Despite the oft-touted narrative that women-centric films are a rapidly growing trend in India, mainstream cinema is not generally known for its portrayal of strong women characters. Actresses often tend to be given roles that are extraneous to the main narratives of most films.
You could probably count on one hand the number of women characters that stand out in our memories of mainstream cinema
That also seems to be the case in South Indian cinema, where women often appear simply to adorn the male lead and dance around him at periodic intervals. The general belief is that for strong women characters and cinematic narratives woven around them, one has to turn to parallel cinema.
There are exceptions, however, and Malayalam cinema certainly seems to boast of more than a mere handful. Indeed, hereâ€™s a Youtube video that collects 50 examples of women in Malayalam films that hold their own.
As the video suggests, what makes these films remarkable is that everyone from the average cameraman to the script writer to the director and even the stunt master knows how to make male characters look strong and powerful. But doing the same for a female lead is much harder, and that makes these performances all the more remarkable.
So if youâ€™re looking for actresses and characters that stand out for emotional depth and narrative complexity, rather than for beautiful faces, fair skin or svelte figures, hereâ€™s the place to start.