5 South Indian films with controversial themes; From Arjun Reddy to Pawan Kalyan’s Jalsa
With Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal causing more controversy upon its OTT release, let us take a look at 5 note-worthy South Indian movies that had controversial themes.
Trigger Warning: This article includes references to sexual abuse, domestic violence, and rape and abuse.
When a film is released for public viewing, the most natural process is to cause a divide among the audience. While there have been unanimous blockbusters throughout the years, the onset of social media has led to a more divided discourse of movies between cinephiles.
While not all controversial films can be targeted as ‘Bad’ films, the regressive themes in such films stick out like a sore thumb. With Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal out on Netflix, take a look at 5 South Indian movies that have complex characters.
5 South Indian movies with controversial themes
1. Baby (2023)
The 2023 Telugu film Baby falls under the category of films that cannot be viewed through one lens. There is a cinematic side, and there is a moral side. On one hand, Baby is a well-made film, its ideas are interesting and its characters are complex. But the same film managed to generate hoots and cheers when a male character is cussing at a female character, and at the same time it evoked such an emotion of anger and disgust in an individual that he slaps a poster featuring the actress with his slippers, then can we still confidently say that “Films don’t influence society?”
2. Arjun Reddy (2017)
Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s debut directorial venture Arjun Reddy created ripples across the Telugu Film Industry. The film explored themes that directors dared to touch before. The story of a highly-skilled but alcoholic doctor Arjun Reddy, who self-destructs into chaos after his breakup with his girlfriend, Preeti. Although the film boasts of cinematic brilliance, Arjun Reddy was embroiled in controversy, with many sections of the audience criticizing Sandeep and his film for its glorification of toxic masculinity and abuse.
3. Action Hero Biju (2016)
On the surface level, Action Hero Biju is a wildly entertaining film. Unlike other cop films, Action Hero Biju presents a more realistic tale of police procedure, with some hilarious episodes. However, the movie did spark mild controversy for some of its scenes. In one such scene, the protagonist of the film Biju condemns an auto driver for falling in love with a dark-skinned, fat woman, questioning his life choices. But it is arguable whether Action Hero Biju is a meta film that was made with the sole intention of highlighting such themes.
4. Jalsa (2008)
I remember watching Jalsa for the first time when I was a child and having a great time. A child who knew very little about what social responsibility meant. But it’s safe to say that Jalsa has not aged well one bit. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, Jalsa is still a very entertaining film and Pawan Kalyan is great to watch. But some dialogues are unforgivable in any context, but more so because these were mouthed by the protagonist of the film.
5. 7G Brindavan Colony (2004)
7G Brindavan Colony holds a special place in the hearts of many film fans. Every boy at the time dreamed of an Anitha to come and shape their lives. But it is hard to ignore some of the problematic actions of the lead character Kathir. He is shown to tease women, touch them inappropriately, and stalk them. While Kathir does get a character arc, these initial scenes are extremely unsettling to witness.
What do you think about this age-old debate of whether filmmakers should have social responsibility? Let us know.
Disclaimer: If you need support or know someone who is struggling with domestic violence or assault or abuse, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist, NGO or speak to someone about it. There are several helplines available for the same.