Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao
Aamir Khan and Kiran RaoKoffee with Karan

Aamir Khan, his ex-wife Kiran Rao and Animal director Sandeep Reddy Vanga are currently involved in a heated exchange of words centred around Aamir Khan. The entire fiasco began when the director dug out an old statement of Kiran Rao, criticizing certain films for blurring the line between stalking and wooing. "This morning, my assistant director showed me an article. It's from the second ex-wife of a superstar. She's saying that films like Bahubali 2 and Kabir Singh promote misogyny and stalking. I believe she doesn't understand the distinction between stalking and approaching. When these statements are taken out of context, people tend to agree. This is completely incorrect" Sandeep was quoted saying.

The director defended a serious concern through whataboutery by bringing up Aamir Khan's 1990 film Dil. "I would like to say to that woman, 'Go ask Aamir Khan, 'Is she like a pillar, a girl, or a firecracker?' What was that?" Then come back to me. If you remember Dil, he almost creates the situation towards an attempted rape, and it makes her realise that she was wrong. She ultimately falls in love. What is all this?) I don't understand why they attack like that before checking the surroundings," he argued.

So what was Kiran Rao's original statement? In November 2023, Kiran Rao discussed the need for gender sensitization during a session. She referred to a Tata Institute of Social Sciences report that highlighted "stalking as one of the most glorified forms of wooing a woman" in successful films like Kabir Singh. She also mentioned Baahubali: The Beginning, describing it as a fascinating film. She pointed out a scene where a woman starts as a warrior but is later reduced to a romantic interest by the hero, which she found intriguing.

After the director's remark, netizens dug out an old interview of Aamir, where he apologised for Dil and the Khambe Jaisi Khadi Hai song. " I am very ashamed of it," he said. A Twitterati also tagged Sandeep in the video and asked whether he would do the same for objectifying women in his films.

Soon Kiran also fired back against the director's statement. "There are very few people who would look back at their body of work and apologise for doing something problematic in retrospect and that's laudable," she said, adding that if the Animal director had something to say to Aamir Khan, he should do so directly: "If Mr Vanga has something to tell Aamir, he should tell him man to man." She further clarified that the inclusion of Kabir Singh as an example of screen misogyny was part of a general criticism of the way women are depicted in Bollywood and that she had not seen his works. "I have never commented on Mr Sandeep's films because I have never seen them. I have often spoken on misogyny and the representation of women on screen. I have talked about it on various platforms at various times. But I have never taken the name of any film because it is not about the specific film. Why Mr Vanga has assumed that I was talking about his film you'll have to ask him. I have never seen his film," she concluded.

And when we thought that the story was over, the director posted a reply on their Twitter account. It reads, "We neither our director Sandeep Reddy Vanga are making any assumptions Ms Kiran Rao. It is a fact reported by a very big media channel." However, the tweet has now been deleted.