I am not a person who watches a movie more than once unless it strikes a chord with its stupendous portrayal of characters or heart-tugging storyline.
But here is a movie, Arjun Reddy, that I watched four times and just waiting for a friend to book the tickets again. No, I am not bored but there is something intriguing about the plot, the potrayal, the story and finally the presentation that was not seen in recent times in any movie. AR has been receiving rave reviews with some calling it a trendsetter, cult and a path-breaking film in Telugu cinema but it has also received its share of criticism with some calling it a misogynistic, alpha male-focused toxic masculinity movie.
Arjun Reddy, the titular character has flaws and kudos to director for showing a protagonist with grey areas unlike stereotypical films in which hero is perfection personified.
Arjun Reddy (Vijay Devarkonda), a non conformist medico student has anger management issues. He makes up his mind to leave college, as he doesn't budge to tender apology to the Dean of his college after beating up students of other college during a football match. But Arjun breaks his decision and stays back after he looks at the heroine (Preethi) as she walks past in a line and falls for her instantly and marks her for himself calling "na pilla" (my girl).
It does send a wrong connotation to youths as they can't pick a person and claim to be theirs as a property. Every individual has a right to say a "no" to proceed in a relationship. As in Fidaa, Varun Tej says to Sai Pallavi that she has a choice to reject his proposal and it is her right.
In AR, the actress doesn't say anything when he plants a gentle peck on her cheek or even when he takes her out of the class. Indeed, it ruminates as which girl will be dumb witted to not retaliate. However, Arjun never gets physical with Preeti until the latter opens up realising that Arjun is protective about her who even picks up fight with other college students for smearing colors on her during Holi.
I totally agree that women should have a say, they are not meek or docile as portrayed in the film but the movie is all shown from hero's perspective because Arjun is the eponymous of the film.
Incidentally, the movie stoked controversy with its umpteen lip locks, drugs and alcohol. To put forth, the director has shown sensuously avoiding vulgarity unlike other flicks showcasing cleavage, and even before the camera shows heroine's face it zooms into her waistline or midriff, the so called Telugu industry's obsession and shortcut to a hit movie.
Few also compared Arjun with VC, played by Kaarthi in Cheliya , Tamil remake of Kaatru Veliyidai. He has been tagged as an alpha male with toxic masculinity and who abuses women. The abuse here is not sexual or physical assault but demeaning your partner and intruding, commanding her space. In love, obsession and possessiveness floats together and every individual has their own ways to reflect them with demarcation of not crossing line.
Arjun tells Preethi whom she should be friends with, and where to sit in a class room. It does seemingly appears overbearing but Arjun breathes life because of her. When the girl's father doesn't approve of their relationship, he gives her six hours of time to respond to him as the ultimatum. Upon not receiving any response, he then injects drugs almost being in a critical state. And wakes up a day later, he comes to know that his girl is married off. He then props up himself to alcohol and drugs as a support. Some even questioned that does make sense and jell with the audience of 2017? I know this is the age where many move on from one face to another but not everyone moves in the same flow. But for some, like Arjun, life comes to a screeching halt and despite the passage of time, the person still holds on to her memories. When you don't know how to vent out the suppressed emotion, you tend to fall into bad company laced with depression.
Questions were also raised on Arjun's chastity when he asks for 'physical' help with no emotional attachment showing his promiscuous nature. It raises eyebrows whether is it okay to indulge in relationships when you are heartbroken. But Arjun's friend Shiva clears the air saying that he can't forget Preethi by doing such things and asks him to discard her from his mind.
A conversation between Arjun and his friend over Preethi is profound. Arjun talks about pregnant Preethi with his friend and says he is ready to take plunge for the new life without giving a second thought that the baby was not his; of course later it is known that Preethi was carrying his baby. What makes this conversation to standout is, how a man in true love is ready to accept her as he says, “adi na pilla”.
AR of course downplayed women in some portions but Arjun shines from lovers’ point of view. As they say, love is blind, perhaps those in love with this movie tend to be intentionally blind to such short-comings in the movie. So, I shall watch the movie a fifth time!!!