Sandeep Reddy Vanga's 'Animal': Male-Centric Narratives - Artistic Freedom or a Harmful Portrayal?

Critiquing 'Animal': Exploring the Backlash Against Sandeep Reddy Vanga's Latest Venture into Male-Centric Narratives
Ranbir Kapoor
Ranbir Kapoor

Ever since the release of Sandeep Reddy Vanga's Ranbir Kapoor-starrer 'Animal,' many film personalities across the country have congratulated the film crew via official statements, Twitter posts, and various other platforms. Trisha, also a part of Sandeep's next film 'Spirit,' joined in praising 'Animal' as a 'cult.' However, her comments sparked controversy: "Mansoor Ali Khan's offensive speech is wrong, but 'Animal' is no less. How can Trisha appreciate this?" Realizing her mistake, Trisha promptly deleted the story.

Ranbir Kapoor
Ranbir Kapoor

What does 'Animal' convey? Rannvijay Singh, growing up without proper care from his father, sets a bad example due to his ego, living as an 'alpha male' who does as he pleases. The film unfolds as he seeks to win his father's love by destroying his enemies, who tried to assassinate him. The story revolves around the consequences of the violent path he chooses, disregarding his wife and family.

Similar issues arose with the director's previous film, 'Arjun Reddy,' featuring forced love scenes and complex relationships. 'Animal,' essentially a big-budget gangster film, focuses on the hero's actions driven by his affection for his father rather than love.

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The critical flaw with 'Animal' lies in its male-centric nature. All male characters are portrayed as 'Animals,' while women are treated as possessions, appearing briefly for love, sex, fights, and assistance. A distasteful villain sexually assaults his third wife immediately after their wedding, seemingly designed as a shocking scene. Ranbir's character deals with health issues, leading to arguments with his wife, reinforcing a problematic perspective, that too by comparing the menstrual pain of women with his frequent diaper changes due to other ailments.

Leaving aside women's issues, the film's central theme is father-son affection. However, the handling of this theme needs scrutiny as well. The hero scolds his wife, saying, "After all, he's my dad. Don't speak ill of him." A mature son should openly discuss and explain if his father is wrong, but the film portrays blind acceptance as heroic.

Some argue that 'Animal' should be viewed simply as cinema without deep analysis. However, there's a growing need to examine films politically, considering the potential influence on societal ideas. An example is the scrutiny received by Kamal Haasan's yesteryear film 'Sakalakala Vallavan' from netizens today.

Another perspective is the director's visualization of men in his created world. The film is titled 'Animal,' indicating the creative freedom of the director; however, his approach to the theme should be subjected to criticism and discussion.

For instance, if a film opposes reservation, it cannot merely be considered the director's opinion or creative freedom; it should be criticized for potentially setting a harmful precedent. Similarly, films like 'Animal,' glorifying male-centric characters with 'toxic' traits who live without respect for others, can be deemed extremely dangerous, especially at a time when crimes against women are escalating. Directors like Sandeep Reddy Vanga, repeatedly portraying 'this is only a man's world,' deserve condemnation.

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(This copy was originally written in Tamil by R Srinivasan and appeared in Ananda Vikatan Magazine.)


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