#MenToo: A crass, frivolous interpretation of a serious issue

The storytelling in #MenToo wears a smirk right through. The women are broad caricatures of feminism, with evil written on their scheming faces

#MenToo poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)
#MenToo poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)

Subhash K Jha

#MenToo (Language: Telugu, streaming on Aha)

Rating: *

Somewhere deep inside this silly hodgepodge of misplaced activism and unrestrained rowdyism, there is a good story about what happens when men are victims of sexual harassment. Maybe, that sensitive story, some other time.

#MenToo is hideously problematic from the word go. There is a lone man Aditya (Naresh Agastya) in a sales team of women who leer and sneer at  him. They even check out his butt. Male clients don’t want to entertain Aditya’s business proposals. He is a man, you see.

Men being harassed is not an issue taken seriously in our country. This  film does no service to the #MenToo movement, if we can call it a movement.

The script screams for attention. But does little to earn our attention. The characters are all uniformly unidimensional: the women (except one of the heroes' mother) are bullies and vixens. The men are smirking, sarcastic and misogynists. They don’t even pretend to be anything else.

The very dangerous premise that the film seems to flaunt is that it’s okay for men to be misogynistic since women deserve it.

The only point in the plot where writer-director Srikanth G Reddy skirts sensitivity is in showcasing the plight of Rahul (Harsha Chemadu) who is wrongly accused of sexual harassment by a jealous female colleague. Rahul loses his job, dignity and commits suicide.

The problem in #MenToo is not one of authenticity, but one of execution. The storytelling wears a smirk right through. The women are broad caricatures of feminism, with evil written on their scheming faces. A female standup comedian who has her boyfriend Sanju (Kaushik Ghantasala) by his jowls, takes great pleasure in reminding us that many of women’s problems like menstruation have men in it.

Sanju’s girlfriend’s maltreatment reminds one of Kartik Aaryan being bullied by his girl in Pyaar Ka Punchnaama, another movie guilty of  misogyny but not as blatantly as this one.

Reddy pulls out all stops to demonise the female sex. In doing so, the film misses one vital aspect of gender politics. It’s not women who are the  villains. It’s the rules of patriarchal society that have engendered a sense  of inequality between the two genders for generations.

In this reprehensible film, jokes are made around women who carry pepper sprays on the streets to fob off unwanted attention. Has the  director read up the rape statistics of the country before embarking on this obstreperous pilgrimage into misogyny?

In the quest of quickfix justice #MenToo swerves the other way , grotesquely portraying women as predators and exploiters while the men huddle together in a bar named, Stags Only horsing around, abusing women and venting off steam singing and dancing until justice arrives.

If this is the solution to the lopsided gender politics of the country, then we have a lot to worry about.

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