Masculinity and Femininity in Malayalam Cinema

The Malayali audience needs a Tessa who can say nonchalantly that she is Shruthi from Pondi. Women have been an integral part of Malayalam Cinema, starting with Rosy, who had to go absconding because she acted in a film, till our Tessa, Saira, Appu and so forth. The concept we have about women, in our society, is very uncanny. We look upto women like the acid attack survivor who fiercely pursued her ambition, but when our own sister asks for permission to visit a friend, that unwanted sense of culture, heritage and tradition hits us.

They say, cinema is a reflection of the society it is born into. The issue of double standards become relevant here. The people who were so touched by the chubby woman in Tamasha, walks past me, judging me for my chubby looks, and it does not end there. Some are so concerned about me getting fat, they suggest good yoga centres and diet plans. Isn’t this the same sensibility that the film’s politics particularly refuted? We watch a movie, a visual or anything that we come across which has its own means and ends. Blissfully ignorant or probably pretending to be so, we are failing the art and its artist.


We love Tessa for leaving everything behind and going in search of Charlie. We laugh when we see her break her sim card when her mother calls. Can any of us react in the same manner? When I ask this, you will brand me as a mad woman because as some of us say, “its a film, not real life, or its fiction”. But what we have to understand is that this fiction has been the factor which has altered our values, beliefs and morals, gradually. The Malayali audience have stopped accepting chivalric masculinity as well – no more heroes who can fight down a hundred henchmen of the villain, no more mass heroes who can sent rockets to the moon with the bullet he took on his chest.

We have lovely men who are not afraid to cry, who have no inhibitions to feel scared, who feel scared to walk alone at night, who cannot drink or smoke. Thanks to the new age, this is a positive outcome. Boys are safe from the being judged as gay for crying “like a girl”. I have observed that the roles are slowly changing – masculinity is being more feminine, while femininity is lost in women characters who behave like men. Many of us continue to believe that absence of fear is a mark of courage in women. Our art needs to remind us that courage is a mix of lots of mental strength and acceptance of fear.

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

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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

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