Released on 1 December 2023, “Animal” has already become one of the highest-grossing Indian films ever, despite boasting an A-rating (India’s version of R-rated). During its debut weekend, “Animal” became the top-grossing film in the world, beating the likes of “Napoleon” and “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.” According to T-Series Films, the studio behind “Animal,” is a global phenomenon that boasts a global box office haul of about $100 million. The controversial Bollywood film is even making waves domestically, with stateside receipts of $12 million to date.
What makes these numbers particularly impressive is how deeply rooted the film has been in controversy from both Indian and Western critics and cinephiles. Film Companion’s Anupama Chopra, one of the most prolific voices in Indian film criticism, lambasted “Animal” in her overwhelmingly negative review. “A story which is cheerfully misogynistic, morally bankrupt and stomach-churningly violent,” Chopra said, adding, “All of which I could have endured if the drama and emotions had held.” Chopra’s review has proven to be both controversial and affirming. Take a look at the YouTube comments section, and you’ll find viewers arguing both passionately for and against the critic’s assessment.
Most critics have deemed “Animal” as overwhelmingly misogynistic and derogatory, criticizing the film for its poor treatment of women and gratuitous, self-indulgent violence. While the film does confront heavy themes, some think that the film glamorizes and advocates the actions of its lead protagonist. “The movie feels like 16 year old boy’s fever dream and hearing the audiences cheer and then looking up to see more gore and sex is deeply disappointing,” wrote Redditor u/Regclusive in the r/BollyBlindsNGossip subreddit.