Over the years, Malayalam cinema has given us many inspiring female characters. Not just female protagonists who know how to kick some serious ass, but other fleshed-out characters, be it a mother, sister or friend.
Remember Tessa from 22 Female Kottayam? The film shattered a lot of glass ceilings in one go, and even today, it’s safe to say that we’ve not since seen such raw representation of vengeance from the female perspective. While Tessa was a strong inspiration to toughen up when situation demands, a more recent Tessa from Charlie influenced us to follow one’s gut, however crazy it may seem.
And while I have a long list of memorable ones such as Sameera from Take Off, Nirupama Rajeev from How Old Are You, Lilli from Lilli and two Tessas, there are a few others who would make for great BFFs in real life.
Apu or Aps (Aishwarya Lekshmi), as Mathan (Tovino Thomas) lovingly calls her, tops my list of could-be/want-to-be BFFs. Apu is a fighter but she is also vulnerable, just like you and me. What sets her apart from other heroines is the fact that she is classy and opinionated in her own way. Aparna also stands for what she feels is right. For instance, when Sameera (Leona Lishoy) demands that a slo-mo of her navel be edited off the film, Apu not just stands by her bestie but also scowls at the director who has a difference of opinion. Clearly, Apu has her own demons to deal with but she is also that shoulder for her buddies to lean on.
I am still not sure how happily-ever-after her forever with Mathan would have been, but I know for sure that she’ll be a soul friend.
Goes without saying that we all need a Jenny ‘Koode’ (with us). Nazriya Nazim’s character from this Anjali Menon film is a ray of sunshine. She is charming, adorable and a bundle of positivity who breathes life into her Cha’s life. Many I know look down upon this character as being excessively cute, but I beg to differ. Movies and life have taught us that if you’ve a disability or a life-altering illness, you either go down a dungeon of self-loathing (Joshua’s football coach in the same film) or be the cliched talent that bypasses hurdles to conquer the world. But what about us laypeople? The ones who neither want to live in darkness nor have it in us to rule the world? Appreciating the smaller things in a middle class family and living life to the fullest, one moment at a time, isn’t all that horrible, people! You’d probably clone off as Stephen Louis (Jayasurya) from Beautiful or be a Jenny, and that’s fine too.
So, while there’s another list of so-called ‘bubbly’ characters I’d keep an arm’s length from, I will most certainly appreciate the presence of a Jenny in my life.
How could this listicle move further without mentioning Anna Ben’s charismatic Helen? The movie stayed with me owing to not just the superb execution of the plot, but also because of Helen, herself. Helen’s smile is infectious. Even the grumpiest of us will succumb to that cheek-to-cheek grin. It’s not every day that you come across a person who’s humane and kind. Compassion and empathy is as rare as a diamond, and Helen is just as bright. She’s the kind of person who notices a conservancy worker’s change of earring or acknowledges the presence of a security guard. Who goes about her mundane life and still has an adorable smile at the end of every day. If you think you’ll like this too, do get in touch soon.
Needless to say, Uyare is an inspiring film at various levels. In addition to the cliched ‘follow your passion’ concept, the film gives a whole new perspective on staying motivated even when the world around you crashes or, in this case, when you crumble under unforeseen circumstances. Pallavi Raveendran (Parvathy) undoubtedly remains a motivation, but her friend Sariya D’Costa (Anarkali Maarikar) deserves a bit of spotlight as well. Sariya is that one person who constantly asks Pallavi to weed out the negativity (Govind) in her life but she also respects and never demeans Pallavi’s decision to get engaged to male chauvinist that Govind (Asif Ali) is.
Later, when Pallavi experiences the biggest trauma that life throws at her in the form of an acid attack, Sariya stands rock solid by her bestie. The scene where Sariya hugs an inconsolable Pallavi post her surgery, speaks volumes about her. A classic example of staying together through thick and thin. There are enough Pallavis out there but very few Sariyas. Agree?
Kannamma (Ayyappanum Koshiyum)
Kannamma (Gauri Nanda) is one of those rare gems neatly characterised and aptly portrayed. She calls a spade a spade, or in Koshi’s case (Prithviraj), she points out that he’s a bourgeois rascal without any qualms. Bold, brave, feisty … and all their synonyms perfectly adorn this woman. Who would want to lock horns with her? I am not sure if Kannamma would want to be friends with me, but hey woman, please.
Annmariya (Annmariya Kalippilaanu)
Ten-year-old Annmariya (Sara Arjun) is the youngest but the most vibrant in this list. She’s everything a 10-year-old will be. Naive and sensitive yet matured and understanding of her circumstances.
Young Ann believes in angels to fulfill her wishes but also hires a goon to beat up her trainer. She is intelligent yet impulsive and emotional yet brave too. Remember Ann and Giri’s camaraderie? If this little one could inspire a goon to ditch his lackadaisical life for a meaningful one, she could touch a chord in us as well.