"Some people don’t understand what they are saying."
Kiran Rao recently gave an interview in which she criticised the misogyny shown in Bollywood films.
These comments did not go down well with Animal (2023) director Sandeep Reddy Vanga, who reacted with anger.
Animal was largely criticised for its alleged misogyny. Film personalities such as Javed Akhtar and Swanand Kirkire both called the film out for presenting dangerous themes.
However, in her interview, Kiran cited films including the Baahubali series and Sandeep’s Kabir Singh (2019) as examples.
Sandeep backed up his reaction with Kiran Rao’s ex-husband Aamir Khan as an example.
He said: “Some people don’t understand what they are saying.
“One assistant director showed me the article from this superstar’s second ex-wife where she was saying that Baahubali and Kabir Singh promote misogyny, promote stalking.
“I think she doesn’t understand the difference between stalking and approaching.”
Taking a dig at Aamir’s classic Dil (1990), the filmmaker continued:
“I want to tell that woman that go and ask Aamir Khan about the song ‘Khambe Jaisi Khadi Hai’. What was that?
“Then come back to me. If you remember Dil, he almost attempts rape. He makes her feel like she has done the wrong thing.
“And they fall in love after that. What was all that?
“I don’t understand why they attack like that before checking the surroundings.”
The scene in Dil that Sandeep referred to depicted Raja Prasad (Aamir Khan) threatening to rape Madhu Mehra (Madhuri Dixit) after she makes a false accusation of the crime against him.
Dil became the biggest hit of 1990 at the Indian box office.
In her interview, Kiran Rao expressed her hurt when misogynistic films do well.
She explained: “I suppose all filmmakers set out to make good films, the intention is often great.
“But so much has changed in terms of the market.
“The audience now has so many more options and you are reaching for all kinds of attention when you’re making a film.
“So I suppose, when it is a really regressive sort of messaging, and it makes hundreds of crores, it hurts.
“Because you had the opportunity and you could have pushed the needle in some direction and you didn’t.
“So those are the things that sometimes bother me.
“Having said that, every filmmaker has their goals and they are going to do what they do.
“But it would be really nice if the big films, the kind that audiences love and earn lots at the box office.
“We’re also doing some of that important work for us. Building our society in a more positive way, not stereotyping people, in fact breaking some of those regressive ideas down or in some way opening up those conversations.
“I am not saying that all big films are not good but it would be great if we had more success of films that have better messaging.
“Having said that, films are not necessarily for social change.”
While Animal was criticised for its themes, celebrities including Tanishaa Mukerji and Anurag Kashyap defended the film.
After grossing over Rs. 917 crores (£87 million) at the box office, the movie broke records for weekend viewership on Netflix.
Meanwhile, Kiran Rao is currently gearing up for her film Laapataa Ladies, scheduled to be released on March 1, 2024.
The film marks her return to direction after Dhobi Ghat (2010).