A couple weeks ago, my family and I went to the theatre to watch a Telugu film, called Pushpa. Before the movie released, the song ‘Oo Antava Oo Antava’ (linked above) was released.
First off, Actress Samantha looks absolutely breathtaking in the song as she slays the moves and adds the right amount of attitude to keep up with the lyrics.
A week after we watched the movie, one of my aunts told me that there has been a lot of controversy over this one song from the film. Supposedly, men were offended by the lyrics and a Men’s Association even “filed a lawsuit against the makers of Pushpa and also filed a complaint against them for portraying men in a certain light.”
Let’s Talk About the Lyrics
I’m going to breakdown some of the lyrics from this song on the left-hand side of a table, and I’ll breakdown another popular Telugu song (that wasn’t opposed against) on the right-hand side.
‘Oo Antava Oo Antava’ (received a ton of backlash from men for describing the ‘male gaze’)
Potti potti gowney vesthey Patti patti choostharu
When she wears short clothes, They’ll [men] drool all over them [women]
Mee kallallone anthaa undhi
Mee maga buddhe vankara buddhi
Your [men] eyes say it all. The male mentality is a twisted mentality
Thella thellagunte okadu
Nalla nallagunte okadu
Telupu nalupu kaadhu meeku
Rangutho pani yemundhi
Sandhu dorikindhante saalu
Mee maga buddhey vankara buddhi
When she’s fair-skinned, One man is mesmerized. When she’s dark-skinned, Another man goes crazy. It doesn’t matter if she’s fair or dark, They [men] just need a chance. The male mentality is a twisted mentality.
‘Ninne Ninne’ (received no backlash from men for sexualizing a woman)
Before breaking down some lyrics, let’s analyze the scene that comes before the song.
Notice at 1:26, when the girl asks “Do you love my heart or my body?” the guy immediately responds “the body because I don’t know your heart. You look gorgeous; a great smile, a fantastic skin tone. That’s all I need.”
The girl tries to make him understand that our bodies should not define us and we are so much more than that. To that, the man vulgarly asks (at 2:26) “Will you have sex with me tonight?” to taunt the girl’s previous statement. He then breaks out into a song that essentially stalks the girl and sexualizes her body.
Devudichina andalu ayyo papam paruvalu
Cheyyamake matti paalu chuttukuntay papalu
Nuvvu leka ne lene ninnu vidichi polene
Neellu leni bavilona duki nenu chasthane
Inave nuv inave ose inave ehe inave..
Ninne ninne.. Ninne ninne… Ninne ninne… Ninne…
God has given you so much beauty, and yet you’re still a virgin. Don’t waste that beauty; you’ll become a sinner. I’m nothing without you; I can’t leave you. I’ll jump in a well without water, Listen to me, hey! Listen to me!
Note: There is a clear portrayal of sexism in both songs. In ‘Oo Antava Oo Antava,’ there’s a classic depiction of “men leering at a woman as she sways, slides and drapes herself over the hero, while a camera constantly cuts to bared bits of her body.” In ‘Ninne Ninne’ the man is aggressively yelling and, at one point even, pretends to hit the woman (4:00). Oh and let’s not forget him blackmailing the girl that he’ll essentially kill himself (i.e. “I’ll jump in a well without water”).
‘Oo Antava Oo Antava’ targets men for treating women the way they do; whereas, ‘Ninne Ninne’ is targeting women for not succumbing to the man stalking, verbally abusing, and sexualizing her. Despite this irony, the former song is the one that received so much backlash. Do we see how this is a clear problem?
Many men were supposedly offended that they were depicted as such people, leading to many to use the impeccable phrase “Not all men are like that.”
- “So #NotAllMen doesn’t clarify anything. It doesn’t add to the discussion or develop it in any way. All it does is derail and dismiss the lived experiences of women and girls. And what the men who leap to remind us that ‘’not all men are like that’’, are actually saying is, ‘’I’m not like that.’’ Or to put it another way, they are letting women know that discussing misogyny makes them uncomfortable, and they’d like to be absolved of any blame before they will let women continue.
- If you are a man and don’t recognise yourself in the behaviour described by women recently, then great. Our discussion of it shouldn’t offend you, or put you on edge. The men who are behaving like allies in this are the ones that are amplifying women’s voices, examining their own behaviour, and not drowning out our conversations in search of praise or validation.” – Medium
A woman is allowed to wear whatever she wants, dance in whatever way she wants, and look the way she wants.
Many aunties and grandmas I know have said “I don’t like how vulgar Samantha looks in that song” or “Why is she wearing that, exposing all of her body like that?”
It’s 2022 people; get over it!
If it’s okay for you to watch men, like Salman Khan, dance shirtless, then it is equally okay for a woman, like Samantha, to wear what she’s wearing and absolutely slay on screen!
It’s not okay, however, that men are seldom sexualized or taunted for wearing or looking the way they do, whereas women are constantly sexualized for doing the same exact freaking thing.
The point of this long-winded post was:
- The male ego got super butt hurt after ‘Oo Antava Oo Antava’ was released because it explicitly called men out on their behaviors.
- Create songs that don’t sexualize women. People fantasize and imbibe what they see on screen, especially in India, since the celebrity craze is extra hyped. Therefore, it’s crucial to send the correct messages through these films.
- Samantha is a freaking queen and should not be criticized for wearing what she wore and looking the way she did in the song.