Tuesday Telugu: Arjun Reddy (SPOILERS), Is Paro Feeling Devdas’ Pain, or Is it the Other Way Around?

This is is a movie that rewards viewing whether or not you know what happens, so feel free to read this, if it is the kind of film you would enjoy, knowing what happens in advance won’t change much.  And as I said in my last No SPOILERS review, the true brilliance of the film is in the story structure, so you can’t fully understand why it is remarkable without knowing that.

There are 3 main strands to the plot.  The past love story, the current addiction drama, and the medical career issues.

For the past love story, we see in flashback that our hero Vijay Deverakonda was the top student and top rowdy of his medical college.  When he was about to pass out, he fell in love at first sight with a shy young new student Shalini Pandey.  He claimed her for his own without even talking to her, just kind of started ordering her around and treating her as his girlfriend and made sure everyone on campus new it.  She never seemed to react one way or the other, until finally she made the first move and kissed him, which quickly turned into sex.  They lived together for 6 months while he finished his course, then had a long distance relationship for another 3 years, until finally she finished school and he got a good job in their mutual home town.  He promptly approached her family to propose a relationship, her father rejected him angrily, and he responded with equal anger, giving her 6 hours to call him and tell her decision.  Only, her family took her phone away, and by the time she got out of the house and over to his house, he had already mixed morphine and alcohol and overdosed.  Two days later when he woke up from his coma, he ran to stop her wedding, and she did not turn around when he called her name, remaining firmly facing the wedding alter.

 

For the addiction drama, we see that he has always been a risk taker and a bit of a drinker.  After that first morphine overdose, his family threw him out and his best friend Shiva/Rahul Ramakrishna (who, I think, was the outstanding performer of the film) helped him find an apartment.  He entered into a routine of drinking every day, but trying to control it while at work (he had his nurses mark a line on the glass).  His friend gets him a dog, named “Preethi” after his ex-girlfriend, but that is the only bright spot in his life.  Otherwise, it becomes increasingly clear, it revolves around drinking and work and nothing else.  At the opening of the film, he is trying to replace one addiction with another, planning to have angry desperate sex with a casual acquaintance.  When that doesn’t work out, he calls around, trying to find any other willing woman, and then gives up.  He tries again later, with an actress who comes to see him for medical help, and again it doesn’t work out, he ends up talking with her when they are supposed to be having a sex only relationship, and can’t do it when she admits she has fallen for him.  And so he keeps going back to alcohol and drugs.  Finally passing out and coming near death again, while at work, followed by a failed attempt to go cold turkey, followed by a relapse, followed by hitting rock bottom, selling off electronics from his apartment for drug/alcohol money, getting thrown out, and sleeping on the streets.  Until Rajul tracks him down to tell him his beloved grandmother has died.  Which causes a reconciliation with his family and, finally, he gets his addiction under control.

And third, there is the medical story.  Right from the start, we know he is a brilliant and caring doctor.  We see him being drunk, angry, desperate for sex.  And then he goes to work and is considerate and caring to his patient, respected by his staff (even though they know of his anger and drinking problems), and generally shines his brightest there.  We also learn that he is using work as an escape and an excuse.  He is performing even more surgeries than he is supposed to, he has medical knowledge and notes written all over his apartment, behind and around the alcohol bottles.  Even in the flashback, this is true, he is obsessed with Shalini at first sight, but that does not stop him from studying for his Masters and topping it.  Throughout their 4 year relationship, he continues to excel at his profession.  And the breakdown comes when his addiction and his profession are in conflict.  He is called in on his day off because there is no other surgeon available and his staff knows he can save this patient’s life.  He does, by sitting propped up in a chair and directing the nurses in the operation, before finally passing out just as the patient is saved.  This is a really interesting medical conflict, because the argument that is mentioned in passing, and which is shown to some degree by what else we see of this hospital, is that it is truly the hospital’s fault (possibly related, the director has a medical degree himself and would have seen this kind of conflict first hand).  They wanted him to over work, to keep their figures and statistics up.  And they were the ones who did not have another surgeon on call on his day off.  I think there is a nod here towards the conflict between this dedicated doctor who just wants to help his patients, and the for profit hospitals of India (and, really, America as well, it’s just less obvious here).  Our hero is so far gone by this point, just recovered from the overdose during the surgery, that for a while he just goes along with what everyone else says, his brother who hires a lawyer to help him and so on.  And he is going to get off.  But ultimately, in a sequence that is a complete rip off of Flight but I will allow it, he has one more relapse the night before his testimony, passes out, his friend gets him some cocaine so he can testify (again, all of this was in Flight), and then during the trial, at the last minute, he just can’t do it.  He has hit his breaking point and has to admit that he is an addict and, although he never actually caused harm to a patient, he could have, and does not deserve his license (again, just like Flight).  This isn’t the moment that “cures” him, because addiction isn’t that simple.  But it is the moment that helps him get to rock bottom, which is where he needs to reach before he can start climbing back up again.  He has to lose everything, including his medical license, before he can finally admit he needs to change, he needs help.

