What Does Ranbir’s Win For His Role In Animal Say About Us As A Society?

Why would we want the toxic violence of Ranjivay instead of the larger than life heroism of Sam Bahadur or the vulnerability of Rocky Randhawa?

Ranbir Kapoor’s win as the Best Actor (popular choice) for Animal as opposed to his fellow nominees like Ranveer Singh from Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, Sunny Deol from Gadar 2 or even Vicky Kaushal from Sam Bahadur at the 69th FilmFare Awards comes in as a harsh slap on the face of all of us who have vehemently protested against this film or his performance.

Riding high on a wave of toxic masculinity?

This win just goes on to prove how our society is shaped and influenced by a severe dose of misogyny and adverse patriarchy. His win not only celebrates his choice of portrayal of such crude, toxic male protagonists but it also justifies the psychological conditioning of men like Sandeep Reddy Vanga for whom bloodshed, patriarchy or violence is the only form of entertainment that he has to offer. His narcissistic behavior towards his own male leads or his films overshadows the goodness of characters like Rocky Randhawa who in spite of being raised as a male chauvinist wishes to become the flag bearer of change that celebrates men and women in the same breath.

It’s unbelievable that a character like Ranvijay Singh of Animal could be watched and rewatched to an extent that it now gets aired on Netflix whereas films like Annapoorni gets pulled down because it violates the so-called religious beliefs of some sections of the society.

Sandeep Reddy Vanga has been known to make films that are high on shock tactics and low on substance so just like Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh, Animal too is a story of extremely misogynistic and violent men. The latest one goes ahead and sinks even further into regressive depths resulting on Ranbir Kapoor projecting one of the vilest protagonists to have ever graced the silver screen.

Sam Bahadur or Rocky Randhawa should have been winners!

As starkly opposed to this we have Meghna Gulzar painting a beautiful representation of the first Field Marshall of India. Sam Manekshaw or as commonly addressed as Sam Bahadur.

Here’s a man who stands as the fiercest opponent at the war front yet plays the most supportive and loving husband to his wife Silloo Borde and an equally responsible father to his daughters Sherry and Maya. At a time when it’s all about portrayal of extreme jingoistic narratives that outweighs political leadership as compared to the military maneuvers, Meghna Gulzar’s war biopic depicts a tale of true valor the encapsulates the life of a hero whose contributions have not been celebrated enough in popular culture.

Ranbir Kapoor’s win also makes us question the role of Rocky Randhawa, a character chalked out by Karan Johar who was once called out repeatedly and consistently for his vain, ostentatious and hollow scripts. One cannot help appreciate and applaud Johar for his portrayal of Rocky Randhawa who is a welcome change from a typical Bollywood narrative of a hero or a male protagonist. As per the Indian society a man is expected to hide his emotions especially the unpleasant ones, but Rocky is comfortable wearing his heart on his sleeve as well as shedding a tear when his heart bleeds. He doesn’t flinch at insults rather accepts his ignorance and aspires to learn from them. Here is a man who is termed as the perfect “green flag” in the Gen Z lingo, and is not afraid to fail because he knows he would resurrect himself in the best possible manner the next instant.

Why do we insist on celebrating violent men?

The celebration of a violent male protagonist makes us the question the real meaning of a hero-who is he? Is the one who depicts an act of courage? Or someone who inspires love and adulation amongst the masses?

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Thus the success of Ranbir Kapoor truly sparks a debate (at least amongst the discerning ones) about the contrasting ideas of manhood in Bollywood which has more takers for Animal’s toxic masculinity than the larger than life heroism of Sam Bahadur or the vulnerability of Rocky Randhawa.

This also speaks about the society’s interest in a subject that is as lame as a man making his wife listen to a black box recording of the first time they had sex in his private jet as compared to something as chivalrous as a field Marshall who charmingly woos his to-be wife or volunteers to open car doors for ladies.

Men like Vanga choose to relate with their characters-he unabashedly justifies a scene where Kabir slaps his girlfriend Preeti, “There’s love between the two. If you don’t have the liberty of slapping each other, then I don’t see anything there.”

Faiz Ullah, Assistant Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai mentions, “Filmmakers like Vanga are determined to reverse whatever little gains one has seen regarding gender inclusion and the complexity of representation in the recent past”. He calls it a “visceral reaction” to the traction that feminist and social justice movements have been able to create around issues of equality, inclusion, dignity and justice, most recently after #MeToo.

Whether it is Ranvijay Singh of Animal or the real celebrity Ranbir Kapoor’s win at the much coveted FilmFare awards it’s puts us in a conundrum as to who we choose to be our real hero in today’s time. Is it someone who gives their life at the border or the one who reprimands his wife to lick his shoes is only for time to tell!

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