varnachitram

A Blog on Cinema

Finding the perfect heroine

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mahas

(Written by Guest Contributor Unni)

Here’s are some heroines of the recent movies of our ageing (in body, not in mind) super-stars.

Mammotty: Katrina Kaif (Balram vs Tharadas), Sneha (Thuruppugulan), Padmapriya (Rajamanikkyam), Nikhita (Bus Conductor), Nayantara (Rappakal), Mohini (Vesham), Shreya Reddy (Black). His heroines for upcoming movies include Aditi Rao/Sandhya (Prajapathi)

Mohanlal: Meera Jasmine (Rasathanthram), Meera Vasudevan (Thanmathra), Devayani/Bhavana (Naran), Meena (Chandrolsavam, Udayanaanu Thaaram). His heroines for new movies include Padmapriya (Vadakkumnathan), and Laila (Mahasamudram)

It is interesting to see that there are just 4 Malayali faces among this list of 15 which brings forth the question – why do our heroes get heroines from out of state most of the time?

One possible reason could be that they do not want the heroine to occupy more screen space than the hero. In majority of the cases, these heroines are reduced to mere props – make an entrance, show some glamour (the scale of display depends on the director), fall in love with the hero, cry a bit, do a song or two and make it to the final family get-together or just disappear altogether.

Now if we take the case of Malayalam heroines – be it Meera, Kavya or Navya, they dont survive by show of glamour. All of them are talented actresses and can take the shine of the hero’s performance. Actresses like Rambha and Meena who expose generously in Tamil and Telugu do not do so in Malayalam movies. Imports like Meera Vasudevan have shown their talent in acting too. On the other hand, with heroines like Katrina, you get the publicity and the added bonus of glamour display.

Yet another reason, why our heros look for ladies from across the border ,could be because they feel they would look younger if they are paired with a 20 year old. Gone are the days when our heroes were paired with heroines, with not much age-difference between them – examples being Shobana, Revathi, Urvashi, and Karthika. In those days, heroines needed to act also. But as times changed, the importance of the heroine in our movies has also declined.

Having said this importing a heroine may not always be the perfect solution, as they might throw tantrums and find it difficult to adjust to the Malayali way of movie-making where discipline is paramount and budget is not exactly extravagant. The trick therefore seems to be to strike a fine balance between glamour, acting abilities and renumeration. This would also explain why finding leading ladies for our heros seem to be one of the most challenging tasks in Malluwood.

4 Comments

  1. Ugh!

    Frankly, in the whole industry, I pity the heroines. Even though they talk about the miserable life of the technicians behind the camera a lot, imagine these poor barely 20 or younger girls having to run around with the likes of Mammooty, Mohanlal, Sureshgopi and even Dileep! Truly sad cases.

    And coming to the matter of the heroines of earlier times, actually, age was not a problem, b/c at their time, heros like Mohanlal/Sureshgopi were in their late 20s/30s(talking about Urvashi etc).

  2. Given that for “mainstream” malayALam films glamour/sex is far from being the USP ( and I would prefer it to remain that way ), the not-so-classy movies ( i.e., most of the movies ) cash in on such factors as humour and action. Certainly our society doesn’t want action-heroines ( I don’t want either ); may be partly because female body is considered more graceful while executing continuous movements and male body while executing discrete motions ( essentially the difference between shObhana’s dance and prabhudEva’s dance ). As for humour, may be because men are more naturally humorous or may be because society appreciates humour from men more ( note that whenever there is a clownish role, whenever there is a role involving utter humiliation of a character meant to be portrayed as funny, the clown is a man – even in the west ), usual heroines don’t have much scope in that arena also. Due to these two factors, it is only natural that the male characters get more screen space. And this is not an obvious case of discrimination against women – for, while several actresses get a chance in movies as heroines, only a handful of men are able to stay on as heroes; so there are advantages and disadvantages for both men and women.

    If our society is to be criticised for not appreciating female action or female humour then western and other fashion circuits need to be criticized for giving more money, recognition and space to female fashion models. If the latter is a question of personal taste, so is it in the case of our society as well.

    I don’t know how serious sk was but there is no point in pitying the heroines. Anyone would be willing to dance with mammUTTi or mOhanlAl if they would be paid the kind of money the heroines receive.

  3. froginthewell, you talk about female action and female humor in detail and it is partly true. Recently there were two movies, Perumazhakkalam and Achuvinte Amma, which were female driven movies. Saira, and Kanne Madanguka had only Navya Nair as their USP and Padom Unnu oru Vilapam had Meera Jasmine as the only known face.

    So people are making movies with female leads, sadly, they do not set the box office on fire. Partly so many of those movies are made for the award jury and not for public consumption.

  4. Thanks for replying, VC. I think the movies you mentioned were based on strong stories. Such movies ( as also somewhat lighter ones like nandanam ) aren’t based on formulas like action or humour, so can offer lots of scope to female characters as well as male characters. I am inclined to believe that it is people’s taste for formulas that is responsible for stories with female leads sinking.

    Also, there is the factor that actresses stop acting after marrying – something that prevents them from staying as long in the field as mOhanlAl or mammUTTi or some of the Hollywood heroines to make a name for themselves. Certainly the superheroes had taken a lot of time to establish the “brand value” they have.

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