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Now, all of this is a fascinating film.  The attitude towards medicine, the reality of the addiction story line (with the relapses and the slow slide and there being no one magical moment that can fix him, not until he is ready for it), and of course the adorable Tere Naam-esque college romance.  But what makes it brilliant, what makes it like something I’ve never seen before, is the ending.

It’s a Devdas film, right?  So Dev loses Paro, Dev sinks into depression and addiction, Dev tries to forget with other women, Dev’s devoted friend tries to help him, etc. etc.  But what always bothers me with these stories is the attitude of “Oh Paro, she’s FINE.  She’s married, she’s got a house, she’s doing the things that women do, she’ll get over it.  Let’s focus on Dev’s pain!”

And that was beginning to bother me, as the flashbacks continued in this film.  At first, it seems like maybe she would be fine without him.  Their early romance is (surely purposefully) disturbing.  He sees her, and immediately announces to the entire college (in a neat scene where he speaks in Telugu in front of the Hindi speaking teacher claiming it is an announcement about a service camp) that she is “his”, she is not to be bothered or ragged in any way.  He confidently puts a pillion seat on his bike, that same day, and in the evening he orders her to come over to him and then kisses her on the cheek.

In Tere Naam, Bhoomika (rightfully) was extremely upset by this kind of behavior, but was so scared that she had a hard time figuring out how to express it.  In Ninnu Kori, just earlier this year, we had a whole story line of a heroine finding her strength by standing up to a bully just like this, an older student of her college who had decided she was his “wife”.  I also assume this is something that actually happens on college campuses?  Part of ragging being that a male older classmen might decide a female younger classmen is “his”, and so long as it goes no further than ordering her around a bit on campus, everyone looks the other way?

And so we have this romance building in complete passivity on her part and bullying demanding on his.  He pulls her out of classes and informs her that he will tutor her instead.  He finds her at night and sleeps in her lap.  He decides her roommates, her friends, her whole life is arranged by him on her behalf.  And if the romance had stopped there, then yes, this could have been a relationship where she would marry someone else and walk away without harm.

But it doesn’t stop there.  For the first time, she makes the first move.  After he has arranged for them to be alone together at his off campus housing, she is the one who takes his hand and leans forward inviting a kiss.  And then smiles, for the first time, big and broad, after he kisses her.  And then they have sex.

And that’s the proper place for sex.  As a way to show what he means to her and she means to him, as a marker of the intimacy of their relationship, their trust in each other.  She wouldn’t be able to show in any other way how she feels, not as clearly as this.  And this is the point where I started thinking “wait, what happened to this woman while our hero is sunk in misery?  How is she recovering?  Is she recovering?”

As the flashback continues, those questions loom larger.  This wasn’t a magical few months at school, this was a long term relationship.  That survived long distance, one of the toughest tests.  She visited him, he visited her, they skyped, they called, it was part of their daily life for 4 years.  And the proposal at the end of it, that was a foregone conclusion, they were already ready for marriage, he had the job picked out, she was waiting for him to come, it was just the formalities that needed to be finished.

