8th December 2019

How Parvathy Got Joker’s Misanthropy Wrong

There’s been  a  huge  roar of approval for actress Parvathy Thiruvothu  for calling out  the  by-now mythical  misogyny  of  the Telugu blockbuster Arjun Reddy and  its Bollywood  twin KabirSingh during  a roundtable  chat  moderated  by  critic Anupama Chopra, and that too in  the presence  of  the  Arjun Reddy star Vijay Deverakonda.

 Ms Parvathy said, “Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh had the visual grammar of glorification. Jokerdid not. At no point did I look at the character Joaquin (Phoenix) played  ‘Arre yaar, I totally agree with you. You must kill everyone’.”

She also  ended up putting her  foot in her mouth  by describing the  behaviour  of  the  protagonist  in  Arjun Reddy  as  “bipolar”,  a sensitive mental condition whose casual  use  to describe the protagonist’s  unpredictable  behaviour has  rightly incensed Twitter users.

With due respect  Ms Parvathy seems to have got the entire “grammar  of glorification” wrong.  Nowhere  in Arjun Reddy is there an idealization  of  misogyny. Not one single  person  in  the audience wanted to be  as boorish and  arrogant  as  Arjun Reddy. This “hero” if he  may be called that  is  nobody’s  ideal. Even  Vijay Deverakonda who  played him  and Sandeep Vanga  who  wrote the character  hated  the man , but loved the challenge of creating a character  steeped in his selfserving  obeisance  to  hedonism.

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Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker has  triggered  off a worldwide  debate on glorifying loneliness and despair  to  the point where taking revenge on  an uncaring world seems  the only antidote. The film has played havoc with millions of  troubled minds  across this  anarchic wretched  godforsaken  earth. It very clearly questions the  quality of life conferred  on  those millions of faceless people  who don’t know  when the day begins and their life ends.

So  , yes  Joker is an extremely toxic film, though none the less brilliant for it.Joaquin Phoenix’s  portrayal  of  destructive  desolation is  real enough to  cause havoc in  the collective mental equilibrium  of   our trouble-ridden  universe.

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 On  the  other hand, what  harm has Arjun Reddy   caused to anyone except himself?He is a crappy  man and  no role model for even the most debased generation of self-seekers. 

In an interview with me Arjun  Reddy  director Sandeep Vanga had explained, “How  Arjun Reddy/Kabir Singh feels  is not exactly what I feel. Violence may be his way of expressing love. It’s  not mine. I  never said  one “needs” to slap . All I meant was , one needs  to be fully honest in a committed relationship.And that honesty  can take  on a violent form. And why is only  Kabir slapping his girlfriend  Preeti  being  talked about? What about the fact that she too slaps him back? It works both ways .How they express  their love is  their choice. Why are some people  judging them? And judging me for the way the characters behaviour? My point is, in a true relationship  the emotions can get raw and  violent.

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  Vanga reiterated  that  what  Arjun Reddy  did  or said did not reflect the  director or the  lead actor’s mindset. “I would  do anything and everything with  my partner to make sure I am  my real self. I would drop all  defences,  pull down all my guards. For me the  essence of a strong  relationship is  honesty.I wouldn’t  say I’d slap my partner.Even in the film… how do I explain  to the  idiots  that , ‘Preeti ne pehle mari hai,phir Kabir ne maara’.It’s pointless  to harp on the  slap.”

 I agree. It is  so  easy to go on a bashing binge against  one  of our  own films and  so  trendy to praise a Hollywood film which  unabashedly celebrates  the collective  subconscious fantasy   of  a  trigger-happy generation.

People  are not  treating you kindly? Kill them.

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