KGF Chapters 1,2 have done the unimaginable by becoming global sensations. If you’re looking to delve into Indian cinema, Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali: The Conclusion revolutionised what Indian cinema is capable of in 2015. Since then, the South Indian film industry has gained huge traction. “KGF” gives us a typical male hero story – but does it live up to the new standard? Read on to find out.
KGF is unabating in its narrative but this is not the hallmark of a good screenplay. As I dig deeper into the determinantal effects of films like “KGF” to an already disintegrating Indian society I feel disheartened. I don’t want to completely wipe off the good in this film. Frankly, though, I can only really find traces of good in the film.
The Male Hero Archetype
The loyal Indian audience is generally happy with long bouts of exposition, larger-than-life portrayals of the hero and typical masala-style storylines. But a few people are rooting for a ‘change’.
One might hope that movies with such phenomenal successes can rectify the existing ‘lack of maturity and machismo’ within the Indian film genre. Consequentially, it is disappointing to see the glorification of the ‘Hero’. Also, the inclusion of the heroine for decorative purposes is far too frequent.
The normalisation of misogyny in Indian cinema is becoming necessary. That and sexual harassment, plus the hero supremacy (which is reaching a vicious level of saturation. Honestly, it’s jarring). At least it’s better than Pushpa: The Rise Part 1… Which loses the battle even before the race began!
KGF Chapters 1,2: The Forced Love Story
In the first part of “KGF”, the hero, Rocky (played by actor Yash) falls head over heels for Reena (Srinidhi Shetty) without sharing a single conversation.
Indian cinema terms this as ‘Love at first sight’. However, I think it is the origin of a toxic relationship paradigm. It automatically puts women on the leash. Luckily, there is more to their romance in the second part of the film.
From kidnapping her to his KGF (Kolar Gold Mines) to purely get some ‘entertainment’ Rocky redefines insensitivity. Furthermore, he is the sole reason for her separation from her family. He is even projected as some kind of holy being, who wouldn’t lay his finger on Reena because they aren’t married. But, why must one sympathise with this chauvinistic hero?
At one point, Reena merely mentions how hurtful it is to be called an ‘entertainer’ to which Rocky’s face displays ‘0’ remorse.
In moments like these, you hope for an outburst from the woman but instead, the writers chose the most sane and logical path: To hide behind the veil of Stockholm Syndrome. Because a misogynistic man with no ethical values is impossible to resist.
An Imperfect Love Story
So we get to embrace a problematic love story as Reena is aching for Rocky’s unconditional love and the past, completely forgotten.
Why does Indian cinema think such lowly of women and their standards in men?
It is now widely accepted, sadly enough, that the female lead in a commercial Indian film is only a glamourous, appealing addition to satisfy the male gaze but importantly, the kind who abides to the hero’s commands without questioning his corrupt thinking. After all, a rebellious, opinionated woman who raises her voice against derogatory remarks is not only repelled by men on screen but off-screen as well!
Bollywood’s misguided portrayal of women, has been long debated with no right answers on Hindustan Times, and many other global platforms. An arrogant, narrow-minded and misogynistic hero has laid out the expectations of a woman: submissive and soft-spoken!
A Fight Scene Edit That No One Asked For
Any Indian, action film you pick and fast forward to 30 minutes, you are bound to stumble upon a car-chase sequence. Despite James Bond and John Wick franchises overdoing the car chase shots, one may not feel exhaustive since the articulate editing never makes us flinch.
But this was unfortunately not the case with KGF Chapter 2.
For starters, the background music was obnoxiously loud throughout the film. It was unbearable to a point where the dialogues couldn’t draw a connection to the soul merely because the countermelody was causing a severe headache and possible hearing losses. Yes, you heard it right, the exaggeration is justified.
Ujwal Kulkarni, a 19-year-old passionate filmmaker/editor was the director’s choice and the hand piecing KGF chapter 2 into a wholesome treat. Time.news says of Kulkarni,
“Ujwal Kulkarni is one of the most searched names on Google by Indians as the show continues to fill the KGF Chapter 2 packed audience. The scenes in KGF were edited by 19 – year – old Ujwal Kulkarni.”
But, its shortfall is noticeable when an ambitious editing style turned into an irritable action scene.
Why Slow-Mo Shots Should Meet Their Demise
Justifying the ‘Gold Digger’
The gold-digger YouTube pranks that you grew up watching push the agenda of women being the sole, living entities of lust for gold. It is deeply rooted in us to believe that no man can be in a psychotic depressed state to chase gold and it is women, the ‘weaker sex’ (as they claim) who are constantly in need of monetary dependency.
And not only should such pranks become extinct as they only seem to question the character of a woman, they are also myths to be debunked.
Even men can be money mongrels with a large appetite for the notes, but their intentions are never questioned.
Rocky Bhai’s character is a classic example of this.
He is relentless when it comes to extracting the gold and puts his men on a 24 x 7 work-clock, while he continues to live in a luxurious mansion. In KGF chapter 1, the very people working on Rocky’s commands in the second part were adhering to the late-villain, Garuda until Rocky emerged as the superior force who saved them from such inhumane atrocities. While Garuda was seen disregarding the life of the commoners to extract gold, Rocky in chapter 2 is enforcing the same policies, how is his leadership any different? The irony is laughable!
The icing on the cake is when confronted on his actions, he discloses an ambition of merely fulfilling his late mother’s wishes to become the world’s-richest man to live. And his reasoning lacks authenticity and you can’t seem to connect with this emotional angle. But, because we are not programmed to a sinful hero whose dreams are linked to money, we fail to spot the obvious.
He is so hell-bent on completing his dead mother’s wishes, like an evil genie-in-a-bottle come to life, he destroys an entire police station for confiscating one bar of gold. A violent streak and retaliation, don’t you think?
No Hope for the Leading Women
The treatment of women in Indian cinema has always been questionable. The ‘damsel in distress‘ portrayal only seems to be growing from one movie to another with no foreseeable end to it. While a handful of movies are daring to venture out of this stereotype, they seem to be lost in the publicity of the male stars and directors who continue to proactively lay out the template for an ‘ideal’ women.
If we are lucky enough to receive a movie that gives an important role to a woman, they are more likely to be victims avenging their perpetrators. Martyrs, or those who can’t stand the success of their own kind. Such films have been termed as – ‘women-centric’ or a niche. Another reason why women-lead films don’t taste success? They are only a slight deviation from the typical, hero oriented films.
The burning question that needs to be dissected is, ‘Why are roles assigned for women dictated to revolve around men?’
The Need to Understand “No Means No!”
Just like every other commercial-hit film in India, KPG has yet another malicious take at romance. The male lead constantly stalks and pursues the leading lady, despite multiple rejections. What Indian movies fail to showcase is that a “NO” once is a “NO always”! And the sooner the Indian movie industry understands that women are masters of their own, is the day we can hope for the slightest evolution!
And once again if you didn’t question any of these infuriating stereotypes, then now is a golden hour to break free from this pigeonhole!
As I conclude this piece, a hard-hitting scene from the Bollywood feature, Pink comes to mind. Watch as the lawyer fights for the rights of women; emphasising that a no from a woman implies no and nothing more. It’s nice to see a MAN put the point across.
Why are we still accepting this? Isn’t it time to unlearn everything and watch movies from the right perspective?
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