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 Kabir Singh 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. Joker did not. At no point did I look at the character Joaquin (Phoenix) played ‘Arre yaar, I totally agree with you. You must kill everyone’.”
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 self-serving obeisance to hedonism.
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.
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. 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.