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Animal: Beyond misogyny and ‘artistic voice' there’s an audience that’s hooting for wrong things and that’s equally to be blamed

It is not just a filmmaker who must be questioned, but also the collective consciousness of a packed cinema hall that laughs at a man measuring a woman’s pelvis and another raping one. 

Animal: Beyond misogyny and ‘artistic voice' there’s an audience that’s hooting for wrong things and that’s equally to be blamed
Animal Still

Last Updated: 03.26 PM, Dec 06, 2023


“But, it’s just a film yaa, it’s not supposed to be a teacher,” read a comment under one of the countless posts around and about Ranbir Kapoor starrer Animal on Instagram. Agreed. But what about the times we were so influenced by three boys taking that Goa trip that we haven’t stopped fantasizing about one with our friends even two decades later? Animal is the talk of the town and beyond being supremely misogynistic, an ego massage for a filmmaker who thinks he is superior to everyone who wants to say anything against his problematic gaze towards women, it is a movie that is being praised by a section of audience who feel represented. And that is where the real problem lies. 

As for what is on screen, Animal is a badly made film that loses the very grip that it feels is its strength in the first hour itself, never to get it back. Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s writing finds peace in just going against everyone who called Kabir Singh/Arjun Reddy problematic. The filmmaker is hell-bent on showing you how he has evolved when he lets Geetanjali (Rashmika) slap Vijay (Ranbir) and serve it to you as Preeti’s (Kabir Singh) redemption. Whereas a few scenes ago he makes her listen to the recording of her moaning when they first had sex to calm her down. For real! 

That is how steep and shallow Animal’s writing is. It wants you to laugh at a man measuring a woman’s pelvis saying she is in good shape to conceive healthy kids, proclaim alpha men as the best breed there is, and debase your wife by talking about her sanitary pads and puberty while your 'Bros' are around laughing at her. In short, acts like she has agency but never really gives her one. A person in the audience chuckled at this point, and a few more followed him. Another clapped at Vijay telling a female character to lick his shoes and the cheer that an infidel intimate scene churned out. Yes, it is a grey character but that does not give a filmmaker a free pass to glorify him. Counting problems in Vanga’s movie is easier than listing down good things. Because just like respect for sanity, morals, and logic, good things are rare. 

What is scarier about Animal is that it races to earn 500 crore in the global market. There’s an audience sampling this movie. A pool that feels represented, and a social media manager to our Prime Minister Narendra Modi who thinks it is cool to have Arjan Vailly play in the background of a reel that resembles the Animal trailer with the PM in it. Keeping the politics aside, what does this signify exactly? Do we even understand the lyrics of a song that plays with a Prime Minister’s face attached to it? 

That is the influence that makes some of us look beyond the “but it’s just a film yaa” syndrome. It’s not just a film if you mention ‘Atma Nirbharta’, ‘Made In India’, and have a villain named Abrar Haque, who is raping his wives and an audience in giggling. Women cannot be the prop of your world and only serve you? Snatching their agency and acting like they have it intact and cracking jokes at the cost of their bodies and existence is exactly the misogyny many of us have been talking about. 

SS Rajamouli compared Sandeep Reddy Vanga to Ram Gopal Varma. The latter’s work is unparalleled and one that can serve as an antidote to the content Vanga serves. The PR-driven statements hold nothing but a few crores that they will attract. Make Animal, make that Park you teased, make a realm out of it, and add as many of those last unnecessary shots for your critics, but be aware that saturation comes to us all. The loyalists who come against Barbie or Lipstick Under My Burkha will be the ones hailing you, but they indeed aren’t the right company. 

The lawless land in which this movie exists, the fantasy world of guns and men measuring their manhood with them is bizarre and one to scrap. But if that hooting continues, if we as an audience don’t evolve, if we don’t demand responsible cinema, if we don’t ask the consequences of these stories, the future isn’t as glorious as we envision. Cinema influences lives in more than one way. This is exactly the influence one must be scared about.

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