Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Mouni Roy, Nagarjuna Akkineni
Directed by: Ayan Mukerji
Duration: 166 minutes
Unaware of the forces that govern the world, Shiva takes it upon himself to uncover his mysterious connection with the element fire. But his world starts crumbling as he gets closer to the truth, making him question if he is drawn towards light or pulled away by the darkness.
Amitabh Bachchan steals the show in the second half. The actor never misses delivering gems after gems. He has got a good handle on his role. He acts as the wise mentor in the film, making the characters realize their true potential. This trope can easily come off as corny and unoriginal but thanks to the clear writing and Bachchan sir's powerful performance, this role is effective.
Ranbir Kapoor provokes emotion through his portrayal of Shiva. He is in his element generating fiery moments in the film. Ranbir Kapoor is the master of underdog films, he delivers a layered performance once again. The character's scope is imaginative and innovative, one which requires a lot of dedication, and Ranbir Kapoor appears to be fully committed to his part.
Alia Bhatt is the pulse of the film and executes her role neatly. Her focus is sharp, she slips into the role bringing in her charm. All the moments shared with other characters are organic. This year alone we saw Alia in four distinct roles, she aced it.
Mouni Roy is a capable performer leading as an antagonist in a fine form. Supreme confidence with incredible capacity. The first half gives her good establishment and the second bestows her the space to portray her capabilities which she conjures well.
Nagarjuna Akkineni is at his best delivering a stellar performance. He plays an important piece in this grand scheme of things, an actor of his caliber is expected to perform to his best and he ends up outdoing the expectations. There is one important scene in the movie that ends up being one of the best scenes in the movie, Nagarjuna Akkineni has pushed the envelope making Brahmāstra even better than it already was!
How eager Ayan was to present this film but how patient he had been given everything. The director's vision is star-tlingly clear. Due to Ayan Mukerji's commitment to the project, this fantasy drama doesn't end up in the category of vast but clouded scope. Brahmāstra hits the 166-minute mark but at no point, the story appears to be dragging on. The bridge between conceptualization and execution can be shaky, fantasy genre can look great on paper and then not live up to the words, Thankfully Brahmāstra lives up to all the long-standing promises and grand expectations. The story of Brahmāstra emphasizes on the light that shuns the darkness, behind the camera Ayan Mukerji is the light that guides the film home.
Brahmāstra is a technically sound film. Brahmāstra has mastered all techniques of instilling curiosity in the audience. V. Manikandan, Pankaj Kumar, Sudeep Chatterjee, Vikash Nowlakha, and Patrick Duroux will leave the audiences in wonder with Brahmāstra's technical prowess. Brahmāstra's cinematic experience is immersive and hypnotic. The striking visuals blend in effortlessly with the story.
How Kesariya was shot is intriguing to witness on the big screen, characters slipping from ingenuity to sensibility, how they are perceived versus what they are comprehending provided a good experience. Even introductory shots were immersive, Ranbir Kapoor making his way through the crowd, Alia Bhatt slowly appearing in the focus, Amitabh Bachchan cementing the conflict with his introductory shot — all well done. Even the prime focus of the movie, 'light' is used like a character, and the correlation made with fire is visually pleasing to see.
The film score is by Simon Franglen, and Pritam has composed the soundtrack, The songs are written by Steel Banglez with lyrics penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya, Chandrabose, Madhan Karky,Yogaraj Bhat, Hridaya Shiva, and Shabareesh Varma. Brahmāstra has set the atmosphere and objective of a particular scene by employing a powerful soundtrack.
Arijit Singh lent the voice for Dance Ka Bhoot, an upbeat and refreshing song. Deva Deva sung by Arijit Singh and Jonita Gandhiis tuneful and distinct, The music is in sync with Shiva's journey. All the poignant moments of this journey are reflected through this piece; the quest and theme of Brahmāstra are tackled with Deva Deva. Finally, Kesariya by Arijit Singh is easily the most beautiful part of this film.
Not always dialogues are needed to showcase storylines. Using music for sequences to happen in quick succession curtails the duration and keeps the viewers engrossed. Kesariya is etched in our minds making us root for the characters and their adventure without disconnecting from the story.
Set design and plot setting.
Props to the entire team of Brahmāstra for orchestrating an entire world that conveys the themes of the film. Brahmāstra is shot in Bulgaria, London, New York, Edinburgh, Thailand, Manali, Mumbai, and Varanasi. The world of Brahmāstra has a magic system, a divide between good and evil, and a well-developed setting. The outdoorsy nature of Brahmāstra gives rise to riveting moments in the film, it is fascinating.
Due to these technical elements, Brahmāstra appears to be a sneak peek into someone's dream—vibrant colors, tuneful music, and a breathtakingly clear world.
The two focal genres of Brahmāstra are fantasy and romance. The fantasy genre clearly has the upper hand as the world introduced to us is riveting and mysterious. Brahmāstra is stellar when the genre of fantasy is in the driving seat, The themes of Good vs. evil, Man vs. nature, and the hero's journey for knowledge are not compromised at all.
As for the romance genre, there are a few conditions applied. Love at first sight, instant love, two people becoming each other's ride or die when they barely know each other and proclaiming undying love after every quarter of the movie might not be to everyone's taste. Moreover (not a spoiler) even in the trailer and in the movie two characters becoming attracted to one another only because their names compliment each other seems vague.
The benefit of the doubt, since Brahmāstra is inspired by Indian mythology there is bound to be some pre-established messaging but still, it would be better if Isha and Shiva's love story was more organic and had a slow burn effect. No doubt the leads have intense chemistry but we needed more moments of Isha and Shiv before the grand gestures and proclamations, moments that made their love story more believable.
Again, No denying that the dialogues, especially the fluffy ones, are corny, even some of the ones that are intended to be serious can come off as preachy. But some are pleasant to hear and some will invite hooting from the masses. The dialogues, therefore, are inconsistent. It is tough to strike a balance between characters believing their own fate and giving a reaction that perhaps a spectator would give to these extraordinary conditions vs believing even the most unfathomable thing without a shadow of a doubt.
Characterization and world-building.
Ayan Mukerji gives a set of characters with distinct voices and perspectives. It doesn't fail to strike a chord with the audience. Each character has its own specific desires, battles, and trajectory. They are connected by a larger theme and yet the dynamic characters have a different take on the same conflict. Till now Ayan Mukerji movies were primarily focused on the character’s storyline, this too is not entirely different but the world and setting is also a character in this movie. This means that the setting and background have certain traits that bring out characters' personalities and impact the way characters correspond to each other.
The world building is rich. The film takes place through the microscopic lens of nature, characters, cultures, and mythological societies. A dangerous quest and mythical creatures that are tied by magical forces in a world away from the real world are intriguing to witness. We aren't abruptly introduced to the world of Brahmāstra instead we slowly transport to this immersive fantasy.
Final thoughts - Watch or skip?
This is not a slice-of-life film, this is a fantasy drama. The conditions will be extraordinary and the characters will be far from reality. So don't watch it from a lens of prejudice instead trust Ayan Mukerji's vision because he won't let you down. Since Bollywood has become a genre over the years, Brahmāstra is Bollywood done right. With the larger-than-life situations, heroic tales, characters breaking into songs, and a mysterious fictional verse everything that could go wrong goes perfectly fine. There are few flaws and there are many incredible merits. Watch this film in the theatre or don't bother at all. This movie is tailor-made for a theatrical experience, one which accounts for magnificent moments.