Sixty-year-old “super stars” choosing to cast only 17- or 18-year-old girls as their heroines; young talented female actors nudged into sideshow roles of sisters, sisters-in-law, and mothers even in the prime of their youth—male stars refuse to have mature women cast alongside them—this is the state of Malayalam cinema, once known for its off-beat, avant-garde and artistic impulses.
There are only male “super” and “mega” stars in Malayalam cinema. Women actors come and go, fast withered by age and wilted by gender constraints. It is into such a world that this year a woman actor returned to screen after 15 years, breaking barriers and destabilizing myths around the life cycle of Malayali heroines. Manju Warrier, who stole the hearts of Malayalis in the 1990s and left acting after marriage, as most women actors in Malayalam cinema do, made a dazzling comeback with How Old Are You, directed by Rosshan Andrrews….