Director Puri Jagannath is laughing all the way to the bank even as his obnoxious, deeply offensive, gender-prejudiced new Telugu film, iSmart Shankar is raking in all the box-office moolah.
However, the film hits rock bottom of the creative barrel, churning out the kind of toxic garbage that one thought Indian cinema had dispensed with. But then you have misogynistic type of filmmakers like Puri, who stop at nothing to provide the proverbial ‘frontbenchers’ with the cheap thrills that they are looking for outside their homes.
It would probably be safe to classify iSmart Shankar as commercial Telugu cinema’s equivalent of pornography. Women are treated as playthings to be enjoyed and abused as and when the great ‘hero’ wishes. And it appears men in the audience especially love it when the hero shouts at the heroine as though she is his slave.
There are numerous sequences in the film where the heroine is manhandled and heckled, which going by the count, seems to be a ‘manly’ thing to do in Puri Jagannath’s kingdom of cinematic thrills.
But the one sequence that is indigestible (among others) is the one where Shankar (Ram Pothineni) barges in on the heroine Nabha Natesh, who nasal flaring, calls the cops on him. However, by the time they arrive, she has changed her mind and fallen in love with her harasser!
Talk about a satire on the #MeToo movement. The director seems to be under the rampant delusion that women like to be heckled, accosted, harassed and manhandled at every given opportunity.
Tragically, going by the box-office collections of iSmart Shankar, the movie-going audiences seem to be convinced of Puri’s thesis on gender dynamics. Forget empowerment, even basic respect appears lacking in our cinema today.