It takes a certain amount of grit to call out an actor about his misogynistic blockbuster film right to his face.
South Indian actress Parvathy Thiruvothu — who has acted in films including acid attack survivor tale ‘Uyire’ and Bollywood film ‘Qarib Qarib Single’ — did just that last weekend.
She was part of a group interview moderated by journalist Anupama Chopra along with some of the Indian film industry’s brightest stars including Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh and Telugu actor Vijay Deverakonda.
Deverakonda had to face Parvathy’s clinical examination of ‘Arjun Reddy’, his toxic love story that spawned the Bollywood hit ‘Kabir Singh’.
“It is a very fine line reflecting what’s there in the society, showing what misogyny is, and glorifying it. It’s entirely up to the writer and director how they glorify it,” Parvathy said. “When a man is being misogynistic and is being...you know...abusive, and you show that in a way that incites applause in the audience, then that’s glorification. And at the same time, you make the audience think whether he’s done the right thing or not, then there you are collaborating with the audience. There, there is cinema, it’s a dialogue.” She went onto add that the movie glorified abuse in a relationship.
“If you’re saying that there’s no passion in a relationship without slapping each other — and I see the comments on YouTube, where people are engaging and resonating with that — you are engaging with the wrong thing in a massive, mob-like manner, where you’re inciting violence,” added Parvathy, alluding to ‘Arjun Reddy’ and ‘Kabir Singh’ director Sandeep Vanga Reddy’s explosive comments normalising physical abuse in the name of love.
Deverakonda’s expletive-ridden response to her scathing review was that the world was messed up and that he didn’t believe that films had the power to change that status. His trite response didn’t have many takers, however, social media users have admired Parvathy’s fierce stand.
It isn’t a secret that Bollywood stars are notoriously politically correct and are averse to taking a stand on issues fearing alienation from peers and fans. But Parvathy seems to be cut from a different cloth. Adjectives such as ‘legend’ and ‘bravo’ are now floating on social media with users hailing her courage for not mincing words.
During her comments about ‘Arjun Reddy’s’ misogynistic slant, she used the word ‘bipolar behaviour’, but apologised for using it loosely when one social media user pointed out her error.
“Hi Divya! Came across this comment. Thank you! It was a wrong choice of words and I stand corrected. This is important as I myself have been trying to unlearn usages that allow using grave mental disabilities as a mere “adjective” to explain a situation,” said Parvathy. Her dignified response at being called out is now being appreciated.
“The phrase I was looking for is ‘two extremes’ of the impact of commercial success of a movie. When a movie strikes with the audience for all the right reasons and gets a mass following. And the other, when a movie connects with the audience for toxic elements and thereby,” explained Parvathy.
It isn’t the first time that this talented star has called out actors for their misogynistic films.
Malayalam idol Mammootty was called out for trivialising rape in his dialogue in the film ‘Kasaba’. He played a cop and one scene involved him threatening a female officer with rape and pregnancy because she dared oppose him in the line of duty. The scene was intended to incite claps and catcalls, and Parvathy expressed her disappointment in matinee idols stooping to say such derogatory lines in their films.