If you are a fan of pan-Indian action movies, “Veer Simha Reddy” should be your top choice today. Director Gopichand Malineni sure knows the nerve of the Indian audience and thus has created this commercially successful film. However, if you look critically at the film, it makes so little sense that you might just bash yourself for wasting two hours and forty-eight minutes of your life. Being an ‘intelligent audience’ (unlike the majority who hero-worship) in the twenty-first century, India is a tough affair. On the one hand, you have movies like “Sita Raman,” “Evaru,” “Mahanti,” and “Dhamaka,” and unfortunately, on the other, you have “Veer Simha Reddy.” The larger-than-life approach that filmmakers had adopted early in the 1980s still firmly grips today’s commercial film. The entire movie glorifies toxic family goals, toxic masculinity, and sheer misogyny. For some unknown reason, the majority of the Indian audience seems to believe these wrongdoings as “the norms of society.” However, movie preference is a very personal affair, so without wasting further time, let’s quickly go through the characters.
Balakrishna As Veer Simha Reddy
Veer Simha Reddy is a godsend human under whose rule the small village of Pulicharla in Kurnool lives a happy life. He fears no one and can take down multiple men without having a single stain on his white shirt (no dirt, no blood—the action scenes are apt for any detergent commercials). He is a righteous man who loves the people of the village like his own. He is ready to fight with ministers, too, for the sake of the people. The people of the village worship him. However, Veer Simha Reddy has an Achilles heel: his half-sister, whom he loves dearly. Veer could sacrifice his own life for his sister, but because of a minor misunderstanding, she abandons him and marries his archenemy. Ever since the nuptials, his half-sister and her husband often send men to kill Veer or plan out his murder. No matter how strong and righteous Veer is, he breaks up with his lover for no apparent reason soon after his sister leaves him. We would never know how such a selfish person could be termed as equivalent to God (however, it was probably a grand gesture on his part, like Vishma from Mahabharat; who knows!).
However, his lover was already pregnant with his child, and she went to Istanbul to spend the rest of her life. She single-handedly raised their son, Jaya Simha Reddy, and it is only when Jaya plans to get married that she contacts Veer. Veer immediately flies to Istanbul, where, unfortunately, he is murdered by his half-sister and her husband. The funniest part is that even after being stabbed multiple times, Veer could pick himself up, sit on a bench, light up his cigar, and asks his son to take him back to India and take care of his half-sister. The character is portrayed mostly as an incarnation of the Hindu god Lord Vishnu, NaraSimha. This is another prime reason why he was probably constantly treated as the Almighty.
Balakrishna As Jaya Shima Reddy
Born and brought up in a foreign land, Jaya Shima Reddy is the mirror image of his father. He fights with men and does anything to protect his mother. However, Jaya believes that a true man protects women but shouldn’t hide behind a woman. The paradoxical character falls in love with Isha (Shruti Hassan) only after his mother, Meenakshi (Honey Rose), approves of the girl. In the turn of events, we see Jaya reaching out to his father after he has been stabbed by his sister and his brother-in-law. There, he promises his dying father to take care of his aunt and bring his father back to his motherland. After coming back to Pulicharla, he learns about his father’s greatness and steps into his shoes. He fights against the evil men, mainly his uncle, to fulfill his father’s dream, which was to keep the people of the village happy (and, of course, look after his aunt).
Varalaxmi Sarathkumar As Bhanumati
The half-sister of Veer, Bhanumati, was treated as the most pampered sibling. Bhanumati was depicted as a strong woman who would never take “no” for an answer. Initially, when she was introduced, she seemed to be a tough woman who was burning with fumes of revenge. Later, when we learned the truth about her, she was typecast like any other emotionally driven woman. In most Indian films, the purpose of a woman’s life is to take care of the immediate “father figure” (father, brother, uncle, or grandfather) or her partner (husband or lover). Bhanumati is no different. Bhanumati loved her brother dearly until she held him responsible for her lover’s death. The broken heart was so revengeful that she decided to marry Veer’s archenemy. Later, when the real culprit behind her lover’s death came into the limelight (after Veer’s murder), she apologized to her entire family and took her life.
Duniya Vijay As Pratap Reddy
An obnoxious villain who personifies vileness in every way. He would murder and plunder along with his father. Not only that, he would take pride in abducting women to fulfill his father’s lust and would guard his father gallantly as he raped them. However, in a fight with Veer, he accidentally beheads his father. Ever since then, Pratap has been planning to avenge his father’s death. He was the one who killed Bhanumati’s lover. But Bhanumati was too grief-stricken to think clearly, and when she blames it on her brother Veer, she decides to marry Pratap. This gave him an added advantage. Pratap knew that Veer would never kill him for as long as Bhanumati was his wife. Thus, it never occurred to him to confess his crime to Bhanumati. Soon after Veer’s death, when Jaya took his place, he felt the need to challenge him. It is when Jaya threatens him to be a lesser man, as Pratap has always been hiding behind Bhanumati for years. This hurt Pratap’s fragile male ego, and he confessed to Bhanumati. In all the years before the death of Veer, Pratp, and Bhanumati did not have a physical relationship. But after he was challenged by Jaya, he suddenly decided to consummate his marriage after he confessed to Bhanumati. It is a longstanding practice in Indian cinema to portray villains as testosterone-driven creatures. Although Pratap was shown in a different light initially (as we did not see him eve-teasing, molesting, or forcing himself on his wife or other women), the director probably felt the dire need to typecast him to mark him as the “true villain.”
Honey Rose As Meenakshi
If you want to classify “ideal women” according to major Indian films, Meenakshi is beyond perfect. She is educated (she studied abroad), has accepted his lover’s family as her own, understands her lover’s whims, and supports him in every possible way. At the same time, she was also projected as an independent woman who could get pregnant out of wedlock and still raise the child single-handedly in a foreign land. Not just that, she is a successful businesswoman with her own chain of restaurants. But she happens to be in love forever with the father of her son. It is, however, rather strange that a woman of such a degree would advise her son to marry a random stranger. Her advice to her son would push you back a few centuries: she says that when a girl comes home for the first time, it is customary to give her gifts, so Jaya (her son) should give her his surname. In a nutshell, it feels like not enough thought was given to Meenakshi’s character.
Shruti Hassan As Isha
We already know how “masala” films work. You need to have a gorgeous woman who would wear short clothes that would lure men (well, throughout the first half of the film, you will see how Jaya’s assistant kept on commenting about her short dresses and, like a leech, ogled her). While women activists around the globe are fighting for equality, where women would not be judged by their clothing, few Indian cinemas believe objectifying women provides cinema with an extra oomph. Isha basically acts like a bimbo, and all she does is dance to some really peppy songs whose lyrics should have been properly censored. Although Isha’s father was an ally of Pratap Reddy, her character in the film was just an aid to reunite the broken family.
“Veer Simha Reddy” is a classic example of a “masala” film that is action-packed with plot twists (however trivial), beautiful locations, peppy songs, and obviously a happy ending. But the film upholds quite a lot of degraded and retarded ideas that are plaguing our society. The film raises a poignant question yet again: if this is what the audience enjoys, are we mentally prepared to live in the 21st century?