Shortly after we covered author/journalist Shobhaa De's perspective on Sandeep Reddy Vanga's film Animal, responses from National Award-winning lyricist and screenwriter Swanand Kirkire have surfaced. His remarks convey apprehension and unease regarding the trajectory of mainstream Indian cinema and its portrayal of women.
As the Ranbir Kapoor-Rashmika Mandanna-starrer continues its successful run, with Day 3 already crossing the Rs. 200 crore mark at the domestic box office, the graphic visuals portraying gore and violence have sparked controversy among those who see cinema as a collective medium capable of influencing society and shaping culture.
In a series of tweets, Kirkire conveyed his discomfort after watching the film and expressed his belief that, in his opinion, the movie represents a step backward.
In his initial tweet, he cited films and their directors who have portrayed women with high regard and respect. His examples encompassed works such as Mehboob Khan’s Aurat, Guru Dutt’s Saheb Biwi aur Ghulam, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anupama, Shyam Benegal’s Ankur and Bhumika, Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala, Sudhir Mishra’s Main Zinda Hoon, Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish, Vikas Behl’s Queen and Shoojit Sarkar’s Piku.
He also pointed out specific audience members during the screening he attended, particularly women who were observed applauding scenes where Rashmika Mandanna, portraying Geetanjali in the film, was being subjected to gaslighting, belittlement, and ridicule by her on-screen husband, played by Ranbir.
In his translated tweets from Hindi, he shares, “After watching the movie Animal, I really felt pity for the women of today’s generation. Now, a new man has been prepared for you, who is more scary, who does not respect you that much and who aims to subdue you, suppress you and feels proud of himself. When you, the girls of today’s generation, were sitting in that cinema hall and applauding Rashmika, I in my mind paid tribute to every idea of equality. I have come home desperate, dejected, and weak.”
Continuing his criticism of the film, Kirkire highlights a scene where Ranbir ridicules the concept of vulnerable men. In this particular moment, Ranbir's character conveys to Geetanjali that men who struggle to assert their masculinity resort to speaking poetically about bringing the moon and stars for their women. Kirkire asks, “I am a poet! I do poetry to live. Is there a place for me? A film is making a lot of money, and the glorious history of Indian cinema is being embarrassed. In my understanding, this film will determine the future of Indian cinema afresh, in a different, terrible, and dangerous direction.”
The film explores the complex relationship between a wealthy father and his immature son, against the backdrop of vengeance and violence. Alongside Ranbir and Rashmika, the movie includes an ensemble cast featuring Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Tripti Dimri, Charu Shankar, Saloni Batra, Anshul Chauhan, Siddhant Karnick, Shakti Kapoor, Suresh Oberoi and Prem Chopra.