This is why, I think, this film had to be so in your face and “honest” and “real” about things.  People actually kiss, actually have sex, actually snort coke (is that the right terminology?), actually do all these things.  This is the real world.  And part of that real world is young people who fall in love and build a relationship that can’t be erased just by a forced marriage to someone else.  And it is time for society to wake up to that, for films to wake up to that.  No, you DON’T have to just “get over” your love story, not if there isn’t a reason for it, not if you were truly in love and together for 4 years.  That’s not how the world works anymore.  This is a world with English films and English songs (Goodfellas and “What a Wonderful World”), a world where our hero is a third generation love marriage/cross-caste family.  He says in their last fight that “this is 2017!” and he is right.  It is, and pretending otherwise is insanity.

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(Okay, our hero still rides a Royal Enfield, but that’s timeless)

Speaking of that last fight, the falling apart, we see that our “hero” is in fact as culpable, if not more so, than she.  Her family is terrifying and angry, even her little brother is furious at the thought of this strange man from a different caste coming to take her away.  And in response, our hero becomes terrifying and angry.  She is being battered and badgered from both sides, and there is very little she can do about it.

And this is the key to her character.  This is what unlocks their early romance.  He seemed to be in control, guiding it all.  But this is a woman that has spent her life in a household dominated by others.  She is used to this treatment, it is all she knows.  And those little moments of openings, touching him while riding the bike, putting a blanket over him while he slept, those were her little gestures in return of his affection, the only way she knew how.  Until sex unlocked the gates and she found a method that they could both understand, that they could use to communicate when words weren’t enough.  But now, they don’t even have that, she is at one house and he is at the other, and he isn’t “listening” when she runs after him and tries to embrace him, to kiss him.  He wants the words from her, words she cannot say, because it is not in her nature to express herself in that way.

And so we have to wonder, while our hero is drinking and drugging himself to death, what is she doing?  Did she actually find happiness with that man her father forced her to marry?  Why didn’t she turn around when he came to her?

Through out the film, there have been conscious time markers.  The very opening is his family pointing out that it has been 82 days since he left their house.  And this is followed by mentions of 4 months, 6 months, 8 months.  And finally he sees her again, after he has hit rock bottom and come back to the surface.  Lost his job and everything else in his life, but been allowed back into the family and is ready to move on and find a new path.  He sees her in the park, heavily pregnant, as he is about to leave town.  And then he does leave.  Only to randomly meet an old friend while on vacation and, through their conversation, decide that he has to return, to see her again, that she “can’t be happy if I am unhappy”, and therefore he has to go to her and ask her to leave her husband.

And that is when we get our, well, not exactly “twist”.  Maybe a better word would be “re-alignment”.  He finds her again, in that same park.  And he tells her that she has to come with him, now, he loves her and she loves him and he knows that.  She points out that she is pregnant, and he tells her that he will love the child and be its father.  He will even talk to her husband for her.  But he knows she can’t be happy.  She throws in his face the stories she has seen in the news, losing his license for drinking, the affair with the actress.  And that he told her, in their final argument, that she only had 6 hours to call him and if she didn’t, she should marry the man her father picked out.  She went to his house after the deadline and he didn’t even see her.  And then he didn’t call or come for 2 days.  So when he finally showed up, after the marriage had already happened, of course she didn’t turn around.  And for the past 8 months, she has been waiting for him, she left her house 2 days after the wedding, moved into a hostel, took a job in a clinic, cried, waited, was lonely.  And also has been growing his baby inside of her.

See, this was never “Arjun Reddy”s story at all!  The title, that was a trick on the audience.  It was the story of his lover, Shalini (Preethi in the film).  She has been watching him for 8 months, seeing what the audience saw, his dalliance with the actress, his increasing addiction, his professional failures.  And she has had the greater suffering, the original suffering.  He says “she cannot be happy if I am happy”, but the truth is the reverse.  The reason he could not get over this great love, despite what everyone tried to do, could not even sleep with another woman, is because his unhappiness was her unhappiness.  She had tied him to her, and her misery was causing his.

