Liger combines the worst of Bollywood misogyny and Puri Jaggannath’s films

Vijay Deverakonda is a Telugu star who rose to national fame when Shahid Kapoor remade his Arjun Reddy and came up with one of his most widely criticised films– Kabir Singh. Vijay made an entry into Hindi films with Ananya Panday-starrer Liger that hit theatres on Friday. Shot in Tamil, the film is also being pegged as Ananya’s Tamil 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 filmmaker Puri Jaggannath, most of us expected the film to be misogynistic. He has previously made films such as Pokiri that was remade in Hindi as Salman Khan-starrer Wanted that took filmy misogyny to new lows in Hindi cinema.

Liger opens with an MMA match but our hero Liger (Vijay) is running on the streets, trying to save the girl he hates the most, Tania (Ananya). So, Vijay’s voiceover describes her as a ‘churail’ (witch) who has destroyed his life. What unfolds in the next two hours is how Liger preps to be an international MMA champion, the role his mom played (Balamani essayed by Ramya) and how Tania is a trigger in his success.
Vijay Deverakonda and Ananya Panday in a still from Liger. 

In the process of telling the story, Puri successfully repeats the woman-bashing and champions patriarchy, something he excels at. It begins with the heroine’s description (yes, a “churail” who entices men to deviate them from their lifes’ goals). Tania then stalks Liger as the flashbacks begin and even assaults him without making as much of an acquaintance.

Liger’s mom Balamani is no better – she warns him of the “churails” who will “wear torn midis, smile, act all foolish and then seduce him away” from his life’s goal of becoming an international champion. In fact, the two major women characters – Tania and Balamani appear as the biggest agents of misogyny.

Even a scene, perhaps intended as a counter all allegations 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 that scene with his gender politics either. Liger asks them during the fight, “Why are you beating me up, did I impregnate you and flee?”

With the likes of Puri Jaggannath and the Arjun Reddy star collaborating for the film, the misogyny was perhaps expected. The saddest part about the film is that Ramya comes across at the worst. Often, it appears, as if Rajamata Sivagami Devi was airlifted from SS Rajamouli’s Bahubali and thrown in a culturally debased set-up. She is way better an actor than what we see in Liger.

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