Following director-producer Kiran Rao's criticism of the Hindi film Kabir Singh (2019) for its portrayal of misogyny, Sandeep Reddy Vanga has hit back by bringing up the 1990 film Dil, starring Kiran’s ex-husband Aamir Khan. This comes at a time when Sandeep, who directed and co-produced Kabir Singh, is being criticised for similar violence, misogyny, and hypermasculinity in his very recent Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Animal.
In the said interview with The Times of India in November 2023, Kiran Rao discussed the glorification of stalking in Bollywood films, specifically mentioning Kabir Singh and SS Rajamouli's Baahubali. Kiran said that stalking is one of the most glorified forms of wooing a woman in films and films like that do exceedingly well, citing research by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. She said Baahubali had a strong female character in the beginning but she was reduced only into a romantic interest by the end of the film. Despite the questionable messaging, she found it fascinating that the film achieved considerable success, highlighting the industry's focus on box office performance and the ability of such films to attract audiences.
Indirectly referring to Kiran as a “superstar’s second ex-wife”, in an interview with Dainik Bhaskar, Sandeep brought up Aamir Khan's film Dil where Aamir’s character threatens Madhuri Dixit's character with rape, leading to the formation of a romantic relationship between them.
Sandeep said, "Some people don't understand what they are saying. One assistant director showed me the article from this superstar’s second ex-wife where she was saying that Baahubali and Kabir Singh promote misogyny, and stalking. I think she doesn’t understand the difference between stalking and approaching.”
He further referred to the song "Khambe jaisi khadi hai” from Aamir’s Dil and said, “I want to tell that woman that go and ask Aamir Khan about the song ‘Khambe jaisi khadi hai’, what was that? Then come back to me. If you remember Dil, he almost attempts rape, he makes her feel like she has done the wrong thing. And they fall in love after that. What was all that? I don’t understand why they attack like that before checking the surroundings.”
Kiran Rao is not the first to criticise Sandeep’s films for their sexism. Sandeep had previously justified intimate partner violence in Kabir Singh by saying that if partners cannot slap each other, there is no love between them. This led to widespread criticism against his glorification of gender-based violence, and his recent film Animal too was called out for the same kind of sexism and hypermasculinity, which he arrogantly claimed was an “answer to those who previously criticised Kabir Singh.” The film was given an ‘A’ certification for its violence.