever becomes the decision of Selvi, Kaala obeys it. Even if Kaala takes a decision that would be on a par with Selvi’s interest.
Zareena – Huma Qureshi – Kaala

The Rajinikanth-starrer had a very unique screenplay in which, though Kaala is the protagonist, the characters around him drive the story. His sons, his people, his enemies and the women in his life.

Zareena, among them, has the most significant position. Her influence in the film seems to be against Kaala initially. But once she understands what the real conflicts are, she readily changes her mindset and stands by Kaala. But, in both cases, she wants to serve the people. As a single mother, Zareena’s role is shown as the boldest one of all in the film.
Puyal – Anjali Patil – Kaala

There was a time when Rajinikanth films had dialogues like ‘Pombala adakkama irukkanum, agambaavam irukkakoodathu’ and ‘Adhikama kova padura pombala nalla vaazhnthathaa sarithirame illa’.

Even his film after Kaala, 2.0, was subtly objectifying women, though she was in the form of a humanoid. But Puyal in Kaala is not the usual Rajini-film woman. She is bold both physically and mentally.
From the first frame where she stands up for the rights of people in an agitation till the last frame where she rises up with a rod to strike at the goons who try to strip and defame her, Puyal remains a puyal – literally.
Kokila – Nayanthara – Kolamaavu Kokila

It starts with the characterisation of Kokila (Nayanthara). It is not very easy to judge this middle-class girl.

Whether she is highly fearful, really innocent, over smart or gutsy? But filmmaker Nelson wants the audience to understand that she is independent and ready to go to any extent to save her family.
The way she defends herself and her family from every trouble until the last frame is where the film succeeded.
Meera – Lakshmi Priyaa – Odu Raja Odu

She is basically a working woman who supports her husband who is a wannabe writer. But at a point in time, she goes mad at him for a very silly reason – for not buying a set-top box.

However, her husband and the audience come to know what her real expectation is. Meera has a very unique style in letting know her need and revealing a surprise to her husband.
Mary – Ashiqa Salvan – Odu Raja Odu

It was really hard for men who watched the movie to accept the way Mary lives her life, with two men. But, among movies that idolised polygamy, like Agni Natchathiram, Rettaivaal Kuruvi and Sathi Leelavathi and were also accepted by people, Odu Raja Odu broke the stereotype to show a woman who opts for polyandry. If we think without getting into a social debate, the role of Mary is something that a male chauvinistic film industry badly has to admit.

Regina aka Ranguski – Chandini – Raja Ranguski

The film seems to be Raja-centric for a major portion of its run-time. However, as it turns out to be Ranguski-centric, with everything falling in place in the screenplay.

We feel like Ranguski fits into the template of the loosu-ponnu of Tamil cinema, who actually was making Raja the loosu paiyan all this time.
Also, there was the last chance for her to become the conventional heroine of Kollywood who falls for a guy out of sympathy. Still, she mocks at him with a savage statement and dies like a king, sorry, queen.
Maria – Anupama Kumar – Raja Ranguski

One feels like Maria’s role in the film was absurd in nature. Though the entire film picks up pace after she gets killed, the characterisation of her role is quite quirky.

When the suspense breaks, in the end, we get to see the other side of Maria. Maria’s characterisation is one of the very few experiments we have had in cinema in terms of profiling a person in the plot. We have all details about her thrown at us at the very start. Still, we are deliberately distracted from them and get a blow in the climax.
Janaki Devi – Trisha and Gouri Kishan – 96

A proper relationship drama like this could be one of the best ways to show how transition occurs in a woman’s character arc. Say, in her childhood, Janu (Gouri) does not have a way to think or live independently. There will be a dialogue where Janu says her birthday dress was selected by her father.

So was every decision in her life, including her wedding. But, the grown-up Janu (Trisha) is a bit mature who takes decisions for Ram’s life. She registers for him on a matrimonial site and wants him to get married. The movie was, in a layer, a complete transformation in Janu’s life.
Chandra – Andrea – Vada Chennai

With so many powerful men in the plot, this film was totally driven by Chandra. At the end of the day, she is the one who decides what has to happen in the life of every man around her.

The Vetrimaaran movie, where the carrom board has a significance, becomes a metaphor. Anbu (striker), and the two sides have a lot of coins (Senthil gang and Guna gang). And, it is Chandra, the player who uses the striker – Anbu to pocket all the coins.
Kousalya Murugesan – Aishwarya Rajesh – Kanaa

Kanaa is definitely the first movie of its kind to have a parallel narration between two extremes, cricket and agriculture. But in both, the film spoke about the struggling side of the entities – women’s cricket and drought-hit agriculture.

The USP of Kousalya’s character is that it turns out to be a generalised depiction of women in society. Kousi is demotivated by one section of the system she lives in, while at every point of time there is this the other section that wants her to rise up from all odds.

From her anna in the neighbourhood who wants her back on the ground to play cricket after her puberty to her coach (Sivakarthikeyan) who encourages her to speak only after she wins (Jeichutu pesu).

Santhosh Mathevan