Ranbir Kapoor and Bobby Deol’s Animal is the talk of the town and the zestful flavor of social media. Everybody is either raving about the film or taking up morchas against it. Sumita Chakraborty, Editor-in-chief, TheGlitz finds out whether Animal has become the infamous champion of dark New Age cinema and a poor excuse for toxic masculinity?
The Start Of New Age Cinema
Cut to 2022: …It was indeed a brave new world that limped its way back after the dreaded pandemic and the global lockdown. With theatres closing down for more than a year and OTT platforms emerging as the supreme entertainment source, everything went topsy-turvy – from audience choices to box office numbers. So no wonder, the severest affected during that time was the glitzy world of cinema.
The old order changeth, yielding place to new, said the great bard of Stratford Upon Avon, a long time ago. True enough, during the lockdown, the audience that was weaned on masala films, discovered that there was a more realistic New Age cinema beckoning and so moved to the seamless and depthless world of the OTT to gorge on world cinema.
From then on, eclectic content was the king. Dark, deep and decadent content that could break, make, mar or redefine society became the flavour of the cinematic world. To be fair, Bollywood which also changed with the times, came up with an intriguing spy verse that captivated the audience too. SRK’s Pathaan and Jawaan did phenomenally well. Salman Khan’s Tiger 3 got a lot of love from the audience. But then came Animal…
The Animal Story
One can say that Animal changed the face of Bollywood. This Ranbir Kapoor starrer which is a huge runaway blockbuster hit, catapulted cinema from feel-good cinema into a dark netherworld of violence and gore. The audience either loved the film or abhorred it… nothing in between. Netizens made every scene in the film memorable by making viral reels of it. On the other hand, social activists took up cudgels and morchas against it for portraying women in a bad light. But that didn’t matter – the box office collection continued to grow each day.
Netizens hailed it as a landmark film. Munnai Bhai MBBS’s Circuit Arshad Warsi insisted that Animal is a masterpiece. Alia Bhatt heralded her husband Ranbir Kapoor as the biggest superstar of 2023 despite the blockbusters SRK and Salman Khan have given. Bobby Deol who had a role of 13 minutes in the film as the dynamic Abrar, suddenly found himself being heralded as Lord Bobby, the object of Internet obsession. His entry song Jamal Kodu has become so viral that it became the ‘national anthem’ of social media reels and memes. Bobby whose career was almost obliterated before this film, found himself back in the spotlight. And, how!
Ask him about this and Bobby Deol, a little overwhelmed with the national attention, wipes a tear of happiness. He avers with a laugh though… that Prakash Kaur, his mom told him, ‘Aisi film mat kiya kar tu, mujhse nahi dekha jaata‘ (Don’t do such films. I can’t see this).” But then she too was overwhelmed by the phone calls she was swamped with from people praising Bobby to the skies. Sister Esha Deol called Bobby’s performance “smashing”. Bobby had arrived, and, how!
However, on the flip side, Animal also garnered a humungous lot of criticism because of its violent, gore-replete, misogynist content. Women activists took umbrage to the way women have been treated in the film – more so about objectionable scenes like the one where the hero aka Ranbir asks his wife to prove her love by licking his shoes. No wonder, Ranbir is being touted as the torchbearer for promoting toxic masculinity.
Thanks to the OTT, one has become conditioned to very dark and often disturbing content. Agree or not, the cinematic need of the time has become edgy, over-the-top, violent content. But Animal which runs 3 hours 30 minutes, has gone beyond that and more. There is so much violence, blood and offensive scenes that at times one feels that the director Sandeep Reddy Vanga has taken Animal way ahead of his earlier film Kabir Singh which again was a poster film for misogynism.
Agreed, it is time for Indian cinema to explore untold content and take the less-trodden path. Taking the safe route is anyway passe. But has Bollywood veered treacherously onto an unknown thorny path? Is Animal the start of dark, disturbing films?
….We may believe that it’s a new cinematic brave world with new-age mindsets. But does that give producers and directors a license to unleash a wave of dark and disturbing films replete with toxicity and misogynism? Why can’t Bollywood delve and dive into the complex yet super interesting world of New Age cinema where fearless filmmakers dare to tread into unknown terrains instead of unleashing an unnecessary bloodbath that can change mindsets and affect people? Let’s give that a thought!