Masculinity and Femininity in Malayalam Cinema

The Malayali audience yearns for a cinematic portrayal like Tessa, who confidently declares her identity as Shruthi from Pondi. Women have played pivotal roles in Malayalam Cinema, from the era of Rosy, who had to go into hiding for her film roles, to contemporary characters like Tessa, Saira, and Appu. However, the societal concept of women in our culture remains perplexing.

Uncanny Perceptions of Women

Our society’s perception of women is paradoxical. While we admire and applaud an acid attack survivor for fiercely pursuing her ambitions, the same society exhibits unnecessary cultural, heritage, and tradition-based reservations when our own sisters seek permission to visit friends. This inconsistency highlights the prevalent double standards ingrained in our societal mindset.

Cinema as a Reflection of Society

The adage that “cinema is a reflection of society” rings true, emphasizing the relevance of the issue of double standards. It becomes apparent when individuals who were deeply moved by the portrayal of a chubby woman in Tamasha pass judgment on others based on their physical appearance. The irony deepens as some express concern about weight gain, suggesting yoga centers and diet plans, contradicting the very sensibility the film aimed to challenge.

Failing to Grasp the Essence of Art

Whether blissfully ignorant or feigning ignorance, the audience’s failure to grasp the essence of art and its artist perpetuates the cycle of double standards. Watching a movie or encountering visual content should prompt introspection rather than perpetuating societal biases. It’s a call for the audience to appreciate art for its intrinsic value, free from preconceived notions and double standards.


The character of Tessa in the movie Charlie resonates deeply with the audience. Her decision to leave everything behind in search of love and the symbolic act of breaking her sim card when her mother calls elicit admiration and laughter. Some may dismiss these reactions, arguing that it’s just a film – a work of fiction that doesn’t reflect real life. However, it’s crucial to recognize the profound influence fiction has had on shaping our values, beliefs, and morals over time.

Evolution of Masculinity in Cinema

The Malayali audience has witnessed a shift in the portrayal of masculinity. Gone are the days of chivalric heroes who could effortlessly defeat hordes of villains. The new age brings forth male characters who are unafraid to display vulnerability – shedding tears, expressing fear, and acknowledging their apprehensions. This evolution is a positive outcome, fostering an environment where boys feel safe from judgment for displaying emotions traditionally associated with femininity.

Changing Roles and Perceptions

In this evolving landscape, traditional notions of masculinity are becoming more feminine, while female characters are breaking away from stereotypical molds. However, a nuanced exploration of these changes is necessary. Women characters should not merely adopt masculine traits but should embody a complex blend of strength and vulnerability. The prevalent belief that courage in women is synonymous with the absence of fear needs reevaluation.

Redefining Courage

Our art has the power to challenge and reshape societal perceptions. Courage, rather than being devoid of fear, should be portrayed as a combination of mental strength and an acceptance of fear. As fiction continues to influence reality, it becomes imperative for our narratives to reflect a more nuanced understanding of masculinity and femininity, fostering an inclusive and authentic representation of human experiences.

“ഈ ധൈര്യം ധൈര്യമാവുന്നത് അതിന്റെ കൂടെ കുറച്ച് ഭയം കൂടി ചേരുമ്പോഴാണ്” – Left right Left.

Share with:

About the Author

Anjali Chakkoth
A traveller at heart, writing is my art. Love is my God and this world is my home. Music is the drug and Cinema is the flame.

2 Comments on "Masculinity and Femininity in Malayalam Cinema"

  1. Sreekumar | 08/15/2019 at 11:51 am |

    Bold and beautiful . When something good happens travel to celebrate, if something bad happens, travel to forget it , if nothing happens, travel to make something happen ???

  2. Anonymous | 08/14/2019 at 4:23 pm |

    Nice review. Keep on writing chechi

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.