Gendering stardom: Why Manju Warrier is not equal to Mohanlal
Gender became, and still remains the focus of heated debate in Malayalam film industry (Mollywood: the film industry of Kerala, India) post the actor assault case in February 2017. The contemporaneity of the issue leads to this research paper, which is an exploration of the role played by gender in shaping stardom in a regional film industry such as the Malayalam industry. Stardom is analyzed by choosing the personas of Manju Warrier (signifying the female superstar) and Mohanlal (representative of the male superstar). The paper traces the reasons, both cinematic and pragmatic, to explore how the actors’ persona, political stances, characters enacted, and critical reception at theatres that point towards the creation of a gendered stardom rather than an objective renown and fame that they enjoy in the present cultural scenario. The scope of the research lies in exploring how gender is not a passive, but an active participant in the mental creation of icons in spectators. The findings are also portentous in understanding how the spectator’s psyche is unconsciously constructed to imbibe gender as a means of ‘Othering’.