"That’s truly the height of feminism."
Tanishaa Mukerji has praised Animal (2023) for its depiction of feminism.
While the film has been criticised for showing misogyny, the actress took a different stance.
Directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, Animal tells the story of Ranvijay Singh (Ranbir Kapoor), a man who is driven by love for his father, committing crimes and murders.
The film also starred Rashmika Mandanna, Bobby Deol and Anil Kapoor.
The vast amount of bloodshed, violence and masculinity in the film prompted criticism from many fans and film personalities.
In one scene, Ranvijay asks the female character Zoya (Triptii Dimri) to kiss his shoes.
Reacting to the criticism, Tanishaa asserted that the film provided an equal balance in its showcase of genders. She revealed:
“For instance, when Ranbir’s character encourages his sister to speak up after her education at the prestigious Harvard University, it’s a way of motivating her to take over the business and utilise her mind and education.
“I thought that was absolutely brilliant.
“Also, the way Ranbir’s character makes a small gesture by putting on shoes for his wife Rashmika during their honeymoon is interesting and heartwarming.
“How many men in India would actually bow down to their wives and do that?
“So, I thought it was beautiful, and the movie is pretty much in favour of feminism, as is Ranbir’s character.
“It was very realistic because, in certain instances, it actually makes women understand their own hypocrisy better.
“For instance, when Ranbir tells Rashmika that, ‘you are fine with me killing people but you aren’t fine with me cheating on you?’ Isn’t that hypocrisy? What is worse? Murder or cheating?
“I thought it was a very well-written film and beautifully done. I loved every moment of Animal.”
Tanishaa also explained the importance of understanding the film from a male perspective. She divulged:
“We need to understand the psyche of men who have to take care of their entire family.
“We have to understand the psyche of men who have been brought up from childhood to be the responsible one.
“Ranbir says it so beautifully to Anil Kapoor, ‘who was going to protect my sister from being ragged and harassed when you were busy?’
“The way he did it is certainly questionable, but we have to understand the psyche.
“I also feel it was very pro-feminism, especially because of that scene where Ranbir tells Rashmika that, ‘you are getting married to someone just because of the choice of your parents’.
“Whereas, in the olden days, women used to choose the strongest men because they used to fight, kill, and show their strength and worthiness.
“At that time, women used to choose, and what else can be superior to that?
“That’s truly the height of feminism. Telling a woman to choose the strongest man who can protect and take care of you is the best thing ever.
“That’s the world we live in today, and that’s why I feel women need to realise this.”
Referencing the shoe-kissing scene, Tanishaa said:
“According to me, the context was that when Triptii’s character came to confess and tell him that she loves him, it was his way of testing whether Triptii was genuinely in love or not.
“In order to love, one needs to keep his or her ego aside.
“Licking someone else’s shoe is the worst thing someone can agree with, and that’s why when she is actually ready to do it, he doesn’t let her do so because he realises that she indeed does love him.
“That’s exactly why he let her go despite having killed everyone who’s been against his father.”
On the other hand, Javed Akhtar criticised Animal, warning that the film could be dangerous to society.
The makers of the film defended the movie on X, commenting:
“Writer of your calibre cannot understand the betrayal of a lover (Between Zoya & Ranvijay) then all your art form is big FALSE.
“And if a woman (betrayed and fooled by a man in the name of love) would have said ‘lick my shoe’, then you guys would have celebrated it by calling it feminism.
“Let love be free from the politics of gender. Let’s just call them lovers. LOVER cheated and lied.
“LOVER said lick my shoe. Period. @javedakhtarjadu.”
Writer of your calibre cannot understand the betrayal of a lover (Between Zoya & Ranvijay) then all your art form is big FALSE ? & If a woman (betrayed and fooled by a man in the name of love) would have said "lick my shoe" then you guys would have celebrated it by calling it…
— Animal The Film (@AnimalTheFilm) January 7, 2024
The film released on December 1, 2023. It was Ranbir’s highest opener and has currently earned over Rs. 915 crore (£87 million).
Animal has also garnered 19 nominations at the 2024 Filmfare Awards including ‘Best Film’ and ‘Best Actor’.