Is It Really Love If You Can’t Slap Your Partner?

Asks Sandeep Reddy Vanga, director of a violent, misogynistic Indian film “Animal”.

joono
Pop Desified

--

Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Let me quote exactly what he said in a promotional interview after the release of Animal:

“If you can’t slap, touch your woman wherever you want, can’t kiss, can’t use cuss words, I don’t see emotion there. When you are deeply in love, deeply connected with a woman and vice versa, there’s a lot of honesty in it, and if you don’t have the physical demonstration, if you don’t have the liberty of slapping each other, then I don’t see anything there. So I feel, the women that are talking about that, have never been in love, they have probably never experienced it the right way, maybe they were thinking what is right and wrong, while they were expressing (themselves) but I can clearly see that they have never experienced it (love).”

Yes. In today’s day and age, this man has power and platform and is using it so carelessly, I am lost for words. Let me first debunk what he said. Anger is an emotion. Feeling anger is normal, like feeling any other emotion. BUT. For you to express it and direct it, towards your partner, in a way that is going to harm them, isn’t “love” in any way. Expressing it, letting it out in a way that is so destructive right from the beginning, can never actually lead to any constructive results. Because for us, normal people, that anger shouldn’t be the end of our relationship, rather an issue that needs to be dealt with, and once done, we can move on with life. But if we take Vanga’s route, we will land up being violent, toxic and hopefully single. So step one, don’t.

It is sad that he believes that to be honest about ourselves and our feelings in a relationship, we need to express it in ways that are so selfish and inconsiderate about the feelings of the person we claim to love. And he gets a platform to propagate this. It is sickening.

He has directed 3 of the most misogynistic films in mainstream media namely Arjun Reddy, Kabir Singh (Hindi remake of Arjun Reddy) and Animal. His recently released Animal has collected 600 crores and is one of the most talked about films this year. And the messages it propagates is baffling. Almost scary.

India is a country that is still a project in making in terms of a lot of women’s issues, one of them being periods. Menstrual knowledge is still lacking amongst a huge majority of our population and this film, has a dialogue that clearly states that his partner is “being too dramatic about changing pads four times a month”. IN OUR COUNTRY. It is painful to hear this. It will be painful for women who will have to hear modified versions of this dialogue that the men in their lives will use to shut them up when they want to talk about their periods. But it doesn’t stop there. The hero also cheats on her with another woman but tells her she can’t. It is wrong on so many levels that I think it has beaten the 70s and 80s films in thoughtlessness and misogyny.

People defending the film talk about how “such men exist in society and cinema is just a reflection of our social reality” but forget that this character is not just portrayed, but glamorized throughout the film. He is the hero of the film. One who never redeems himself and keeps using his daddy issues as an excuse for his violence and misogyny. Instead of addressing his issues, dealing with them and coming out as a better person. That is who the film wants us to idolize.

Animal’s predecessor in many ways, Kabir Singh had also received widespread criticism for perpetuating similar narratives. Among the people who defended the film, was Manoj Bajpayee, a critically acclaimed actor with a well-informed opinion, but I have questions for him. He talks about how creative work is increasingly being “burdened” by people’s moralities. Agreed. Such characters need to be written because they exist. But if your portrayal of a character increases domestic violence against women in a country extremely influenced by Bollywood, would that really be the “happy ending” your film was going for? He goes on to say, if a certain film is stopped from airing because a certain group of people do not agree with it, then many good films will miss making it to the big screen simply because it “offended” some or the other people. But that’s how it has been in India. So many films don’t get permission to even air because it “hurts people’s sentiments.” A film about a gay soldier in the Indian army was rejected by the defense ministry of our government. Because God forbid a soldier is gay. To Manoj Bajpayee I ask, if the film glorified mass murder, would you still have the same opinion? If the film glorified rape, would you still defend it? The problem is, hitting women is not yet an obvious “wrong” in people’s eyes, like rape and murder are. It is still an opinion, a subjective issue. Also, Sandeep Vanga himself mentions in his interview that a woman too can express her anger violently in the name of love. Why, I ask, has he made 3 films where only the man is violent towards his partner and never vice versa? I’ll tell you why. Because a film showing a woman beating a man won’t do the kind of business the other troupe does in India and he knows that. He wants the bag. Therefore, film is still business. Then the art that can be restrained by the ideals of business, can be burdened by people’s morality too.

Art should know no boundaries, but film makers hold a certain responsibility towards society, the same way they hold certain responsibility towards themselves and the production crew to earn profits with their films.

Releasing an openly violent, misogynistic film in mainstream media for every layman to watch, without specifying anywhere that every actor in the film had to excessively suppress their own moralities while playing their role, that the film portrays what’s wrong with society, that the issues shown with the “hero” are to be dealt with in therapy, that the hero in the film actually equates to a villain in society, is irresponsible and shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of the power they hold and therein the accountability that comes with it.

It is easy to say “oh it’s the triggered feminists again” but when you break down the words triggered, which simply means feeling upset seeing something because of their past, and feminist means mostly women. It is a bunch of women who have suffered the impact of your “hero” and his problematic behaviour that you have glorified and justified for the world to consume and imitate.

--

--

joono
Pop Desified

With everything going on in my mind, writing is the only way to keep track of it ^^