Gone are the days when the mindset of an average movie-goer would only accept only a man as the central figure in a film. Times have changed, and it looks like southern cinema is catching up.
The success of Mahanati (Nadigaiyar Thilagam in Tamil), in which Keerthy Suresh played the lead, bodes well for a slew of films centred around women characters that are about to hit the marquee over the next calendar year.
Top women actors such as Nayanthara and Trisha have a minimum of two such films in hand. While the former has Imaikkaa Nodigal, Kolaiyuthir Kaalam and Kolamaavu Kokila on her plate, the latter has Garjanai (Tamil remake of Anushka Sharmaâ€™s NH4) and Mohini.
Telugu actor Anushka Shetty had tasted success at the start of the year with Bhaagamathie, a spooky thriller, while in the Malayalam industry, Manju Warrier has made waves with the film Mohanlal, in which she played a huge fan of a the actor.
Speaking of Jyothika, who is currently in the news for her role opposite Arvind Swami in Mani Ratnamâ€™s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, she has also signed the Tamil remake of Vidya Balanâ€™s Tumhari Sulu. The film is titled Kaatrin Mozhi and will be helmed by Radha Mohan, who has already given Jyothika one of the most memorable films in her career â€“ Mozhi.
Speaking about the project, the director says, â€śIt was a mutual decision between Jyothika, producer Dhananjayan and myself to work on this remake. Tumhari Sulu is known up north for its different storyline and nice humour. We believe we have made the right changes to bring in the local flavour without affecting the soul of the film.â€ť
The shoot for the film is expected to take off in the second week of June, with Vidharth reprising the role of Manav Kaul. It is not only the top women actors, but also the middle rangers who are opting for a swim against the tide. In an industry which mostly treats its woman characters as pure airheads, giving them almost nothing to do in the script, this is a whiff of fresh air and a welcome change creating a paradigm shift in the genres that are being targeted.
Recently, actor Sivakarthikeyan announced his first home production Kanaa, which is expected to be an extremely interesting film narrating the story of a small town girl making it to the Indian cricket team. The film has completed close to 70% of its shoot and is looking at a release in the final quarter of the year.
Lyricist/singer Arunraja Kamaraj, best known for 'Neruppu Da' from Kabali and 'Varlam Varlam Vaa' from Bairavaa, makes his directorial debut with this project which stars Aishwariya Rajesh in the lead role.
An excited Arunraja Kamaraj spills the beans on the film, saying â€śThe whole idea behind the film is to break the usual clichĂ©s. When it comes to cricket, right from MS Dhoni and Iqbal up north to Chennai 28 down south, many films have been churned out in India but they have all been male-oriented. Female cricket is something that hasnâ€™t been tapped yet, and in addition to that, my protagonist is a bowler, specifically a spinner. It is an untouched corner in a famous field.â€ť
Speaking about the effort that Aishwariya Rajesh has put in for her role, he says,â€śWhen she came on board, she was a newbie to cricket. But trust me, she put in a top-level effort to get even the slightest moves right. Aishwariya trained for close to 8 hours a day, for a month, to get into the skin of the character. She grew dark and was almost unrecognisable in front of Mani sir on the sets of her next film, but it was worth it.â€ť
The list of upcoming films centred around women characters proves to be an eye-opener. The themes and subjects are diverse and much of it has been under-explored so far.
Varalaxmi Sarathkumarâ€™s upcoming crime thriller Velvet Nagaram has a couple of realistic action sequences, while Samanthaâ€™s Tamil and Telugu remakes of U-Turn will definitely be a test of brains. Even women actors such as Hansika and Nandita Swetha are working on interesting projects in which their characters are the paramount. Let's hope the trend is here to stay!