By Mahima Nandakumar
It is not the first time that a South Indian film is getting remade into other languages, especially if the film has achieved an unprecedented success with a debutant filmmaker and a (then) non-star hero. The crowd that rushed into theaters to watch ‘Arjun Reddy’ despite it being certified with an ‘A’ can easily green-light some prominent proposals for remakes. The first ‘second version’ was from the director Sandeep Reddy Vanga himself, this year’s blockbuster, ‘Kabir Singh’. We will also be witnessing a superstar’s son debuting with the same subject as ‘Aditya Varma’. Now this wouldn’t be a big surprise because, as mentioned before, it’s not the first time this is happening but what’s surprising is that neither of the first two have had a quiet release; the bigger the scale of the movie, the bigger the controversy and still, we are getting a third edition of Arjun Reddy! Don’t worry, this isn’t another roast-review of these films but we are here to look at what makes this particular story so appealing among the masses, the question here is not ‘whether the movie is morally right or wrong’ but ‘whatever it is, why is it so compelling?’.
Every story’s hero and villain are decided by it’s narrative, it depends on whose side of the story the filmmaker is presenting in front of the audience. Arjun’s life, from the time we see it, boils down to one relationship – his relationship with Preeti. The makers have used every technique to make the romance look as passionate as possible, the music and the performances have helped tremendously, and this passion has managed to make the audience Arjun’s ally. It creates empathy towards the character. There are a few more characteristics that make Arjun Reddy desirable like his unapologetic personality, his unwillingness to change himself for the society, he is shown as caring and to his credit, he is sincere about his concept of love. And it is not the technical aspects we connect to but it is with the emotions, no emotion more than pain attracts us. Once the movie has shown how deeply Arjun loved Preeti, his pain becomes the viewer’s too. One thing to note here is how this is Arjun’s and Arjun’s story alone, maybe if we were shown parallels or other characters’ point of view or how they are affected by his behavior, we may have totally different results. Like aptly titled, it is Arjun Reddy and not Arjun-Preeti, the girl’s side of this world is not even promised in the first place. That is a brilliant decision while making this movie because the filmmaker can only get away with his viewers being on Arjun’s side. Basically the narrative is structured for you to like Arjun.
Thrillers and horror movies never go out of fashion because that is the only place where we are ready to put ourselves in a dangerous situation without being physically present there; those extreme moments of fright can give us a thrill we won’t experience in real life. Something similar to this is true with our movie of discussion too. Arjun Reddy is on extremes if every emotion and everything he does. To a normal person, it is almost impossible to lead a life as his and that makes watching him do these things exciting. When he acts like the rebel he is, it is the reflection of what many of us want to be but can never be. When movies present it’s audience with situations that are ‘uniquely familiar’ it pulls crowd, the premise might be familiar that can provide a bit of comfort and still is uniquely presented. Love it or not, one can’t ignore the fact that this screenplay had some never seen before moments in it. Also it overturned expectations with a happy ending. Traveling in the shoes of Arjun Reddy, even after all that suffering, ends up being a satisfying experience.
A well written love story will work any day, now whether you fall on the side where Arjun/Kabir is called a glorified misogynist or on the side where he is hailed as a great lover is your problem. But the box-office numbers and the upcoming remakes show that the movies have worked pretty well. Vijay Deverakonda’s rise to stardom is another evidence to the movie’s success. Yet, by the end of the day, it is about the story; no matter what the hero’s behavior or the lack of heroine’s point of view says, but if the emotions make it’s way to the hearts – the movie works. Cinema definitely has a responsibility towards the society and every conversation movies trigger are important but it is also important to remember that it’s just a movie. It takes a lot of thinking to arrive on a conclusion whether the movie(s) sends the right message or not and that may defer with each perspective but we have tried to narrow down some elements that can be attributed to why this story managed to create the impact it did and that’s not endorsing the content but analysing it. Aditya Varma hits the screen this Friday, we can watch if the magic happens again or not, if another star takes birth from the same soil or not and of course, if the controversies follow or not!