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#BreakingTheBarriers: Hey Jude, Aami and other films that had women challenging the patriarchal society

ZEE5 Web Desk

March 2, 2021

6 min


Here are some of the boldest female characters of Malayalam cinema who inspired us by standing their ground against the patriarchal society.

We all love it when a hero stands up for his rights and fights off the villain in a stylish way. How about a heroine fighting the villains, i.e. the wrongdoings in the society? We have all grown to learn that the world is unfair to women and equality is something to be fought for, when it should be a given. However, there are some movies and characters who take this up seriously and make it point to aim their arrows right at the heart of everything wrong with the patriarchal society.

Missed out on Prathi Poovankozhi? Watch the trailer here:


Based on the life of one of the most celebrated writers of our time, Kamala Surayya, also known as Madhavikutty, Aami was simply a movie to embrace. From Manju Warrier’s remarkable performance to its pitch-perfect adaptation, the movie was director Kamal’s ode to the writer. However, what really stood out was the accurate portrayal of the extraordinary life of the author and it was revolutionary. From getting married at the young age of 15 and getting into a complicated marriage with a man who was 20 years older than her to indulging in a communal crossfire for living on her own terms, her life was a slap to everything wrong with the society around her. She had her fair share of fights, changing her name and marrying a Muslim man. The exemplary writer’s life was a war against the misogynistic and conservative elements of the society. The movie is a must-watch for every woman out there.

Manju Warrier in Aami
Manju Warrier in Aami (Source: ZEE5)

Prathi Poovankozhi

Madhuri from Prathi Poovankozhi will go down as one of the strongest characters of Malayalam movies in recent times. The thriller drama led by Manju Warrier talks about the life of Madhuri and her lone fight against society. It all starts when she is assaulted by a local rowdy, Antappan, and takes an oath to fight back. Madhuri’s struggle aptly show how little society cares about a woman and even makes it easy for men to get away with things. Madhuri holds tight to her will and teaches Antappan a lesson with minimal support from the people around her. Madhuri’s fightback spreads inspiration for women out there to point fingers against the atrocities they face.


Though not literally a fight against patriarchy, the adventure horror-thriller Neeli, directed by Althaf Rahman is philosophical in many ways. An unconventional adaptation of a long-forgotten legend, Neeli is the story we have all heard growing up but with a twist. Revolving around Lakshmi, a single mother who returns to her ancestral home following her husband’s suicide shines light upon women’s lives in such a situation. Things escalate as her daughter gets kidnapped by a strange man and Lakshmi, played by Mamta Mohandas, resorts to supernatural forces for help. The movie shows how a dreaded supernatural force and a mother’s resilient fight for her lost daughter go hand in hand, and how common their lives are. While the movie shines brightly upon the message of the unconditional love of a mother, it also takes a jab at how the two female characters relate to their lives being made hell by men around them.

A still from the movie Neeli (Source: ZEE5)

Also read: Sathya Enna Penkutty: With Divya starting to ask questions, what new turn will Sathya’s life take?

Hey Jude 

Hey Jude tells the story of Jude, who suffers from autism spectrum disorder, and his travel to the scenic setting of Goa. Jude, who falls out with his family, meets Crystal, played by Trisha, a self-confident youth. Crystal suffers from bi-polar disorder herself but that doesn’t make her any different from the people around her. Crystal turns Jude’s life upside down with her little nuances and lessons on how society’s judgment means nothing once we overcome fears. Crystal runs her own business and looks after her father, living on her own terms, and doesn’t put any limitations on herself for being a woman with a disorder. Throughout the movie, we hear characters have opinions about her, which least affects the woman’s aura. She is well aware of her surroundings and is always ready to fight any obstacle the misogynistic world decides to throw in front of her.

Trisha Krishnan in Hey Jude
Trisha Krishnan in Hey Jude (Source: ZEE5)

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