Malayalam actress Parvathy Thiruvothu’s social media profile is unlike that of most mainstream actors. Her posts are issue-based, and mostly women-centric, and she describes herself as “actor-feminist-shape-shifter” in her bio. When she was invited as a speaker to the Outlook Speakout event, she made it clear that she wouldn’t be speaking just as an actor, but as a core member of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), a first-of-its kind organisation formed after the infamous actress assault case in Kerala. A two-time winner of Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for Ennu Ninte Moideen and Take Off, Parvathy plays a critical role in building a new narrative in Malayalam cinema. She won the Best Actor Award (Female) at the 48th International Film Festival of India and also the National Film Award–Special Mention for her role in Take Off. She made her Bollywood debut with Qarib Qarib Singlle. Unafraid of losing her popularity while joining public campaigns, she believes her influence should be a catalyst for social change.
During a panel discussion at Outlook Speakout, she said she considers cinema her driving force and believes it is a tool for change. We need to speed up the pace of changing the content of films, she said, and stressed that the cinema workspace should be free from gender discrimination. “It is important to set an example,” she said. On the sidelines of the event, she said, “It’s not about empowering women. There are men, women and transgender people. Every aspect of gender is a spectrum. Sexuality too is a spectrum. We need to stop thinking in binaries…. I’ve been an actor since I was 17. The urge to tell stories has driven my career and it helps me to judge people less.”
For Parvathy, the challenge was to overcome the fear of fear. “We only fear what we don’t understand and I hate to be scared. That is why I keep investigating,” she said.