How did women-centric films go from being a norm to an exception?

Somewhere in the nineties, our heroines grew meeker. While there are filmmakers like Mani Ratnam whose women characters are a delight, they became the exception rather than the norm. Cut to the 1960s and we get K Balachandar, one of the finest directors from Kollywood’s stable. In fact, Balachandar was known for his problem-plagued, struggling heroines. I know that Charan pushed for it along with @aryasukku ❤❤I think it was a lovely gesture. The film was an extraordinary success and got a remake in Hindi in 1947 which made MS a national star. Samantha had acknowledged that not all leading ladies get the gesture, “Releasing a special teaser for the heroine is not something that usually happens. The film titled Sumangali has its women leads Malathi and Kumari on its posters. The years 2016 and 2017 were considered to be a harbinger of change for women in Tamil cinema. The fact that cinema can revolve around women seems new to many — a pleasant surprise. The most interesting fact is that these were all part of the mainstream commercial space. There are several new, distinctive voices who are not afraid to speak their mind and refuse to back down — take Amala Paul, Sruthi Hariharan for example. Meera was the final film of the legendary musician and it was one of her best performances. Apart from these women, we have several other faces who are each breaking stereotypes with élan. This narrative became stronger in the early 2000s. The formula for mass cinema changed with patronising overtones. The change has reached our older actors too who are also getting roles they deserve (Revathy in Pa Paandi, Ramya Krishnan in Baahubali and Thaana Serndha Kootam). Would you believe me when I say a poster of 1940 Telugu film has its two female protagonists on its promotional material? Off-screen, we see more women enter production, direction, cinematography and several other fields. Bama Vijayam, Iru Kodugal, Arangetram, Aval Oru Thodar Kadhai, Aboorva Ragangal, Avargal, Thappu Thalangal, Sindhu Bhairavi — the list is long. Our heroines don’t have a ‘shelf life’ anymore; they don’t have to stop working when they get married or don’t have to be there just for the glamour quotient. And they came without the tag of a ‘heroine/women-centric film’. Recently, the makers of the upcoming film Rangasthalam decided to unveil their first round of promotional material. This Women’s day, let’s take a step back to a place where it isn’t special for women to get attention; to an era where being ‘woman-centric’ is not the exception but the norm. Words such as feminism and women-centric were increasingly thrown in the mix with cinema. Other women largely chose to stay at home once they got a husband. And, actresses are ‘retired’ by the industry. The late veteran filmmaker gave several remarkable films where heroines shouldered the film. If it is Manju Warrier in Malayalam, we have Jyothika in Tamil. Women-centric films have never been new to us. Even in the 1980s heroines were getting meatier roles. It isn’t an exaggeration when I say that MS truly headlined Meera — she breathed life and soul into the film and its music. The film had a special screening for Jawaharlal Nehru and went on to get international acclaim. We had stellar actresses in Radha, Radhika, Suhasini, Ambika, Sridevi, Revathy and several others who each have a list of memorable, iconic characters. In a complete cycle, our women are once again taking charge. Body shaming, casting couch, pay parity, working after marriage, author-backed roles — every ‘restriction’ that has been placed in the past few years are now being erased. 2018-03-08T11:09:46+00:00″>
Updated: March 8, 2018 11:09 am

Our heroines don’t have a ‘shelf life’ anymore; they don’t have to stop working when they get married or don’t have to be there just for the glamour quotient. But has it been always been so? There is Trisha who recently completed 15 years as a heroine and is currently headlining a bunch of films. The earliest example I can think of is MS Subbalakshmi’s 1945 film Meera. It’s strange how things have changed,” said KR Vijaya in a telling interview with Silverscreen in 2017. There were also noteworthy additions from other filmmakers such as Rudhraiya-Sripriya’s Aval Appadithan, one of the most radical films to be made. They were strong characters bound by the thoughts of the era, but with a distinct and clear voice. Ram Charan’s look was launched first and then leading lady Samantha’s look was launched separately in a small video. Well-written women characters were still prevalent. For all the latest Entertainment News, download Indian Express App
© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd “Back then, only actresses worked after marriage. We have Nayanthara, Parvathy, Anushka Shetty being hailed as Lady Superstars in their main languages. Now, other women go to work after marriage. Thank you very much,” she had tweeted. Acting after marriage seems like a herculean decision now, but yesteryear actresses like KR Vijaya have done it with no questions asked. And even more so, the film was about a widow who sought to remarry.