‘Films Like ‘Animal’ Legitimise Misogyny, Normalise Violence’


Kashu Shubhamoorty, a Delhi-based lawyer, says the box office success of a film like Animal reflects the current state of our society

When I am asked about how I feel about movies such as Animal, I think of the increasing violence prevailing in our society, in India as well as in other countries. I heard someone say that Animal is the movie of the century! It is indeed painful that some people find gory violence and brazen sexism entertaining. This trend has been going on since quite some time, and we have reached a stage where such movies actually become runaway success.

Cinema such as Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal encourages and establishes sexual violence against women as legitimate, whereby men treat women of any age as a commodity and do not feel guilty in assaulting even a child. I remember, in an interview, famous social activist, late Kamla Bhasin, said that some of the Bollywood songs present women as a commodity. This pattern has become more apparent in movies like Animal where a woman is explicitly told that she is liked because she can bear better children. Even more surprising thing is that the woman in question here is shown to find this an attractive proposal!

In another scene, when a female character is asked to lick the shoes of the male protagonist to show her love towards him. Such misogyny also manifest in many ways in real life, and thereby lead men to expect similar, demeaning gestures from women.

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A Bobo doll experiment was conducted way back in 1961 when the world was very different. Through this experimental project, the impact of violence was studied and it was found that it can make drastic changes in the behaviour of people. In the experiment it was seen that the impact of aggressive behaviour stays as a long-term phenomenon on children.

With this example we can understand what the impact of films like Animal or Salaar would make on the behaviour of people, especially men. The study is not only applicable to children, but also applies to adults. Now, with the advent of glorified violence, which is shown in many video games, and exposure to aggressive and hyper-masculine media/movies, the impact can become much more devastating.

Dr Hyacinth Byron-Cox studied that Bandura’s Bobo Doll experiments served to successively indicate that aggression can be learned through observational means, and the behaviour observed is not only confined to real-life scenarios, but, extends to include violence exhibited anywhere in various conditions.

That a film like Animal has become mainstream cinema also reflects the current state of our society. The commercial, box office driven film industry will make only that kind of cinema which sells; they will also make cinema that is sponsored, so the basic criterion is profit.

A positive fact is that some of the recent propaganda films have failed. They have not done well commercially – which is an indicator that large sections of people cannot be totally swayed by propaganda. However, this still makes me think — why should a movie contain so much violence, while there is no meaningful content, story, script or plot, worth its name?

(The narrator is an alumna of ILS Law College, Pune, and the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She has been working in the legal field since the last 15 years)

As told to Amit Sengupta

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