Illustrations By Bhaskar Adari..
Let me begin by saying this: Arjun Reddy is a film that prides itself for its raw energy and intensity. It’s emotionally vulnerable. The film maker leaves so much for interpretation, which is an odd thing to happen in TFI where we are used to be spoon fed, nauseatingly so, at times. So, if you are someone who doesn’t like reading between the lines, or who is impatient about pain and suffering, then you won’t like the film. And that’s okay. What is not okay is this section of people who are offended by this movie for merely existing.
Let’s talk about a few of them:
1. The infamous cuss. People who’ve heard it for the first time and are traumatized, why? Also, do not step foot in Delhi. Ever. And don’t even think about watching a cricket match coz our captain is very generous with that word. But he is doing it for the country no, so that’s okay, I guess. This movie did not invent the abuse. Yes, the actor got carried away, but surely that’s understandable.
2. The poster controversy. This is relatively less stupid coz the “concern” behind it at least sounds legitimate. We worry that young kids will see this and start kissing everyone in sight. Sure, sounds plausible. But, kids today aren’t that stupid or innocent. I mean, I know a 12-year-old who knows the lyrics to “Shape of you” by heart. Sure, I get that you want to protect, but sadly no one needs your protection. (FYI, if you tell your child that two people kissing is a bad thing, he/she is going to grow up sexually prudish/confused.)
3. Showing alcohol/substance abuse. Of course, you are offended. This is the first movie that did that, right? Wrong. Look, showing bad habits in a cool or stylish way is irresponsible and bad. But, Arjun struggles with his addictions. We are shown how harmful and addiction can be. How exactly is that in bad taste? If watching Arjun Reddy turns your son into a smoker, maybe it’ll make him want to be a doctor too. Not too bad a deal, I think.
4. Feministic concerns. The most reasonable offense of the lot.The stalker-y vibes are undeniable, yes. But, he is a dominant person in nature and Preethi is rather docile. So, him being pushy and unnecessarily forward may just have been his character interacting with hers. Then there is that comment on fat women. Yes, he was crass when he was younger. Then he grew up and decided to not be an ass. People are supposed to be inconsistent with their past selves. We aren’t growing, otherwise.
Instead, let’s look at some of the cool things the movie did.
1. For example, how cool it is that the hero’s friend is given space to breathe. How he is allowed to be a better person than Arjun. How he acts as the movie’s moral compass. So cool.
2. The way we are supposed to glean Arjun’s enigmatic and impulsive way of life by his reasoning for choosing the college he did. He chose his college coz it’s closer to the sea. I mean such a cute and unique thing to say.
3. How cool is Kanchana garu. How very cool is the fact that her favorite song is by Louis Armstrong. Also, how she says “Suffering is personal”. I mean, come on.
4. How the camera decided to not abide by the male gaze. How cool it is that we are just told where the heroine is covered in color, in the Holi scene. No tacky camera lingering. No sir, none.
5. How the hero’s character is allowed to be flawed. We are used to our heroes being literal heroes; it’s hard to connect with them. This dude, though, such a realistic vibe.
6. How Preethi gets out of her marriage. Coz, let’s be honest. A marriage doesn’t mean anything if we are forced into one. Movies act as if that’s the end; it’s refreshing to see otherwise.
If you didn’t already get it from what I said above, I loved the movie. Like, to a dangerous extent. So, we are going to ignore its flaws like the movie ignores Preethi’s suffering.
Anyway, to people who are offended, don’t be. It’s not fair of you to expect others to see the world through your eyes. And to people who are laughing at the offended, get down from your high horse and know that you are coming from a place of privilege. This movie seems like it’s going to be an important chapter in TFI’s history. So, pick your side wisely.
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