Animal is centered around the Singh household, which has gained prominence through the family-owned business, Swastik Steel. The protagonist of the story is Ranvijay Singh. He has daddy issues because his father, Balbir Singh, has ignored him his whole life. He loves his sisters, Roop and Reet. He hates Reet’s husband, Varun, because he keeps acting like he is Balbir’s “real” son, and he is abusive towards Reet. He falls in love with a childhood friend of his, Geetanjali, after complimenting her “birthing hips” and some nonsense about alpha males and the role of cavewomen. You know, because he is an animal! Anyway, Ranvijay abuses Varun on Balbir’s birthday, and then, at Reet’s request, reconciles with him. But he fails to do the same with an angry Balbir and leaves with Geetanjali for good. When Balbir is nearly shot to death, he makes a return with his wife and two kids and vows to avenge his father.
Does Ranvijay Singh get his revenge?
Yes, he does. It’s a typical Telugu film masquerading as a serious and masculine Bollywood film. Of course, the “hero” gets his revenge by killing the guy who facilitated the hit on Balbir (which is Varun), the guy who did the hit on Balbir (which is Asrar Haque), and the guy who ordered the hit on Balbir (which is Abrar Haque). But the whole trajectory feels so hollow because it always seems like Ranvijay is on this angry revenge quest because he has been programmed to do that. We don’t see why he is programmed that way. Balbir isn’t a violent man, or at least we don’t see him partake in any kind of violence. Ranvijay’s grandfather insinuates that he and his brothers went out into the world to conquer it, but we don’t see the “how” or the “why” behind it. We just see the result of it, which is Swastik Steel. So, why is Ranvijay like that? Well, I guess, the director wants us to think that he has somehow accessed the genes of his caveman ancestors and randomly learned about alpha males and submissive women, whilst living in a world where that little thing called “legal repercussions” doesn’t exist. But the reality is that Sandeep Reddy Vanga has made a character by misinterpreting the works of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. He channels the talking points of literal criminals like Andrew Tate, and since people like Tate are insecure men who are waging some kind of war against feminism and equality, their Bollywood byproduct feels like a manchild.
Apart from Roja, the only thing that Vanga directly references to craft Ranvijay’s character is Michael Jackson, a pop star who famously advocated for peace and spoke up against violence, thereby making Ranvijay’s bloodlust even more confusing. Also, for some very weird reason, we never get to see the transformation between the various phases of Ranvijay, and that keeps us from actually studying him as a character. You have the middle schooler, Ranvijay. Then there’s the gun-toting high schooler Ranvijay. Then there’s the America-return Ranvijay. After that, there’s the married and bearded Ranvijay. There’s an injured and fat Ranvijay, which is followed up by a recovered-with-a-new-heart Ranvijay. And the changes are only cosmetic. There’s nothing going on in that tiny brain of his. If that was the entire point of Animal, I would’ve understood. However, Vanga desperately tries to convince us that there is something deeper and more aspirational, as evident from Ranvijay’s son running into his arms despite not spending a single second together, and that makes the exercise feel pointless. If Vanga wasn’t all that concerned with demeaning women, maybe he could’ve made Ranvijay’s arc borderline interesting.
What Is the Deal Between Ranvijay and Women?
Credit where credit is due; in the case of Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh, you could see the inner machinations of those characters’ misogyny. Even if you couldn’t, because the writing was that bad, you could imagine what was driving Arjun and Kabir to groom women, use them to pass his time, and decide to be a “loving husband” when they were about to give birth to their respective children. That’s because we’ve seen men like Arjun and Kabir. Vanga admitted that he drew from his personal life to craft those characters. So, the combination of taking inspiration from something tangible and the audience’s experience dealing with such men gave Arjun and Kabir some substance. Who is Ranvijay inspired by? He has all the markings of an incel who has consumed nothing but Andrew Tate videos and Sigma-Alpha Reddit posts that teach impressionable children of the internet to hate women or “teach them their place.” But the disconnect is caused by Ranvijay’s wealth and his incel-ish behavior. Someone who has Ranvijay’s genes, wealth, immunity, resources, and appeal doesn’t spend their days emulating people. In the era of endless information, we know what the sons of industrialists, politicians, and anyone who belongs to the most upper crust of the upper classes act like. We see them in real-time failing to string a set of words, even if they’re reading them off a teleprompter. Their business decisions never work. They become the president of a country by riding some kind of nationalistic trend, but then their fall from grace is so magnificent that it’s hilarious. Their sexism and misogyny are creepy and never really aspirational. That begs the question: Is Sandeep Reddy Vanga trying to make the upper-class douchebags look cool even if they aren’t? If that’s the case, then that is just sad.
