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Spectacles of masculine super-heroism: mapping the early superstardom of ‘Jayan’ in Malayalam cinema

Faculty Advisor




superheroes, superstardom, masculinity, cinema

Abstract (summary)

Krishnan Nair, popularly known by his screen name Jayan, is often hailed as the first-ever “superstar” actor in Malayalam cinema. The metamorphosis of Jayan’s cinematic stardom signifies the masculine prototype with which Indian film stars attain cultural dominance by aestheticizing their corporeal self. This article approaches the earlier superstardom in Malayalam cinema by deciphering the centrality of Jayan as a Superman-superstar figure. It argues that the heroic screen image, dialogue delivery, stylized stunts, and trendsetting costumes introduced by Jayan in the 1970s–1980s established a new reception of the masculine body that glorified the semiotics of the “Superman.” Using the spectator–spectacle discourse on superstardom, this article examines how different shades of superstardom, especially its posthumous restructuring and reproduction, affect the fate of superheroes in regional cinemas.

Publication Information

Raj, S. J. (2023). Spectacles of masculine super-heroism: Mapping the early superstardom of ‘Jayan’ in Malayalam cinema. Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities 1–26.


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