Most Indian films are about a larger than life hero who is blessed with superhuman skills and a beautiful woman who has nothing else to do in the story other than break into a dance with him. Substantial roles for women are hard to come by and this is especially true of the Telugu industry which has been criticized for not only misogynistic portrayals but also its treatment of female actors.
The industry is presently gearing up for huge releases in 2017, with Chiranjeevi's 'Khaidi number 150' and Balakrishna's 100th film 'Gautamiputra Satakarni'. There's also the much awaited 'Bahubali 2: The Conclusion' , with the first look poster to be launched in three days. All of these are hero-centric films.
But there is a new crop of female actors in the industry who're trying to catch a break and register their presence, grabbing the opportunity to do meaningful roles while keeping themselves visible in what's known as "commercial" films. Here's a look at some of them.
Anu Emmanuel, who is presently basking in the success of "Majnu" along with actor Nani, is no stranger to the world of film.
Born in Chicago, Anu, who is also the daughter of producer Thankachen Emmanuel, made her debut as a child artist in 2011, in the Malayalam film "Swapna Sanchari".
Following this, Anu went back to finish her education, and returned to do another Malayalam film, "Action Hero Biju", starring opposite Nivin Pauly.
After "Majnu", she now has two more upcoming Telugu films, Gopichand's "Oxygen" and Raj Tarun's next film which is presently being filmed.
She is also planning to make her Tamil debut with director Mysskin's "Thupparivalan" after Rakul Preet Singh opted out of the project.
When asked if she's had an easy ride in the industry in a Times of India interview, Anu said:
Things haven't been all that easy. I have had to audition for my films. Plus, Telugu is an alien language for me. Acclimatising to the language and the people was the most challenging part...Being a heroine and a child artiste are completely different. I didn't know how much work goes in to it. I thought cinema meant glamour â€” putting on make-up and getting on the sets. But the amount of work an actress has or the pressure you have to deal with from early morning to late night â€” I never thought about all these things; I just jumped on board. But every day, I feel like I am evolving as an actress. I am still learning.
Mehreen Kaur Pirzada
20-year-old Mehreen has joined the bandwagon of successful North Indian women who work in the South Indian film industries.
Mehreen made her debut this year with "Krishna Gadi Veera Prema Gadha" (KVPG), opposite Nani in February, which was well received.
Within five days, the movie surpassed the half-million dollar mark in collections at the US box-office.
Mehreen is presently shooting for an upcoming Bollywood romantic comedy, "Phillauri", an Anushka Sharma production in which the Bollywood actor will also star.
â€śI respect cinema and for me language is never a barrier. It does not matter which industry I work for as long as I connect well with the character I choose to play,â€ť she has been quoted as saying.
The movie is expected to release in March 2017.
Her next Telugu project with director Harish Shankar is titled 'Duvvada Jagannadham', where she will be starring opposite Allu Arjun.
The film is slated for a summer 2017 release.
Niveda Thomas is one of the more experienced female actors who have made their foray into the Telugu industry.
Before her successful Tollywood debut with "Gentleman", Niveda, who hails from Kerala's Kannur started her career as a child actor with "Uthara", at the age of eight.
According to reports, Niveda is studying architecture in Chennai and has two more years to go to complete her course.
However, she has managed to balance her career in films and her education.
She has several small and big roles in Tamil and Malayalam films to her credit and is now quite successful in the Telugu industry too.
â€śThereâ€™s a perception that Telugu cinema is only glamour and masala. I feel thatâ€™s changing. I want to be a part of logical, sensible films,â€ť she told The Hindu earlier.
Latest reports suggest that she has been signed on for another upcoming project starring Nani, which is being directed by debutante Siva Sankar Lalam.
26-year-old Ritu Varma was born and brought up in Hyderabad, and has been described as a 'star in the making'.
Making her debut in 2013 with "Badshaah", Ritu went on to star in "Prema Ishq Kaadhal" in the same year, and "Naa Raakumarudu" in 2014.
In 2015, she was nominated in the 'Best Supporting Role - Female' category by IIFA Utsavam for "Yevade Subramanyam", a superhit.
Three years after her debut, Ritu is now working on three projects, including two Tamil films "China" and "Pirai Thaediya Naatkal".
She has also had a successful run with her latest Telugu flick "Pellichoopulu", which won critical acclaim and love from the audience equally for its original storyline and overturning of gender stereotypes.
â€śActually, I never planned on doing films, so Iâ€™ve been accepting only good scripts," Ritu told DC earlier.