Directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, Master was the much awaited film of Vijay this year. Theatres were opened just for the movie, and it did fairly well amongst Vijay fans. Vijay Sethupathi’s performance was worthy of appreciation, as he donned the role of a villain, for the second time after Vikram Vedha. While on the whole the movie was a commercial success, it featured 2 women, both with meaningless roles. Malavika Mohanan played the leading lady of the film, and hardly had a separate character arc, apart from the fact that she romanced Vijay. Similarly, Andrea plays a role of a classmate and friend of Vijay and randomly makes an appearance at the end of the movie, with her bows and arrows, to avenge her husband’s death. Even then though she is supposed to be a professional archer, she couldn’t fight the battle and Vijay had to save her. This entry seemed very forced into the movie, as she had no specific role apart from this scene. So, while this movie was considered a ‘Blockbuster’ for Vijay fans, it was just another commercial movie where the women were fit in as a tradition.
Starring Simbu and Nidhhi Agerwal, Eeswaran was a family-drama movie set in a village at COVID times. This movie was released for Pongal and actually dealt with the pandemic in its story. While the movie was watchable as a family, it had not one but two actresses, with no roles whatsoever, other than related to the Hero. Nandita Swetha plays Simbu’s ex-lover while Nidhhi Agerwal, her sister, plays his current lover. Except for singing duet songs with Simbu, Nidhhi had no other role in the film. Nandita’s screen time was very less and hardly made an appearance in the film. It is to be noted that this movie was Nidhhi Agerwal’s debut in Tamil.
This movie of Jayam Ravi, released early this year for Pongal, on OTT. Directed by Lakshman, the movie fared pretty badly because it was a preachy film that majorly dealt with farmers and their struggles. The movie could have done well in terms of storyline and dialogue. Keeping this aside, Nidhhi Aggerwal played the female lead of the movie, and it was her second movie, after her debut with Eeswaran. Again, this movie also featured her as a mere love interest and assigned no importance to her character as such. The movie is not even a commercial movie. It is an action drama film that would remain the same even without her role in the film.
Sulthan featured Karthi and Rashmika Mandanna, where the latter debuted with this film into Kollywood. Directed by Bakkiyaraj Kannan, the movie is surrounded entirely by Karthi and his gang of rowdies that he has to protect. Now, one may argue that Rashmika was given some role in the film as she has considerable screen time in the movie. But, even without her character, Karthi would have still remained in the village to protect his rowdy brethren and the movie would have gone on. So, again Rashmika comes as a village girl in the film only because the hero cannot go without a heroine in a mass film like Sulthan. Her role in the film was pretty meaningless and she could have chosen a better movie for her Kollywood debut.
Doctor was a much awaited release for Sivakarthikeyan, this year. The movie, directed by Nelson Dilipkumar, fared well in theatres and was recognised for its comedy portions. Priyanka Mohan played the leading lady of the film, alongside Sivakarthikeyan. She debuted in Kollywood with this film. The movie was termed misogynistic ever since its release because all through the film the hero keeps belittling the heroine. There are even some dialogues like, “azhaga irundha arivu suthama irukadhu” which means, “If one is beautiful one will not be intelligent.” This and many other scenes in the movie were quite problematic and sexist. For example, her father says she needs a guy to put her in place just because she had a preference of her own. In addition to this, Priyanka played no better role than a supporting actor in the film. Archana Chandoke had a more meaningful role in the movie, as a mother whose child was kidnapped. All through the movie, Priyanka made appearances only to try and romance Sivakarthikeyan, which was also not done so well. On the whole, her character was unnecessary and meaningless in the movie.
Starring Vishal and Arya, Enemy was an action-thriller, directed by Anand Shankar. This movie starred Mirnalini Ravi, a newbie as the pair of Vishal and Mamta Mohandas as Arya’s pair. For the unversed. Vishal plays the protagonist and Arya, the antagonist. Now, although Mamta Mohandas comes for very little time in the film, she plays a very important role and causes a major twist in the film. Mirnalini, on the other hand, is as usual kept in the film, only as a glam doll that falls in love with Vishal. She sings a song with him in the moments that she actually comes in the film, and has no other role apart from that.
Annatthhe was Rajnikanth’s film of the year with Rajni fans not being able to wait for the film. The film was a commercial success, but it was quite unwatchable. It was a mix of all sister-brother sentiment movies that Tamil cinema has ever seen. The movie had, not one, not two, but four actresses. 2 of the 4 played ‘important’ roles in the film. Keerthy’s role was quite justified, as the movie almost wholly is based on her and Rajnikanth. Nayanthara’s role was highly questionable because of two reasons. One, because it was unacceptable for audiences to see Rajnikanth romance Nayanthara, given the age difference. Two, because it felt like she was forced into Keerthy and Rajni’s lives, in order for him to have a love interest. Coming to Meena and Kushboo’s so-called comical roles, they were super meaningless and unnecessary in the movie. Maybe if their roles were cut out of the film, the movie would have been shorter, even if not watchable. Being one of the most mass-hero films of the year, the film entirely failed to cater to the females of the movie.
Venkat Prabhu’s Maanadu was a pretty good concept and Simbu and SJ Suryah did a good job in the movie. The film dealt with the time-loop concept in a great way with no misses or confusions. It was purely entertaining and enjoyable. But again, Kalyani Priyadarshan’s role in the film has nothing to do with the concept at all. The movie acts as a Tom and Jerry chase between Simbu and SJ Suryah where most of the characters apart from the two only become supporting ones. So, Kalyani too, becomes more of a supporting character, which is actually not entirely necessary and could have had any other actor also instead. She hardly had any screen time in the film, and even when she did, it was surrounding Simbu and his time loop. Her character could have been entirely avoided, given that Simbu did not exactly romance her as well.
Some of these movies were hits, while some were misses. But, all these movies failed to recognise their female leads. Kollywood has normalised actresses making an appearance only for the actor and to show that he has a love interest. Just like the outside world, the movie world also shows that the heroine’s life is surrounded by the hero’s life and every action she takes corresponds to his decisions. Directors should first stop adding female leads with meaningless roles in stories and actually write them in only if they have a role to play in the movie.