News Archieves

Of pimples and bushy eyebrows: Malayalam films celebrating natural beauty on screen

FROM ANDREA IN ‘ANNAYUM RASOOLUM’ TO AMALA PAUL IN ‘MILI’, HERE ARE OUR PICKS FROM MALAYALAM FILMS WHERE THE HEROINE BARELY HAS ANY MAKE-UP ON.
In comparison to other southern industries, heroines in Malayalam cinema have usually worn muted make-up. In contemporary cinema, while the leading ladies of other industries usually sport straightened hair and are almost never seen on screen with skin imperfections or dark circles under their eyes (with a few exceptions like Subramaniyapuram, Kaaka Muttai etc), Malayalam films have frequently shown women protagonists as they are, preferring a natural look that suits the character they are playing.

On the other hand, bold make-up in Malayalam cinema has been subjected to a fair amount of moral judgment on screen. It is the women who play “loud” characters or arrogant ones who have appeared with bold make-up on their face (the “feminist”, ironically, has appeared with lots of make-up in Malayalam films – remember Kaliveedu and the women’s group that “wrongly” advises Manju’s character?). Their “glamour” marks them out as being fake and of poor character.

However, with changing times and more films being made that are set in the urban milieu, it has become more acceptable to see women on screen with some make-up on their face. Even as that may be the case, there are many contemporary Malayalam films where the heroine has worn little to no make-up.

Here are our picks:
Nimisha Sayajan in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

With bushy eyebrows, untamed wavy hair, and no make-up at all save for a bit of kajal, Nimisha looked absolutely natural on screen. The actor charmed the audience with her portrayal of Sreeja, a woman who elopes to get married but has her thaali swallowed by a thief on a bus.

Andrea in Annayum Rasoolum
Andrea usually plays the urban, sophisticated woman. In this Malayalam film about interfaith love, however, she barely had any make-up on. From pimples to shadows below her eyes, the actor was willing to appear on screen as she was and the audience only loved her all the more for it.

Sai Pallavi in Premam
​The film had three heroines but it was Sai Pallavi as Malar teacher who was the unanimous favourite with the audience. The actor has spoken in several interviews about her apprehensions about appearing on screen with skin imperfections but the director, Alphonse Puthren, convinced her to go through with it.

Shaun Romy in Kammattipaadam
The glamorous Shaun Romy is near unrecognisable in this film, playing a young woman from a slum. This is also one of the few films where a fair-skinned hero (Dulquer Salmaan) has been paired with a dark-skinned woman.

Amala Paul in Mili
Playing an introverted, depressed young woman, Amala Paul barely had any make-up on in this film. She also wore a pair of unflattering glasses.

Parvathy in Take Off
For her highly acclaimed film Take Off, Parvathy put on weight and wore no make-up to suit the look of Sameera, a nurse. Parvathy manages to look different in every film she acts in but the Take Off look still came as a surprise.

Nazriya in Om Shanti Oshana
As a schoolgirl who is obsessed with her crush (Nivin Pauly), the young Puja Mathew played by Nazriya looks like the actor just washed her face and turned up for the shoot. Although she wears light make-up when she dresses up or becomes older, the schoolgirl Nazriya is fresh-faced and very believable.

Anna Rajan in Angamaly Diaries
The role of Lichy in Angamaly Diaries, her debut film, won Anna so much love that many still call her by the name. The actor wore very little make-up in the film and looked completely natural on screen.
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