Sandeep Reddy Vanga has done it again. No, we don’t mean he delivered a hit, which this probably will be, like Kabir Singh was. We mean he has made yet another movie eulogising alpha males and their violent and misogynistic traits.
This time, Reddy Vanga has added more alphas to the equation for fun, introduced daddy issues to give the violence a semblance of reason, and pushed misogyny to a side role, not because he wants to downplay it but because making it central to the plot would mean giving women some screentime from the film’s 201-minute runtime.
The movie begins at the end, then moves to the beginning, but the story actually begins in the middle. Taking centre stage is Ranbir Kapoor’s Ranvijay Singh, a man who is introduced to us as a young boy whose love for his absentee and dismissive father Balbir (Anil Kapoor) borders on obsession. We are then introduced to him as a young man, who tells a woman — Rashmika Mandana’s Geetanjali — who has just gotten engaged that she should choose an alpha man like him who can hunt and provide, and woos her by telling her she has broad pelvis, which means she can bear healthy children. That, of course, sparks love, and they elope, have sex, get married and have sex again, and then discuss said sex many more times over the course of the movie.
Then we are introduced to Ranvijay as a man who has come into his own and has gathered a jhund of alpha males who help him kill. Because for an alpha man, violence is the only solution. Especially if that violence is validated by a woman who admits, while said man is putting balm on a bruise caused by him pulling her bra strap again and again — as love language of course — that she was thrilled to imagine when he barged in with a gun to protect his sister from ragging, how violent he would be if someone did the same to her.
The whole of Animal revolves around how Ranbir’s Ranvijay turned to violence because of lack of love and attention from his father, while discounting the patient presence, love and affection of his mother and two sisters. Because, as we are told categorically in Animal, this is a man’s world. A world where long lost cousins from rural Punjab, who are presumably farmers, jump to join Ranvijay at the drop of a hat because they would be able to kill people with guns. It is a world where three women marry the villain Abrar (Bobby Deol) and produce 10 children to prove his virility. It is a world where bodies pile up but no police ever show up. It is a world where male genitalia is a constant topic of discussion — sometimes as a taunt, sometimes as a joke and sometimes in all seriousness.
Both Ranbir and Anil Kapoor do their best with the one-sided characters they have been given. Ranbir is by turns charming (in Sanjay Reddy Vanga’s world; in the real world he would have been a creep), manic and cold-blooded. Anil Kapoor exudes power and cold disdain. But neither father nor son seems to need any rhyme or reason to lose their sh**. This is actually true for the movie itself which moves from scene to scene without any rhyme or reason.
Ranbir is especially great in the action scenes of which there are many, the best being the hotel sequence just before intermission which is incredibly choreographed and very, very bloody. The climax, of course, is a beefed-up man on beefed-up man action piece which is so pointless, other than proving how fit both Ranbir and Bobby Deol are, that you just wish it would get over. Oh, and the BGM in the action sequences would pump up any hot-blooded male in the audience and make your eardrums explode. At least, the gym rats now have new music to pump iron to.
No women were slapped in the movie. There was only one teeny tiny little joke about how if Ranvijay was to slap Geetanjali, he would be her first. Just like he was her first kiss and first sexual experience. But hey, the woman does stand up to him and says she would slap him back, even if it is immediately followed up by more romance. That’s progress, right?