We continue with some of the best female lead characterizations of the millennium, in no particular order
By Mani Prabhu
Played by: Tabu
Film: Kandukondein Kandukondein Year: 2001
Some characterizations, even with all their flaws, stay in your heart forever. Rajeev Menon’s Sowmya is one such unique personality, who tends to place her family’s welfare and interests above her own. But that’s just one facet of her character, which usually tends to overpower her other traits. In fact, Sowmya is intense,ambitious and amiable; someone who chooses to hide it all under a cloak of apparent indifference and cold-heartedness, considering herself a jinxed woman. Although possessing an exceptional clarity of judgment and strength of understanding, she denies herself a chance at romance, and hesitates at every step in acknowledging the love of her admirer, citing her endless responsibilities as an excuse. Contrasting her character sharply with that of her younger sister, Tabu plays Sowmya with such effortless ease, that seemingly minute things appear so real. Making us relate with Sowmya’s journey towards accepting her right to her own love and happiness is Rajiv Menon’s success.
Played by: Keerthana
Film: Kannathil Muthamittaal Year: 2002
Probably the only child character making it to the list, Amudha is an absolute gem from the master, Mani Ratnam. Amudha is in essence an oxymoron; an angel and a little monster at the same time, constantly in the habit of creating harmless havoc, but so adorably charming that it takes a lot to be mad at her for long. On her ninth birthday, when she learns from her parents that she is adopted, she sets out to find her real mother to the war-zone of Sri Lanka. Unable to come to terms with the truth that she was abandoned at birth, little Amudha is torn between her obsessive need to reconnect with her birth mother and the unconditional concern of her adoptive parents. Played with a surreal charm and a remarkable degree of restraint by Keerthana, Amudha’s shock, angst, and preoccupation easily catches us off-guard. The masterstroke of her characterization is probably the sequence where she meets her biological mother. With millions of questions gnawing at her head, as Amudha reads out her scrap book passionately, the range of emotions Keerthana brings alive on-screen has to be seen to be believed!
Played by: Trisha Krishnan
Film: Vinnaithandi Varuvaayaa
To write a lovable yet intense, moody and credibly capricious character is no mean feat. Gautham Vasudev Menon nails it in style with the characterization of Jessie, a bold and independent girl who turns out to be more complex than what she projects in the outside. Hailing from a conservative Malayali Christian family from Kerala, Jessie is more shocked than excited, when she finds out that the boy down-stairs is irreversibly smitten on her. While Jessie seems firm, polite and ground, Karthik is more romantically reckless. While Jessie is someone who pauses and listens to reason, Karthik is more of an impulsive lover. They decide to be ‘friends’ for the moment, but all it takes for Jessie to realize the lost cause is a train journey. Is the oscillating character of Jessie, Gautham’s nod to the quintessential modern woman, who oxymoronically finds herself in a situation, where she derives her autonomy from her close bonds? And when fate beckons her to take a decision that would invariably result in severing of all relations that she had held dear for life, would she endure, suffering silently or would she resist? Trisha breezes through the role of Jessie, a girl who wants something but somehow can’t bring herself to accept it, with her own magnetic charm and spontaneity.
Played by: Jyothika
Very rarely do we get to see a real woman in all flesh and blood, complete with all her inflexibility and insecurities, in celluloid! Radhamohan’s Archana is one such multi-dimensional character, whom we are likely to bump into any moment in our busy lives. When Karthik first chances upon Archana in the streets, it’s literally admiration at first sight, as he sees her taking on a man for bashing his wife. It’s only later does he learn that Archana, who has an aversion for romance after her parent’s marriage collapsed, is actually deaf-mute. A lesser writer might have tapped the character for some juicy melodrama, resorting to some heavy duty emotional manipulation. But Mohan presents Archana as a normal young woman with a promising job, who just happens to have a disability. But she is not flawless. Her obstinate nature and her troublesome ‘commitment’ issues make her a tough candidate to fall in love with. Jyothika playing Archana, makes brilliant use of her astonishingly expressive eyes and myriad expressions to make an indelible impression. Without the need for dialogues, she emphatically portrays Archana’s evolution from a ever-annoyed, stubborn girl into someone who soaks up to looking past her apparent insecurities.
Played by: Nandita Das
Film: Azhagi Year: 2002
As the ill-fated roadside laborer who resigns to her harsh destiny, Nandita Das is in her elements in the role of Dhanalakshmi. The sensitivity with which Dhanam’s character has been portrayed, speaks about the writing potential of Thankar Bachchan, who incidentally created the character first for his novel ‘Kalvettu’. Dhanam develops an affection for her classmate Shanmugham in her adolescence, but circumstances force her to get married to someone else. Several years later, the married Shanmugham spots Dhanam living a life of poverty on the platforms with her son, after losing her husband to an illness. Dhanam suffers in silence in Shanmugam’s place, as past memories generate a complex tension between the two, despite their repeated attempts to move on. The comfort, with which Nandita fits into the mould of the subdued yet determined Dhanam, is just amazing.