Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amitabh Bachchan, Nagarjuna, Mouni Roy, Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Dimple Kapadia, Rashi Mal
Director: Ayan Mukerji
I loved this film. Of course, it wasn’t flawless; but I didn’t care because it stunned and shocked me in ways that I wasn’t expecting and it was a true spectacle to behold on the big screen. It exceeded my expectations from the outset and had me wringing my hands on more than one occasion. Most importantly, it made me feel a sense of hope that lingered long after I’d left the cinema, in a way that only a really well-made fantasy action-adventure film can.
Let’s start with the obvious; the film is beautifully constructed. The special effects and stunts blow Marvel’s recent endeavours out of the water and are a clear proclamation to the world that a new generation of Indian Cinema is here to stay; one that is more than capable of competing with Hollywood on the world stage. This is especially important following on from the success of RRR in America and worldwide; it shows that RRR wasn’t a fluke — we have indeed welcomed a new age of cinema.
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Now, getting into more of the film’s details; Shah Rukh’s cameo was epic. It hadn’t been spoiled for me before I went in (an added benefit of going on opening weekend) and I was so glad for this because I was genuinely shocked that:
a) SRK was on the screen and
b) he stayed on for what seemed like a mini movie! If I knew how to whistle, I would have done so whilst he was jumping about like a monkey. By the end of his sequence, I was audibly squealing in my seat, much to my brother’s dismay — but that is the effect SRK has on people!
The music: all of the songs were just amazing; they fit nicely within the film and were beautifully composed, hardly surprising given that Pritam and Amitabh Bhattacharya were behind the music and lyrics. I never found the background score to be overpowering, which is often the worry in Hindi films like this, and a special shout-out must be given to the cinematography for Ranbir’s introductory song.
The Dusshera number is Bhansali-like in its gorgeousness on screen; it may not have been perfectly symmetrical, but it was stunning nonetheless. I knew as I was walking out of the theatre that Deva was going to be stuck in my head for a while, and I was right. It’s been over a week since I saw the film and it is still the first song I put on in the morning to get me out of bed.
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In terms of the acting; everyone was good, and in a film like this, if even one person isn’t good -they stand out like a sore thumb.
Alia and Ranbir are widely considered to be amongst, if not the, best actors of their generation, and obviously there is never any doubt that Amit Ji will bring it, so it is hardly surprising that the acting was on point.
This was one of those films where my whole family was smiling while walking out of the theatre. Surprisingly, even my hard-to-impress teenage brother loved it, and he definitely doesn’t like all Hindi films. Although it is being said that children are enjoying the film more than adults, my parents loved it as much as we did — even my dad, who really has to be pushed to watch a fantasy film, and usually proceeds to fall asleep during half of them. I remember all four of us came outside during the interval, my brother buzzing about how epic this is, and we agreed that it didn’t even feel like we’re watching an Indian film.
Of course, while the artistry and VFX seem foreign, the subtext and cultural/religious references are very much Indian - and this is probably why it is doing well in India, as well as abroad. Although some of the Astras they were talking about seemed a bit questionable, rooting the story in the very mythology that most of the sub-continent has grown up hearing was a stroke of genius.
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To conclude, ‘Brahmastra’ is a true labour of love and I think Ayan and the team should be extremely proud of what they have achieved.