Vijay Deverakonda is a Telugu star who rose to national fame when Shahid Kapoor remade Arjun Reddy and produced one of his most critically acclaimed films – Kabir Singh. Vijay made an entry in Ananya Panday starrer Hindi films Liger which hit the theaters on Friday. Shot in Telugu, the film is also Ananya’s Telugu debut and is backed by Karan Johar. (Also Read: Liger movie review: Vijay Deverakonda tries hard but can’t save you from this assault on your senses)
Directed by Telugu director Puri Jaggannath, most of us expected the film to be misogynistic. He has previously done films like Pokiri which was remade in Hindi as Salman Khan starrer Wanted which took cinematic misogyny to new lows in Hindi cinema.
Liger opens with an MMA match but our hero Liger (Vijay) runs through the streets, trying to save the girl he hates the most, Tania (Ananya). Thus, Vijay’s voiceover describes her as a ‘churail’ (witch) who has ruined his life. What unfolds in the next two hours is how Liger prepares to become an international MMA champion, the role his mom (Balamani essayed by Ramya) played and how Tanya is the trigger for his success.
In the process of telling the story, Puri successfully replicates the patriarchy fighting and championing the woman, something he excels at. It begins with the description of the heroine (yes, a “churail” who tempts men to divert them from their life’s goals). Tanya then stalks Liger as the flashbacks begin and even attacks him without making much of an acquaintance.
Liger’s mum, Balamani, is no better – she warns him about the “churails” who will “wear a ripped midi, smile, act completely stupid and then lead him away” from his life’s goal of becoming an international champion . In fact, the two main female characters – Tanya and Balamani appear as the biggest agents of misogyny.
Even one scene, perhaps intended to counter all claims of misogyny, features Liger fighting a group of women who are experts in the martial arts of Krav Maga. However, Puri Jaggannath does not shy away from painting this scene with gender politics. Liger asks them during the fight, “Why are you hitting me, I cursed you and ran away?”
With Puri Jaggannath and star Arjun Reddy teaming up for the film, the misogyny was perhaps to be expected. The saddest part of the movie is that Ramya meets the worst. Often, it seems that Rajamata Sivagami Devi was flown in from SS Rajamouli’s Bahubali and dropped into a culturally degraded setting. She is a much better actress than what we see in Liger.
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