Sandeep Reddy Vanga unnecessarily bothers himself with defending his movies. In case he is planning to do it again, my suggestion would be to save himself the trouble. Just the fact that he gets to make these movies, proves his point. For the foreseeable future, he should sit back and relax; enjoy the luxuries that his opinions earn him: millions in bank, a whole army of dedicated supporters threatening anyone who’d dare to speak against him, and most importantly, perhaps, the great honour of being the ‘filmmaker who challenged society’s views on morality’. What else could one possibly want? He should rest his case.
The common theme between all of Sandeep’s movies is that love and violence are mutually inclusive. He goes as far as saying that if one has not experienced the freedom to be physically brutal, they have not loved at all. This ties well with the aggressiveness with which he approaches the act of filmmaking. He claims to love it; so naturally, in his world, he is allowed to be as sadistic with his art as he desires and if anyone questions him on that, he does what his protagonists do – come back for revenge…and just like his protagonists, he prevails. I doubt that the success of Animal is where Sandeep is getting his rush from, it has to be the existence of this film. That no one could stop his vision from coming to life. The overwhelming reproval of Kabir Singh from the critics in 2019 started a chain of events centered around his personal vindictive rationale, and as he had once announced proudly, he showed us “what a violent film really is”.
There is more to it. Another notable concept Reddy’s movies explore is misplaced pursuit of justice, an idea borrowed by the director from his own life. If art is a means of self-expression, what right do you have to silence him? Time and again, he has demanded an answer to this question. Whether you want to give an answer or if there is a rational answer at all, is immaterial. His argument is that if you get to write poetry about the moon and the flowers, he gets to write scripts where men rape women and kill, sometimes even as an afterthought. These are precisely the scenes that make his movies blockbusters, so he has not only made a very secure place for himself through his work, he has also cleared the path for many others like him who will now get to sit in big rooms with important people who have the privilege of saying things like, “Well, art is subjective”.
Sandeep Reddy has achieved what he set out to achieve: to find general acceptance for people like himself – and to remind women and their allies what brutalities a man can get permission for, and how easily. In case we had forgotten. In case the vagueness of men in meetings rooms, their rudeness in living rooms and their liberties in bedrooms had escaped our minds, making space for the hope that we, and our mothers, and their mothers were able to kindle with small wins in our big fight for respect.
Honestly, yes, the cruelty does escape our minds sometimes. We are hopeful creatures. However, this mission of reminding us what the reality is, may have largely been a futile exercise because we live in a world much worse than what Reddy shows in his movies. He has to know that. There are rude shocks every where; and we continue to dream despite them. Women are not going anywhere, not the least because of a movie; but ultimately, this is not about the movie, anyway. This is about who made it. Sandeep, your art is a flimsy shadow of the person you are; by default, you will always stand above it. Congratulations are in order, I think? You have become a bigger threat than what you have created.
In the last few days, I have participated in a hundred debates around the movie; with the vigor of a first-time parliamentarian no less. However, the exhaustion of these heated arguments is starting to catch up to me. Women often (reluctantly) become friends with this distinct weariness that we cannot give in to. The arduous act of being down and out, but still carrying hope for a tomorrow that will demand fewer explanations: for our aggression, our tiredness, and most crucially, our faith in the day that will come next. I don’t know how to explain to my days that I will keep waking up to them because I have to.
Just like I will keep watching movies…because I have to. Sometimes, these movies will feel like an unexpected invitation to a place that I think is too special for someone like me. And sometimes, they will feel like a slap. Your movies feel like a slap, Sandeep.
I suppose I should thank you for your love?