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(this conversation, that this still is from, that kind of honesty and comfort, it’s not something that magically goes away with a marriage thread)

In fact, nothing in this film is truly “Arjun”s story.  His grief over his grandmother, that is a reflection of his father’s much greater grief (which he realizes and admits that is the primary reason he came home, to be there for his father).  His concern over his medical issues, there is a reason we keep seeing his two nurses in the background, watching him.  They are his conscience, they are the ones who will be in trouble, who will cover for him, who will keep him grounded in this medical world.  In the end, they are even the ones who do the surgery.  And even that “magical” college love story, that was just an echo of another equally great love story that was never even noticed.

On the same night that our hero and heroine are having their passionate farewell before he leaves for his graduate program, two of his friends, Kamal and Aditi, have the start of their romance.  She suddenly turns to him and tells him that she wants to kiss him tonight.  Years later, while our hero Vijay is sunk in depression, Kamal comes to see him and tells him that he and Aditi are planning to be married.  Vijay is moderately surprised, he didn’t think they were that serious.  And he is pessimistic, says there is no way she will convince her family to agree, she won’t care that much.  And then Kamal appears with the wedding card.  And Vijay is disgusted, says he doesn’t “deserve” this happy ending, he doesn’t love like Vijay loves.

And here is where we get a little foreshadowing of that turn at the end.  Because Rajul steps in, who has been friends with both of them this entire time, and points out that no, Vijay doesn’t love like Kamal loves, Kamal loves better.  Kamal put up with abuse and bruises and nastiness from Aditi for years, waiting for her to return his feelings.  That is love, not this passionate sudden thing, but patient waiting.  And Vijay didn’t even see it.  This isn’t just a foreshadowing that Vijay needs to be more patient and loving, this is a foreshadowing that, maybe, we are looking at the wrong person when we look for the greatest lover.

Because, in the end, it is Shalini who is the great one.  Slowly an alternative image builds of their falling in love.  Vijay mentions at one point that she picked him.  All the other new girls were shy and wouldn’t meet his gaze, but she turned and looked at him, and that is when he knew.  She is the one who kisses first, she is the one who initiates sex.  She is even the one who comes for the first visit after he has moved away, beginning the long distance relationship.  And she was the one whose heart was broken in that final fight, not him.  She is the one who has been faithful against all odds, thought he didn’t care, suffered and waited and lived a life of misery for 8 months.  It is her misery that is the greatest, and her faithfulness that brought them through.

And that’s what makes this film brilliant.  Not our hero, fascinating though he is, but the fact that the narrative, in slow intricate ways, reveals that he isn’t a hero at all.  His misery came from the sense of wrongness, incompleteness, and that is because of the real story, the full story, which was happening just beyond his grasp and out of his sight.

 

(oh, and if you want to see my five-minutes-after-the-movie-is-over reaction, here is my video with moviemavengal shot in her car)

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35 thoughts on “Tuesday Telugu: Arjun Reddy (SPOILERS), Is Paro Feeling Devdas’ Pain, or Is it the Other Way Around?

    • If my review gave you a better idea of whether or not you would enjoy this film, then I did my job!

      On Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 3:54 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Yeah, usually it isn’t as confusing, but I put that paragraph in the middle specifically referencing the title which meant I had to call the title character by his character name right there.

      I give this explanation a lot, I should really put up a post just with this so I can link back to it. The “site style” here is for me to use the actor names whenever possible instead of the characters, just like the New York Times always uses “Mr. Khan” for Shahrukh.

      I have 3 reasons for this:

      1. If people are new to the films, it is very important to learn who all the actors are, so I am hopeful that using actor names will help them to do that. And will help promote the actors to new audiences.

      2. And then for long time viewers, using character names often would be more confusing than star names. For instance, imagine trying to discuss K3G saying “Rahul” “Rohit” and “Yash” instead of “Shahrukh” “Hrithik” and “Amitabh”. Especially if you are reading about a film you have not yet seen, you want to know what happens to “Salman Khan”, not some character whose name you don’t really know.

      3. Finally, for many films, actors are more playing themselves than any particular character. Amitabh is almost always Amitabh, Shahrukh is Shahrukh, and so on. The character names are meaningless.

