Vijay Deverakonda isn’t getting it. He seems to genuinely want to understand what was wrong with his film, and I for one appreciate that. He has spelled out his points forward in yet another video defending the film, saying he’s ready to school people. Vijay, let’s do this point by point. Because I hate to break it to you, Arjun Reddy is still sexist.
"“Misogyny is hatred of women. Arjun Reddy loves women, he loved Preeti. He loves his grandmother. Where is the women hatred that I can’t see?”" - Vijay Devarakonda
While it is true that misogyny is hatred of women, that hatred need not be overt or intentional. Hatred may not find a place in intention, but actions aren’t dependent on intentions. One can have good intentions but be toxic, abusive people. For example, this jilted lover stabbed his girlfriend. Does that mean in his head he didn’t love her? But is that a definition of love we can accept as a society?
"“Thousands of young girls and older women loved Arjun Reddy. So did they all not see the misogyny?”" - Vijay Deverakonda, Actor
Yes, that’s our point. We don’t have a problem with the depiction of misogyny and sexism, but when it is done in a way that the lay person absorbs it as heroic demeanour, that’s the problem. The representation of misogyny was almost as if it were some sort of bravery, or loyalty. This is when you start to plant ideas in people’s heads that in real life could turn extremely harmful. A lot of people see films as an imitation of real life, and the ideas you water there bloom into existence through these people. They can’t see the misogyny because, perhaps, you didn’t allow them to. You wrapped it in paper that said “passion and love”. It was simply abuse.
"“If films influence people, why isn’t everyone a topper in college like Arjun Reddy?”" - Vijay Deverakonda, Actor
That’s true Vijay, influence can be good or bad. I am sure there are people who study harder now because Arjun Reddy was a topper. You don’t hear about it because that’s not a PROBLEM you’re creating. Those aren’t things that need headlines warning people. But when side-by-side your topper starts to abuse his girlfriend, you make that part of your “acceptable” topper trait.
And no, saying people don’t get influenced is entirely untrue. Snapdeal employee Dipti Sarna's abduction made national headlines in 2016 after the main accused and kidnapper Devendra said that he took inspiration from the 1993’s Bollywood film Darr in which Shah Rukh Khan played a stalker. This is just ONE of the innumerable such cases I am bringing up. If you think those ideas aren’t planted by filmmakers, that’s probably true. But why encourage people to water those ideas to become reality at all? Why contribute towards the further oppression of women, however small?
"“Calling her fat wasn’t respectful. But it is not something to make a huge furore over.”" - Vijay Deverakonda, Actor
I get this wasn’t as up on the trauma scale as actually abusing Preeti in the film, but women are dying everyday because of body-issues. Women are starving themselves to death - and it has nothing to do with them being weak, it is to do with the ideas patriarchy has planted in the minds of women from centuries. If women everyday are fighting to stop body-shaming, and you come along and depict a supposed “lover” put down someone for being bigger than the stereotypical idea of beauty, that is pitting women against each other and making one feel smaller about herself.
You've said that thousands of women love you, so guess how many girls watched your film, or probably grew a crush on you, then heard what you said about “fat” people and went home and hated their bodies? You might think the number is small, but that group matters too.
"“You discipline children by beating them. Learning consequences is the biggest lesson in life. I get for someone who has seen abuse it’ll be difficult for them to see it as passion. But for someone who has seen that passion it is normal. We should let everyone be. It is their personal choice.”" - Vijay Devarakonda
Disciplining a child is not the same as disciplining a grown adult woman by physical force. You discipline people you think are not equals - and even that’s not a healthy or welcome thought. Are women to be disciplined by men in their lives now? How can that be passion? Moreover, physically abusing someone is illegal. Take The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. And yes, some women may choose to wear the burqa and some may not. But no woman chooses to be abused and physically assaulted, that servility only comes from an emotional breakdown and toxic manipulation. Love can’t come out of physical abuse or vice-versa. That’s not a “shade” between black and white. That’s jail time.
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