The queen holds the reign: Parvathy Thiruvothu’s 15-year career is crash course in good cinema

Following her first few Malayalam films, the actor took a hiatus to focus on Tamil and Kannada cinema before returning for a standout role as a Tamil migrant in Lijo Jose Pellissery’s City of God.

Published: 11th April 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th April 2021 05:31 PM   |  A+A-

Parvathy Thiruvothu

Parvathy Thiruvothu (Photo | Parvathy Thiruvothu Instagram)

Express News Service

Panimalar in Maryan (2013)—often described as ‘Roja, but with fishermen’—is a woman forlorn in the absence of Dhanush’s character, Maryan.

Oozing old-world sensuality and charm reminiscent of yesteryear icons such as Sharada and Waheeda Rahman, Panimalar—played by Parvathy Thiruvothu—is the symbol of love and its strength to move mountains.

An actor who believes, “cinema is an opportunity for her to be a good person”, Thiruvothu’s 15-year career so far and her choice of films reiterates this statement. It shows her evolution not just as an actor, but as an individual as well. Careful about the films she takes on, the actor is known to prioritise the film’s core politics and whether or not she agrees with it. This is a welcome departure from actors who often worry that standing up for the right reasons could cost them opportunities.

Following her first few Malayalam films, the actor took a hiatus to focus on Tamil and Kannada cinema before returning for a standout role as a Tamil migrant in Lijo Jose Pellissery’s City of God.

It’s perhaps the strength of this performance; along with that of her Tamil debut Poo (2008), which led to further opportunities. Two years after Maryan, she would do another poignant love story—this time in Malayalam—Ennu Ninte Moideen. Inspired by a real-life story, it is a film that explores longing and separation, and yet, we see a different Thiruvothu here. As Kanchanamala, when she meets Moideen after a 10-year-long wait, it is a marked departure in the manner she meets Maryan. The emotion is the same, but the subtleties differentiate the two. In fact, such was the conviction in her performance that it is said to have won the seal of approval from the real Kanchanamala.

Then came Charlie—a contemporary film about two carefree protagonists, Charlie (Dulquer Salmaan) and Tessa (Thiruvothu). Quirky, independent, adventure-seeking, Thiruvothu’s character here is that rare woman with traits both men and women can relate to. While Tessa hopes “to live a life with no plans”, the actor behind her shows the right mix of optimism and eccentricity to avoid making her seem like a manic pixie dream girl usually seen in South Indian cinema. Thiruvothu impressed audiences again with Take Off (2017), which was followed closely by another impressive outing in Koode (2018). Both films saw her playing relatively subdued, world-weary characters.

A bigger challenge came in the form of an acid attack survivor in Uyare (2019). Drawing from stories of countless acid attack survivors, Thiruvothu played Pallavi, a bold, confident woman who goes through hell and back, on account of her needy, possessive boyfriend, Govind (played by Asif Ali). Arguably her most layered and hard-hitting performance yet, the actor delivers maximum impact without ever resorting to melodrama. The emotional beats register in all the right ways and never once overstay their welcome. The scene where Pallavi sees her disfigured face for the first time leaves you a teary mess. We are shocked and angered, but eventually, her extraordinary endurance serves to inspire us.

Come 2021, and the films Thiruvothu has lined up hint that this could be her best year yet. Three Malayalam releases (Varthamanam, Aanum Pennum, Aarkkariyaam) have come out during the last month. There’s plenty on the way, including Navarasa, a Netflix original anthology spearheaded by Mani Ratnam, and Puzhu, in which she will collaborate with Mammootty for the first time. The latter development is significant as it has quelled any negative reports that after the Kasaba controversy (she set an example by calling out the misogyny in the Mammootty-starrer released in 2016), it may be a challenge for her to find work in Malayalam. There is also talk that she may be turning director sooner than anticipated. It’s a good time to be a Parvathy Thiruvothu fan.


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