Why I found most criticism of ANIMAL movie ‘unwarranted’

‘Animal’ has been perhaps the most “polarising” movie to have been released in a long time. While the movie turned out to be a humongous hit raking in close to 500 crores at the domestic box office, the criticism and very livid criticism kept happening simultaneously. I had not witnessed this level of “moral criticism” for any other big movie. While I do not agree with director Sandeep Vanga’s thoughts I didn’t like certain things in the film. But, overall, the movie was absolutely ‘dope stuff’ for me, and I do think that most of the criticism of the movie is “unwarranted”.

Basic Premise of the movie

Animal, the movie is about a character Ranvijay Singh who, during his childhood, craves the love of his father, but never gets it. In a strange portrayal of mental health issues, he grows up with extreme anger issues, wants to prove his love for his father, and can cross all limits for his family. His father Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor) too is a hot-headed person, who gives little attention to his son and shouts at his wife. While he keeps thinking about what has made his son like this — at one instance even tells his wife “Criminal paida kiya hai humne” — he fails to find that his son is just another version of him.

The movie travels through multiple levels of family feuds. Firstly, it is Ranvijay’s brother-in-law planning to kill Balbir and take over the empire, then it is about resolving age-old differences with another set of relatives and bringing them on their side, finally, the movie reaches its main plot. Balbir’s brother who was thrown out of the property, now his son Abraar (Bobby Deol) is up to the task of killing Ranvijay’s family, which paves the way for an epic and gruesome clash of the titans.

INSANE demand for Animal compels exhibitors to hold post-midnight and early  morning shows of Ranbir Kapoor-starrer across the country : Bollywood News  - Bollywood Hungama

Ranbir Kapoor delivered a stellar performance in his career-best act (Photo: Bollywood Hungama)

Decoding ‘Ranvijay Singh’ the character

Ranvijay Singh is a hot-headed person who is extremely ‘flawed’ in nature (and even cringe at times). He opens a machine gun inside his sister’s classroom and later even in his own bedroom. While he somehow portrays being the epitome of loyalty, he ends up sleeping with other women and even blatantly reveals this to his wife. While he has himself cheated on his wife, when Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna) threatens to sleep with another guy, Ranvijay says he won’t allow anyone to come near her. This shows his hypocritical thinking.

On the other hand, there is the emotional and vulnerable aspect of Ranvijay. While he is arguing back at his father every time, he deeply cares for him. The scene from his childhood, where Balbir reads Ranvijay’s message “In the next life, I will be your father and will show you how to be a good father, and then in the next life, you will again be my father” perfectly portrays his emotional state. The other scene where he asks his father to recall the day he shouted at him for just waiting for him, again shows the inner vulnerability of the character. His vulnerability is fully shown in the last scene, where Ranvijay cries for his father, in a way, showing that not everything can be won with violence.

Animal': Netizens go gaga over Ranbir Kapoor's deadly look, fans call it ' insane' | Hindi Movie News - Times of India

The very first poster of Animal gave a clear impression of how grossly violent the movie is going to be (Photo: Times of India)

What makes Animal Epic on screen

Animal, the movie is a compelling watch. If a movie, which is three-and-half hours long, keeps you hooked throughout and never bores you (except for some time post-interval), then it is a solid win for the screenplay writer. The way Sandeep Vanga has written this movie is nothing short of commendable. The other strong aspect is the movie’s editing. The way scenes have been cut, angles and frames have been used — a great example is the scene, where Bobby’s face comes just below Ranbir’s and takes over the screen — Animal can easily make it into the list of ‘best edited’ movies.

The film’s music and background score is again something, which Vanga can be very proud of. Not just the movie has a slate of chartbuster songs, but has a damn solid background score as well. I think Animal presented one of the best displays, of how one can use music according to the premise of the movie. Whether it was ‘Arjan Velly’ during an intense fight scene, ‘Duniya Jala Denge’ during the climactic fight between Ranvijay and Abrar or the fantastic BGM throughout the film. ‘Jamal Kuddoo’, again, a great pick has become an instant hit.

The powerhouse of the movie lies in its performances. This movie will perhaps be counted as Ranbir’s career-best act (maybe Barfi can come close), where he delivered a stellar act showcasing an extreme range of emotions. If it doesn’t seem too much, even a National Award should not be a surprise (if not for the controversy). Anil Kapoor has also given a power-packed performance as Balbir Singh. Many claimed that there was hardly anything for women in the film, but still, Rashmika Mandanna and Tripti Dimri did pretty fine jobs in their roles, though I found the former’s character a little too annoying. And, the surprise package…Bobby Deol. (Spoiler Alert) Without uttering a single word, giving such a strong performance with your eyes and facial expressions was just god-level stuff from him.

One more aspect, someone pointed out to me in Animal, was dialogues. Keeping in mind, Sandeep Vanga is traditionally not from a Hindi-speaking background, but the way dialogues have been written, you never for once feel, there is any friction or confusion in what the actors are saying. Of course, he would be having his team, but still making these dialogues is not a small feat.

Ranbir Kapoor shares exciting update about Animal sequel: 'Sandeep Reddy  Vanga has one or two scenes ready…' | Bollywood News - The Indian Express

Ranbir Kapoor and Bobby Deol in a still from the climax of the Animal movie (Photo: The Indian Express)

Debunking the major criticisms of Animal

Regarding the ‘extreme violence’ in Animal, I think this aspect can be the WEAKEST from the angle of criticism. From the very first poster to the teaser (small look of the ‘Arjan Velly’ sequence) and then to the action-packed trailer, at every single point, the movie gave only one impression that it is a “very grossly violent” movie and didn’t present any other impression. So, I doubt that anyone would have gone to the film thinking it to be a light-hearted comedy or something.