      It gets confusing with films like this one because the second and third reasons don’t really apply, no one knows these actors so it is just as easy to use character as actor names. And they were definitely playing distinctive memorable characters.

      I debated what to do for this particular review, but I went with my usual style partly because it is my usual style and I try to be consistent as much as possible across the site. And partly because that first reason is still in play. It’s important to know who these people are, and hopefully my using their real names will help them get credit for their work.

      On Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 10:59 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • But does NYT use Mr. Khan in reviews where they describe his characters actions? It wasn’t this confusing in JHMS but for Arjun Reddy I did go through a paragraph or two quite confused.

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        • No, NYT style is to switch back and forth between character and actor depending on what they are describing “Mr. Khan does a remarkable job conveying the character’s emotions-Harry is a sad lonely man”.

          Anyway, that was more just a general example of how places have a “house style” that doesn’t always work perfectly, but is consistent within the same publication.

          And yeah, JHMS is an example of one of those movies where my system works perfectly. Everyone knows and can picture Shahrukh and Anushka. And then you probably didn’t even notice, but in my character discussion posts I switched to using the character names instead of the actors, because it was appropriate in that context since I was just talking about the characters, not the performance or what shows up onscreen. Most films it works like that, but then there are these funky ones and I have to decide what to do with them.

          On Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 11:13 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yes, switching when talking about a character and actor is what I was taught too. (journalism student in a convent college in India- its not much but it was decent).

            thanks for the explanation.

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  7. Dear Margaret,

    Just discovered your website by chance. Being from India, I appreciate your analysis which I do not usually see reviews published here. I think the way you write, even with spoilers, wants me to watch some movies which I missed out on. Kudos to you. Please continue writing about Indian movies and make the world realize that we are more than Bollywood.

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    • Thank you! That is my goal exactly, to make people want to see more movies, and be able to enjoy them more. I hope you browse around the site a little, I’ve covered quite a few films by now, probably a lot that you have already seen and want to think about more, and others that you are considering watching.

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  8. Pingback: Arjun Reddy – A Fascinatingly Different Telugu Film on Love and Loss – Tales'n'Tunes

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  11. This was such an interesting way to look at the movie! I never thought of the movie being what Preethi sees of Arjun during those 8 months.

    “On the same night that our hero and heroine are having their passionate farewell before he leaves for his graduate program, two of his friends, Kamal and Aditi, have the start of their romance. ”
    The girl is not Aditi, it’s Anisha. Aditi is the one with curly hair and glasses. The guy’s real name is Kalyan but his character’s name is Kamal.

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    • Thank you! both for the nice compliment and for the correction. The cast list was pretty sparse back when I was writing this so I had to make a guess at some actor/character names.

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      • I wouldn’t have caught it but I saw Aditi in another movie recently which I really liked so I recognized her name.

        It’s a screwball comedy called Ami Thumi and Aditi played a pretty important supporting role in it. Here’s the trailer:

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  13. Watched this movie this weekend and loved it! And then, came here and read your review. This movie felt so real and relatable… with no over the top settings and situations. It is definitely one of my favorite movies, so character driven! 🙂 I was confused about the girl’s character in the beginning questioning why she doesn’t say anything at all and is so submissive for a good part of the movie, but your review has cleared any lingering doubts about her not having agency.

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  14. Well the wait was worth it. Although the 3 hour long movie got a little longer for me since I had to pause it and work in between too. So the entire thing lasted over 6 hours for me. Which drained me out completely because this film is extremely emotionally draining. Also, gave me major flashbacks!!! Yikes!!

    I initially thought Preethi was submissive but turns out consent doesn’t always need to look like a flashy billboard. From the moment he pulls her out of class to take her for a ride and a lesson, it is clear that she consents. It only doesn’t look enthusiastic because she isn’t a naturally exuberant person. You’re right in saying that that was probably how she was raised and “good middle class girls” aren’t supposed to be exuberant anyway. I thought her father being a cousin of the Reddy’s manager angle was underplayed and it should have been used to highlight the caste angle but in a way it was great that her father judges them solely on the basis of their sexuality which he thought was promiscuity on both their parts. Him trying to explain what happened at her house and that entire sequence feels very choppy and I felt like some scenes were probably edited out for whatever reason. IMO, that was supposed to be the most emotionally violent sequence of events but it felt very toned down.