Here’s another difference between Arjun Reddy’s sexism and Ranvijay’s imposition of patriarchal norms: Regardless of what he says, Vanga clearly wants his fanbase to act like his characters. He wants to give his followers some talking points on the off chance that their insecurity is exposed by feminists. Now, the things that Arjun says can be emulated by people who think he’s aspirational because he’s a regular, toxic dude. In what world can someone even think about talking like Ranvijay? According to Animal, a man who thinks that cheating is okay has to be born into a family that has so much wealth that an extended member of the family has to come to assassinate him. When the assassination isn’t going to work, that extended member has to send a woman to honey trap him. Then he has to feign romance in the most PG-13 way possible, make this mole fall in love with him, and then reject her love. After that, when his lawfully married wife accuses him of cheating on her, he can say that he had meaningless intercourse with another woman to get information on how to save the family. Oh! He also has to kill thousands of people so that he can tell his wife that if a woman can excuse murder, why can’t she excuse cheating? Who is doing all this? That sounds tedious, even for the most misogynistic individuals in the world! The only understandable thing about Ranvijay’s brand of misogyny is his treatment of his mother and sisters. He has seen Balbir treat Jyoti like nothing. So he treats his mother like she is nonexistent. He has seen Balbir “mismanage” Reet and Roop. So, he feels the need to “take care” of them by planning every step of their lives. By the way, if any man tries to emulate this behavior in the 21st century with the women in his family, I don’t think it’s going to end well for him.
What Is The Meaning Of Ranvijay And Balbir’s Concluding Conversation?
Amidst all the women-hating and toothless violence, the thing that gets hurt the most is the father-son dynamic of Animal. I mean, the movie asks us to witness a father-son bond that is carved in blood or with blood. And by the time the credits rolled, I wondered where the carving was. None of the conversations between Ranvijay and Balbir have any depth. Ranvijay says he is ignored. Balbir spews some nonsense about duty and work. Why does Balbir think about Ranvijay when he is on the brink of death instead of the people who are around him? I don’t know. Why is Ranvijay obsessed with Balbir when he is getting more love from Jyoti? I don’t know. Why does Ranvijay care about Swastik Steel even though he has been shooed away from it? It has something to do with his birthright, I guess. There’s this interesting shift where it seems like Ranvijay is dwarfing Balbir out of spite. But then it’s revealed that he’s doing it out of respect and to get validation. At the cost of sounding repetitive, why? I know that I’ve said “I don’t know” multiple times, but I think that Vanga doesn’t either. That’s why he throws cancer into the mix.
If you have watched a sizable amount of Bollywood movies, you’ll know that cancer is used very frivolously. Very rarely do we see Bollywood movies actually dealing with the horrific repercussions of cancer. Even Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, a movie that also featured Ranbir Kapoor, had the most sanitized portrayal of cancer because the filmmakers didn’t want to scare away audiences with a dose of true realism. However, the frequency at which the disease is used to elicit “emotion” has elevated it to meme status. That’s why Balbir dying of leukemia isn’t impactful at all. There’s some mention of the notion of mortality here and there, and Vanga tries to tie it to Balbir’s death and how Balbir and Ranvijay are going to be in a constant cycle of being each other’s son and father. Are they some kind of soulmates? I don’t really know, and given the extent of Vanga’s daddy issues, I don’t think I want to. It does seem like Vanga is hinting that Ranvijay has lost his purpose now that Balbir has given him his approval, and he is dying. Unfortunately, this whole arc is buried under so much unnecessary stuff that the themes of unrequited parental love and inherited violence are lost in the noise. In the hands of someone competent, Ranvijay’s character and his bond with Balbir would’ve been fascinating to watch. I am being serious here. There are countless examples of flawed and toxic characters throughout film history who are cited during film studies and general discourse. Even though Vanga wants to enter that club with Arjun Reddy, Kabir Singh, and now Ranvijay Balbir Singh, he can’t because his ideas are too juvenile, too timid, and lacking in substance. Sandeep Reddy Vanga needs to grow up before being considered a grownup.