When Amitabh Bachchan was young, he used to be a one man act in his movies, even though the movie had other actors. He could do action, comedy, dance and drama all in the same movie. In his movies heroines would appear for the mandatory song scenes and vanish.
The same is true about Rajnikanth, Vijaykanth, Vijay movies etc. Malayalam movies as usual used to be different. From Sheela, to Sharada to Urvashi, there was always a prominent role for the heroine. In good movies like Manichitratazhu, it was Shobhana who was in the focus, even though it was a Mohanlal movie. Most Malayalam movies were family movies or romantic comedies and always the heroine had an important part.
The only exception used to be Suresh Gopi’s English-Malayalam-Hindi movies which were made to teach Malayalis various other languages. In such Terminator-style movies, Suresh Gopi used to be a one man army eradicating evil from the society and had no time for romance.
But now the trend seems to be changing and Mammotty, Mohanlal and Dileep movies too do not require heroines.
In `Rajamanikyam,’ heroine Padmapriya was just a prop with three scenes, and hero Mammootty did not have a single romantic scene with her! And in `Naran,’ Mohanlal had no heroine, except that it was subtly conveyed that Bhavana develops a soft-corner for him towards the end! There are no duets or romance, as heroines have become just ornamental in today’s superstar films. And a few films like `Makal,’ directed by Jayaraj, in which Shobana had an author-backed role was a total wash-out![ Whither the heroine?]
Due to this most Malayali actresses are moving to Tamil and Telugu movies.
The top five heroines in Tamil and Telugu cinema today are Asin, Nayantara, Gopika, Meera Jasmine, Navya Nair and Renuka Menon while Bhavana, Mallika, Nitya Das, Nandana, Sreedevika, Lakshana and others are waiting for the big break.
Bhavana took the decision to do Tamil films after her films with young heroes either bombed or never saw the light of the day and she could not do films opposite superstars. Now she is making her debut in Tamil opposite Madhavan in `Arya’ and young hero Bharath in `Veyil.'[ Whither the heroine?]
These girls are getting paid a lot more, get roles as heroines and get to act against big name actors in Tamil/Telugu film industry. Due to this older actresses like Rambha, Khushboo and Meena are getting roles as heroines in Malayalam film industry.
That leaves just Kavya Madhavan as the Malayali actress still acting as the heroine in Malayalam movies. She has acted in hit movies like Meesha Madhavan, Thilakkam, Runway, Sadananthante Samayam with Dileep where she was not just a prop in the song scenes. She has also done heroine oriented movies like Gauri Shankaram and Mizhirandilum and off beat films like Annorikkal and Seelavathi.
One day she will get married and quit acting, but atleast till then we have one Malayali actress.