‘Parinayam’ had Mohini playing a young Namboothiri girl standing up against the patriarchy prevailing in the society. This Hariharan directorial remains one of the finest feminist movies ever made in Malayalam. This bold tale of defiance also starred Manoj K. Jayan, Vineeth, and Nedumuni Venu in prominent roles.
2. Female Kottayam (2011)
This revenge drama had
Rima Kallingal and
Fahadh Faasil in the lead. Directed by Ashiq Abu, the film narrated the life of a young Malayali nurse who travels to Bangalore in search of a job. Rima’s portrayal of the revenge-driven Tessa is considered to be one of the strongest female characters in Malayalam.
3. Avalude Raavukal (1978)
‘Avalude Raavukal’ narrated the story of a prostitute and her encounters with her ‘customers’. The hidden feminism in the movie, whether intended or not, is what makes the movie special. Directed by the veteran I.V Sasi, the movie had Seema in the lead, and discussed the period’s political and social backdrop through the various characters.
Naalu Pennungal (2007)
An Adoor Gopalakrishnan directorial, this movie tells the tale of four women from different strata of the society. The film had Geethu Mohandas, Padmapriya,
Nandita Das, and
Manju Pillai, playing the virgin, the prostitute, the spinster, and the housewife respectively. It also had
Kavya Madhavan and K.P.A.C Lalita playing prominent characters.
5. How Old Are You? (2014)
This Rosshan Andrews movie marked the comeback of
Manju Warrier in the film industry and the film itself was about a housewife re-discovering her dreams, which she had to sacrifice for a family life. The movie raises the question, ‘Who decides the expiry date of a woman’s dreams?’ The blockbuster rocketed Manju to the position of a superstar, making her a mascot of feminism in Kerala.
‘Kalimannu’ had the daring Swetha Menon playing a woman who gets pregnant with her deceased husband’s sperm. The struggles she has to undertake in order to become a mother in a patriarchal society, forms the crux of the story. Directed by Blessy, the movie faced controversies regarding the childbirth scene, which in fact, was a real life clip of Swetha giving birth to her daughter.
7. 5 Sundarikal (2013)
This anthology of five feminist short films- Sethulakshmi, Gowri, Isha, Kullante Bharya, and Aami- had Baby Anikha, Kavya Madhavan,
Reenu Mathews, and
Asmita Sood in the lead. The tales of five different women, told by five different directors, gained critical acclaim for its bold and experimental content. Baby Anikha won a State Award for her performance.
8. Agnisakshi (1999)
Based on the novel by Lalithambika Andarjanam, this Shyamaprasad directorial had Sobhana in the lead. The film portrayed the life of a Brahmin family in Kerala, during the Independence period. The plot explores how the dreams of a young wife clash with her family’s reluctance to accept the changes that are taking place in the society.
9. Ozhimuri (2012)
‘Ozhimuri’ is a period drama directed by Madhupal, which explores the freedom women enjoyed in the old Travancore. Swetha Menon, Mallika, and Bhavana play the roles of three women who come into and leave marks in the life of Thanupillai, played by Lal. The film’s take on the subject of love was widely debated and questioned upon its release.
10. Trivandrum Lodge (2012)
Directed by V.K Prakash and starring
Honey Rose in the lead role, this movie courted controversy for its open dialogues on the topics of lust and sex. The story takes place in a lodge, where a woman arrives, bringing along with her a sense of mystery. Her study of the rest of the inhabitants of the lodge forms the plot of the movie.