Bollywood’s latest offering, ‘Animal,’ directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, has stirred a storm of controversy with its portrayal of female characters. Despite Vanga’s assertion of crafting fierce and bold women in his films, the narrative in ‘Animal’ paints a starkly different picture.
The film, starring Ranbir Kapoor as Ranvijay and Rashmika Mandanna as Geetanjali, is rife with instances of casual sexism and docile female characters, overshadowed by overtly problematic male behavior. This is particularly evident in scenes where Ranvijay’s character manipulates Geetanjali into marriage, glorifying toxic macho traits and reducing her role to fulfilling domestic and reproductive duties.
The movie goes beyond just portraying a problematic relationship; it indulges in romanticizing violence and abusive dynamics. In one unsettling scene, Ranbir’s character physically abuses Rashmika’s character with a bra hook, an act later trivialized by a superficial gesture of applying ice on her bruises. This normalization of violence in the name of love is deeply troubling and reflects a disturbing acceptance of subjugation in relationships.
Other female characters in the film, including Ranbir’s mother and elder sister, are portrayed as victims of a patriarchal power system, suffering in silence and enabling the male protagonist’s destructive behavior. Additionally, the film includes a graphic portrayal of marital rape, further contributing to its misogynistic narrative.
The positive off-screen camaraderie between the actresses, as noted by supporting actress Triptii Dimri, does not compensate for the on-screen depiction of women as submissive and objectified. This contrast sharply with the box office success of the film, highlighting a disconcerting disconnect between the film’s commercial success and its social impact.
‘Animal’ thus emerges as a glaring example of how mainstream Bollywood cinema can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and normalize misogyny. As an influential medium, cinema has the power to shape societal attitudes, and films like ‘Animal’ underscore the urgent need for more responsible storytelling that uplifts rather than demeans women.