    Also, I don’t know if the film could impact someone without a personal history of battling addiction on quite the same level as someone who’s faced these struggles. I kept getting pulled out of it because of just how “normal” he looked. They should have worked more on his makeup. He’s too young and healthy looking to convince someone who’s seen it first hand completely. For a film that got a lot right, the absence of the withdrawal sequence felt a little too convenient and sloppy in such a long film. You hit rock bottom and then when you’re trying to get back up, the struggle is steep and physically straining. The overseas sequence, i don’t know, it felt completely unnecessary to me. It could have been a rehab stint. Rather it should have been a rehab stint because his recovery makes zero sense without it.

    That said, it still is as raw as it can in a film without getting too cliched. I was definitely surprised by the ending. i was waiting for one of them to snap. But I suppose it is good knowing that there can be a happy ending for Devdas too!

    i can’t wait for your film suggestions now that I’ve watched it!!

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    • I love that phrase, “consent doesn’t always need to look like a flashy billboard”. I find it most noticeable in this film, where he is the only one who full sees the signals she is sending and everyone else thinks he is mad, but it is applicable to so many other films too. Being a “good” Indian girl is so restrictive, you need to be able to communicate softly how you are feeling. I’m also thinking of Saathiya and Bombay, just off the top of my head, where the guy reads little smiles and moments and knows how she feels.

      For caste, if I was understanding it correctly, there is a conflict between caste and class. Our hero is very very wealthy, but his grandparents on down had intercaste marriages. While her family is poorer, but is pure and committed to staying within their caste and community. It feels, to me, like even if they hadn’t been caught kissing, her father never would have given consent to her marrying outside the community. The kissing just brought it to a head sooner.

      Agree about the overseas stint! And about the physical aspect. Maybe they wanted to move forward with hope after the turning point so they didn’t want to drag the film down with withdrawal symptoms and so on. But I think instead of this dreamy overseas sequence, they should have had him get through the funeral and then go to rehab, and just cut forward 3 months to him leaving rehab without us seeing everything, and that is when he meets his friend.

      Okay, recs! First film you absolutely MUST see is the Tamil movie Vaaranam Aayiram. It’s this story, sort of, but I think it is done better. Mayaanadhi, which I just watched this weekend and is Malayalam, another similar story you would love. 24, which is not a similar story at all but is steampunk sci-fi and has the same hero as Vaaranam Aayiram. OK Kanmani (if you haven’t seen it already) for another realistic feeling sexual relationship. Ayalum Njanum thammil for another broken hearted doctor movie (this time with Prithviraj!). They are all varyingly difficult to track down, but Vaaranam is really worth it, that is the one I would make your first priority.

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      • Ok kanmani has been on my list forever. One problem that I have these days is that my workday has pretty much become spread over the entire day. So I have 20-minute breaks every other hour where I can probably watch these films but the dedicated afternoon slot for filmwatching I will probably only get back when it’s hotter and my staff is motivated to slog during the first half of the day.

        The more I think about this film the more I love that these people were so real. Like they could totally be people I knew from college or around. I liked how the film never presents any judgement for the premarital sex. The friends don’t judge it, the couple doesn’t judge themselves for it, the college doesn’t call her family telling them she moved out of the hostel, nobody comes barging into his bedroom when they’re making it to 550, when she confessed it to her family in the mini rebellion, his insolence is what makes them force an arranged marriage on her not the fact that her father caught them in the act. It is a huge leap forward for Indian films. Especially telugu films which are even more regressive than hindi films in how they present sexuality.

        Also, and I thought it was a problem when this scene came on, but the holi sequence has her be sexually assaulted by the rival gang. My first reaction was ok why isn’t he more violent about it? And then I thought I was being way too north Indian about this!!! Like seriously!!