By this logic, movies of Quentin Tarantino should never have received so much acclaim. Those having a problem with the ‘pool’ of blood in Animal should have cried seeing, literally ‘fountains’ of blood coming out in movies like Kill Bill. Even the Gangs of Wasseypurr — which is one of the time great movies of Indian cinema — wouldn’t have qualified to the moral standards.

While concerning the criticism of the ‘misogyny’ shown in Animal, I think it is valid, but again, it is a movie. No one is asking you to follow the actions of the actors in your daily life. Ranvijay was a misogynist, had double standards of his self-proclaimed ideals, and treated his wife badly. And, all this was part of the movie’s story which is about men with an ‘animal’ type nature. I fail to understand what is there to get offended. Nowhere, the movie is asking people to become like Ranvijay’s character.

I doubt if anyone ever criticised the legendary Godfather on the allegations of misogyny. In the movie too, the lead actor Michael Corleone cheats his girlfriend and marries another lady, and never even discloses it to her. He mistreats her when she asks him to get away from his criminal empire and even gets her out of the house while keeping both children with himself. But, was there any #MichaelIsMisogynist kind of criticism? No, because that was a movie, and all these aspects were a part of the film to drive the story. The same argument can be applied to other epics like Raging Bull and Gangs of New York.

Such Disgrace': Netizens Outraged Over Ranbir Kapoor's 'Pad Change'  Dialogue For Rashmika Mandanna In Animal

Animal movie received severe criticism for portraying misogyny in a normalised manner (Photo: Free Press Journal)

Things I didn’t like in Animal

Well, of course, the misogyny part. There can be no denying that Ranvijay’s character is a misogynist and one can’t be liking this thing. He mistreats his wife badly, shouts at her, and even cheats her. Two scenes were especially irking for me. One, where Ranvijay hits Geetanjali with the strap of her blouse (and then hypocritically applies medicine on her) and the other, of course, where he asks Zoya (Tripti Dimri) to lick her shoes. Plus, some extremely cringeworthy dialogues. From that stupid ‘pelvis’ joke to Geetanjali falling for Ranvijay after one average conversation was too much. And that ‘Alpha Male’ theory, I wonder if there is anything worse left for me to hear.

But, an even more problematic thing was the way the makers behaved with the people having a critical opinion of the film. From trolling the critics personally on social media to even launching an attack against someone of Javed Akhtar’s stature — calling his art “a big false” for saying a very pertinent thing — is just unacceptable. Though, I like the conviction of Sandeep Vanga as he is quite vocal about what he stands for and what he portrays in his movies, if he starts personally attacking everyone, he might lose his credibility as a person before that of a filmmaker.

Ranbir Kapoor and Sandeep Reddy Vanga share a moment in this BTS pic from  Animal | Filmfare.com

Sandeep Reddy Vanga has always owned his problematic content with full conviction (Photo: Filmfare)


There are two particular scenes in the movie, which I neither appreciate nor find problematic, but find important enough to point out.

Firstly, the scene where Balbir is getting treated after being shot and all the workers of his ‘Swastik Steel’ company are distraught. Ranvijay comes and inspires them to stand up and rise. In that particular scene, Ranvijay keeps his hand almost like a Nazi salute and all his workers follow him. Now, it just can’t be a coincidence, that the symbol right behind Ranbir is ‘Swastik’, again a Nazi symbol (hooked cross). The scene marks a similarity with the time when Hitler revived Germany’s economy after the great depression.

Second, is the whole idea of Ranvijay Singh’s enemy brother being ‘Abrar Haq’. I mean, his whole family is a ‘Singh’ and just the enemy faction in his family goes to convert to Islam. The makers might say, he converted as he lived in Turkey. While, I don’t find this problematic, but certainly odd. Although, some criticism did come to this aspect, I wonder, how this sequence was not discussed enough with respect to the movie.

Keep minds open and let great cinema thrive

I would only say, a movie has to be judged on the aspects of filmmaking and not always from the self-proclaimed moral standards. What I may accept this that Animal is not a movie that is made for ‘everyone’ and nor can it be liked by everyone who watches it. The extreme violence and misogynist behaviour shown in the film might not work for everyone. But, even then I can’t simply rule out a movie which ticks almost all boxes from the filmmaking aspect; from acting, direction, screenplay, editing and BGM.

Why I chose to write this piece is the very fact of seeing so many movie critics simply bashing the movie for reasons I didn’t find palpable. Some so-called influencers also came up against the movie (I wonder, even before watching it).

The major argument they all presented is the movie is giving a ‘wrong message’ to society. Again, this is an absurd argument. If the movie’s message had decided the way society functions, I wonder if any envy would have remained after the telecast of Ramayana. The whole education and health system would have improved after 3 Idiots and Munnabhai MBBS and people would have voted out BJP after watching Jawan. And I don’t think, people would start beating their wives and killing people with axe after watching Animal. So this is a ridiculous statement.

All I would say is that we have to watch movies with an open mind and take cinema as a form of art. Yes, the entertainment and education quotient is also very important, but primarily it is an art form, and sometimes over-scrutinising things might just affect the charm of something as good as Animal.

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