The human mind is effortless to manipulate, and we have been victims of that manipulation since ages. I would scratch my head often when I hear our elders saying that today’s younger generation are getting spoiled and choosing wrong paths because of movies.
Feminism, toxic masculinity, misogyny, inequality, violence, terrorism, mafia, porn, adult, drugs are the topics and areas in movies which, according to our elder’s intellectual analysis, are impacting the younger generation. Movies never portray reality, but we believe in them and try to emulate the characters in our lives, which is partially true, but how far the impact is on the character and ideals of innocent believers is a question to ponder over.
The latest movie which sparked many discussions and drew focus from critics and audience alike was Arjun Reddy, and its Hindi version Kabir Singh. I haven’t watched the movie but heard about a lot of scenes and dialogues from my friends, both men and women.
There is no rule written anywhere, nor do the moviemakers have an obligation to make a message-oriented and pleasant to watch with family kind of movies. We cannot censor a person’s thoughts even if we try to stop his actions. Movies, like any literature or sculpture, are pieces of art that should be consumed in a very different way, but not in a literal manner. There are movies which would have impacted or motivated us, and changed our perception towards a few things or people, or helped us to become a better person. Few movies stir the emotions in our hearts, and they make us laugh, cry and scream with whistles.
As accused by our elders, if movies are the only reason for our outrageous behaviour and uncultured thoughts, our society would have collapsed by now. Abusive relationships, love failures, drug addiction, are quite common in society, but they are not what we all of us seek to have in our lives.
However, the audience too conducts with double standards in perceiving the content of the film. Arjun Reddy/Kabir Singh was portrayed by Vijay Devarakonda and Shahid Kapoor, the smart and handsome heroes of their respective fields. The hero’s story was received well in spite of his brutality and dominating behaviour with his love. That was accepted and appreciated as a happy and honest love story.
If any artist with darker shades like Nawazuddin Siddique or Prakash Raj portrayed the same Arjun Reddy character, every one of us would have labelled the story and the characters of Arjun and Kabir as a misogynist, torturous, and a sexually harassing medical psycho. We are obsessed with fairness, and always fail to see the real faces beneath the fair mask. We need to be wise enough to take home the real face, that is the quality and depth of the relationships among people, and the essence of a life and the strength to move on, rather than taking in the seductive coating of the characters’ actions on the movie, like the typical characteristic mannerisms of Arjun Reddy, his conduct and his obnoxious behaviour.
Few of my colleagues and friends (women) with whom I discussed Arjun Reddy honestly agreed that it was a good movie, but were not willing or even dreaming of living in an abusive and submissive relationship like what was portrayed in the movie. This honest stance of young women needs to be appreciated, especially at the time when the elders are too much concerned about our discipline and career.
Another piece of annoying nonsense we are unfortunate to bear is that of movie reviews and critics who dictate the moral and social terms of what a typical movie genre should consist of. An honest critique with logical explanation and reasoning is always appreciated, but the double standard in this process is discouraging. Kabir Singh received much flak from critics and few sections of intellectual audience for showing toxic masculinity and abusive relationship by the lead character. However, I don’t understand where these social justice warriors were hiding when there were much such offensive, indirect portrayals and objectification of women in Bollywood all these years, in the name of love.
I stumbled upon a cult classic Tamil movie Apporva Raagangal (1975), which introduced Rajinikanth to the world and showed the innate capabilities of Kamal Haasan. This movie daringly dealt with the relationships between people with wide age gaps. It was controversial and received criticism when it was released, but today we all hail it as the revolutionary movie with the great visionary behind it in the name of K.Balachander. Who knows? Arjun Reddy/Kabir Singh might turn into such a kind of classic after four decades.
It is time we understood that every piece of art made by the current generation turns into a lesson or a reference for future generation reflecting our culture and standards of living. If kids today are taught and brought up with enough maturity to understand the difference between the reel and real, sex and love, habit and addiction, we would no longer need any moral policing upon us, thereby enjoying every piece of art with a broader sense of mind.