Animal Movie: Legitimizing Subjugation of Women and Hyper-Masculinity in the Guise of Creativity
by Dolan Samanta

The film “Animal,” directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga and featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Rashmika Mandana, released on December 1, 2023. With a staggering budget exceeding 100 crores and an extensive advertising campaign, the movie quickly became a focal point of discussions and debates. It has found its way into the spotlight, dominating reels and garnering attention reflected in its box office numbers. Sandeep Reddy Vanga, infamous for previous works like “Arjun Reddy” and “Kabir Singh,” which celebrated toxic masculinity and defended physical violence in intimate relationships, now presents an even more regressive venture. The film unabashedly glorifies hyper-masculinity, dismisses the principles of law and order, and actively advocates for the use of violence as a means to assert one’s beliefs.

This cinematic narrative is not merely entertainment; it serves as a reflection of contemporary polity. Mirroring and, in turn, legitimizing the ideas propagated by the current ruling regime, the movie becomes symptomatic of the times we live in. As we unravel the layers, it becomes apparent that “Animal” is not merely a reel narrative but a nuanced exploration of contemporary socio-political landscape and its intersection with popular culture. The broader implication, therefore, lies in the film’s potential contribution to the normalization and valorisation of patriarchy, misogyny and toxicity.

The institutionalization of patriarchy not only thrives on historicizing the oppression of women but also requires it to survive. There is a longstanding myth that in hunting-gathering societies, men hunted while women foraged and kept busy with child-rearing. Historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists have shown through multiple studies that there was no gendered division of labor. While not surprising, it is quite interesting that Ranbir Kapoor’s character, Ranvijay Singh, in the movie draws this context while professing love for Geetanjali  played by Rashmika Mandana and manifests the ‘alpha-male’ trope. Vanga does not concern himself with correctness of history, rather, once again reflecting symptoms of today’s regime propagates myths to justify the regressive thought that the movie propagates. In this particular scene, he goes on to compliment her child-bearing hips, and Geetanjali, a subdued woman, submits and enjoys this compliment. In this scene, not only is her agency being snatched away, but incorrect history is also being quoted to legitimize her oppression. Ranvijay goes on to differentiate between the weak and the ‘alpha-male’, thereby establishing the toxic idea of masculinity – that a man is only as good as his physical power. This scene itself sets the tone for what is to come in the next three hours.

The whole movie is brimming with sexism, misogyny, and regressive notions of masculinity. From instructing Tripti Dimri’s character Zoya to lick his shoes to casually hitting Geetanjali or entering his older sister’s college with an AK-47 as a school student to ‘protect’ her honor, this movie consistently deprives women of their agency and portrays them in a subservient role, reinforcing the idea that they are weak and should submit.

Engaging in violence without purpose, perpetuating sexism without reason, and asserting masculinity simply for the sake of it. The entire movie indicates a world where men hold more power, and there are many unrealistic scenes with guns and violence. It’s not like Quentin Tarantino’s movies, where violence is portrayed as a way for men to express their masculinity and as a reality of society. While, Animal promotes toxic behaviour, and its story makes the violent, patriarchal, and misogynistic “alpha-male” seem not only acceptable but celebrated.

As I watched the movie, I couldn’t find any scene that was entertaining; instead, I felt repulsed. Observing women losing control of their lives and enduring violence not only allowed me to witness Geetanjali and Zoya’s struggles but also made me connect those experiences to my own. This film introduces a damaging stereotype for men and mirrors the problems within our present political system.

Ranvijay Singh’s arch-nemesis, played by Bobby Deol, is Abrar Haque, a character depicted as a Muslim man. In his introduction scene, he is shown getting married to his third wife. After murdering a man, covered in blood, he rapes his new bride. Subsequently, in a following sequence, he gathers all three of his wives into his bedroom, engaging in a disturbing act of forcefully tearing their clothes. In the current political climate, a Muslim is the perfect antagonist. Abrar successfully embodies and reinforces negative stereotypes against Muslims. While both Ranvijay and Abrar exhibit toxic masculinity, there is a clear distinction in the way they treat their wives. This establishes that while Ranvijay represents a “good” masculine figure, Abrar, being a Muslim, is depicted as a “bad” masculine figure.

The trend of promoting misogyny in entertainment has long been a prevailing mainstream trend. However, in today’s context, where women in the workforce constitute a significant consumer base, there has been a noticeable reduction in the endorsement of violence. The current political regime, characterized by Hindutva ideology, actively glorifies patriarchy and misogyny. Through its policies and ideology, there is a persistent effort to strip women of their agency and acts of violence are employed to enforce traditional gender roles and subordinate women.

Examples of the ruling regime employing violence to enforce the woman’s ‘place’ in society are evident in institutions like BHU, where women demanding agency and freedom on campus face resistance and confinement within the four walls of their hostels. The murder of Gauri Lankesh is met with a disturbing response from a troll army that creates memes to mock and celebrate the tragedy. Even when women wrestlers, who have represented the nation internationally, speak out against a sexual harasser protected by the BJP, they are compelled to return their medals due to the government’s failure to address the issue. These instances collectively paint a disconcerting picture of a regime that not only tolerates but actively perpetuates violence and injustice against women.

Animal, thus is a movie that paraphrases the ideology propagated by today’s ruling politics.


Animal Movie_Legitimizing Subjugation of Women and Hyper-Masculinity in the Guise of Creativity