The Indian film industry has recently seen the release of the movie “Animal,” starring actors Ranbir Kapoor, Rashmika Mandanna, Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol, and Tripti Dimri, among others. The movie has opened to a huge box office collection and rave reviews from common filmgoers and movie critics alike for its acting, action sequences, and its fresh and original music album. It has proved that the movie theatre experience can never be topped by the OTTs.
However, the movie has managed to stir a pot of discontentment with the character of the protagonist (portrayed by Ranbir Kapoor). Movies, more often than not, create a hyperrealistic world for the viewers. Indian moviegoers are mostly in the millennial and Gen-Z eras, their minds being young and impressionable. This sort of violent portrayal, which glorifies extreme violence, domestic abuse, cheating, and drug abuse, among so many, may lead the viewer to believe that it’s okay to indulge in this behaviour, just because their favourite actor is also doing it or because their favourite movie promotes it as being fine.
A point of view comes into the picture, being the constitutional and fundamental right of freedom of expression. Critics of the above viewpoint insist that such accusations violate the basic right to express. It is also claimed that art, being objective, reserves the right to any and every kind of expression and portrayal. Nevertheless, it must be kept in mind that an excess of everything leads to adverse consequences.
This article talks about Animal only because it has been the most recent release, but the scope is not limited to merely the movie. The trend of promoting a “unique” lifestyle has been around for many years, from movies like Darr, which romanticised stalking and obsession, and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, which promoted that it’s okay to cheat on your spouse instead of asking for a divorce, to the more recent epitome of toxic masculinity, Kabir Singh, which has inspired many an “alpha” male to objectify and treat women as their personal properties.
People forget that, at the end of the day, actors who portray characters in these movies are still humans and are only performing what has been asked of them, making it easier for them to step out of the role and return to their normal lives. It is the watcher who gets caught in the mystical, seemingly ideal world, often confusing it for reality, which leads to inappropriate actions on their part, the most recent being the blatant sexualizing of actress Tripti Dimri for her portrayal of Zoya in the movie. Dimri is a fantastic actress, known for her magnificent performances in Laila Majnu, Bulbul, Qala, etc. However, her acting chops were only noticed when she performed intimate scenes in the movie.
That being said, it is also important for such films to be made. These films, for a short while, transport you to another dimension, providing another perspective of what the world might be and also making the viewer appreciate reality more. Films of these kinds give an example of what should not be. So, the question arises: are such movies good or bad?
The answer is that it depends. It depends solely on the choice of the viewer and what kind of art they choose to see. People have been complaining that Sam Bahadur, starring Vicky Kaushal, Sanya Malhotra, and Fatima Sana Sheikh, which was released alongside Animal, has not been receiving the same kind of adulation as its counterpart. Yet there’s nothing that has been done. The same people are buying tickets for Animal “to see what the publicity is all about.”. Filmmakers make films they believe the viewer wants to see. As long as people choose one kind of cinema over another, movies of the former kind will keep getting made. Now it’s up to the Indian viewer to decide what kind of cinema should come into the limelight.