K G George’s celebrated movie Aadaaminte Vaariyellu (Adam’s Rib, 1984) presented, perhaps for the first time in Malayalam cinema, a comprehensive and clinical discussion of gender inequality in our overwhelmingly patriarchal society.
The film has three female protagonists who represent three different social classes. Alice, played by Srividya is a rich, glamorous and powerful lady. She is portrayed as immoral, even using her body to further the business interests of her husband Mammachan (played by Bharat Gopi). Alice isn’t sure if her husband indeed is the father of their children. She has other affairs too, drinks habitually, is indifferent to her children—thus violates the codes of conservative morality. In short, she is the ideal candidate for individual liberation, one would imagine. But Alice ends up committing suicide. Death is her only form of liberation.
Vasanthi, the second character, (played by Suhasini) represents the struggling and ordinary middleclass. She has a job and is the only earning member of the family. She is a hardworking woman who gives her best to her home. She is saddled with a useless and abusive drunkard husband and a demanding mother-in-law. Caught between the pressures of office work, back-breaking household chores as well as the emotional and physical bullying, Vasanthi suffers a nervous breakdown and ends up in the lunatic asylum. Her liberation is realised through madness.