        It was pretty well done. Convenient almost because him with his gundagardi, that situation could have been shown as he leaves behind some juniors in charge of her safety and maybe there’s an incident and he comes back and a sexy fight sequence happens. But no. They opted for a scene where he breaks down in the middle of beating the dude down to a pulp. The dude isn’t exactly a role model or a model of feminist allies but I thought the film steered very clear of misogyny. Rather it reinforced feminism at every point including the very useless kamal’s bawa to be scene.

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        • The movie got some minor amount of grief for being a “stalking” romance, which I thought was a sign of people not watching closely enough. She gives consent straight through, and everything else is so well done. Even the way he relates to the nurses he works with is as equals, as people, not as sexual objects. And the women he tries to have sex with, he is open about what he is looking for from them, and the film treats them as real people with their own motivations and complications.

          The small amount of misoginy the film included ended up being shown to be “Wrong”. Not just morally, but foolish and a mistake. His blaming of her for leaving him, for being faithless, all his friends telling him she has moved on, trying to get him angry at her, all of that was a mistake. If he had trusted his heart to begin with, his sense that they were really in love and it couldn’t have gone wrong, he could have tracked her down months sooner.

          On Mon, Mar 12, 2018 at 3:26 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I suppose his explosive anger and self righteousness explains that and that was explained with the football match so there’s a baseline for that aspect of his behaviour.

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          • Yes, and it’s an interesting take on his character flaws. His initial anger and self-righteousness broke them up. But it was going against that instinct and listening to “reasonable” arguments from others that kept them apart. He was drowning his instincts in alcohol and other drugs, only once he was finally clear headed was he able to trust himself and know that the right thing to do was ignore her marriage and try to find her again, because she must still love him.

            Which is, again, a twist on Devdas. Dev’s passivity, his lack of ability to do anything definite, is what let Paro slip away from him.

            On Mon, Mar 12, 2018 at 9:55 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Devdas was an out and out asshole. I think we underestimate his assholeness because his role was always played by the top heroes. Only Dev D showed him for the lowlife that he really was.

            Of course in comparison to AR, you can see that Chandramukhi isn’t really vital to the plot, rather she’s a hindrance since the extra character prevents us from fully exploring the problems between paro and Dev. Also, AR shows that marriage isn’t quite as set in stone as it’s made out to be. Or maybe Paro and Dev don’t really love each other at all and it’s just all very convenient for them both since neither believes in the love story strongly enough.

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          • I love how they handled the Chandramukhi-like character in this, the actress he has the fling with. She falls for him, but she is also sick of his self-indulgence and (justifiably) angry with him for treating her like that. And then she is out of his life, because that’s how break ups work, you aren’t supposed to keep hanging around and supporting the guy who isn’t that into you, you should have a big fight and realize you want different things, and then it is just over.

            On Mon, Mar 12, 2018 at 10:43 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Also, she knew exactly what she wanted from this guy. I thought that her being an actress was problematic stereotyping but then again the way they handled that character was empowering too. She too was in control of her own life and had a hell lot of agency! They didn’t even give her the nagging ambitious mother!!

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          • And she was playing herself! An actual Telugu actress playing an actress. Not that famous or anything, but still. Which adds on another interesting layer of commentary, that this film is so “real”, it exists in a world where other films are being made and are fake.

            The actress part felt like it was almost resisting stereotyping, like she is introduced as this glamorous special person and Arjun immediately starts treating her like any other patient or person. And that’s how the film treats her too, she has a big house and bodyguards, but she is also capable of falling in love and getting angry and everything else. Most of their affair would have happened the same way if he had tried this sort of relationship with one of his nurses. The film is saying “no, we aren’t doing Chandramukhi and the beautiful fantasy woman, we are doing a real person whose job happens to be acting.” Plus of course the plot point of Preethi knowing about the affair because she was famous enough for it to be reported.

            On Mon, Mar 12, 2018 at 11:02 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • It did feel slightly underplayed thought. A scene where the paps catch them hanging out together and that picture making it to front pages would have been super realistic. Because every time a single south actor gets caught hanging out with a person of the opposite sex, the media immediately starts spreading wedding rumors for them incessantly!

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