A Visual Spectacle woven with fragility – Brahmastra Critical Film Review
The much awaited film of the year, and a product of a tentative 8-10 years of sweat and toil, Brahmastra hit the box office on September 9th. Although the screens are packed with a huge amount of populace, the content of the film fails to speak for itself.
Written and Directed by one of the contemporaries of our times, it is surprising as to how the screenplay seems to bring back references to one of those 1990s films with unsavory writing.
The film begins with grandeur and pomp as in the case of every film that is produced under the banner of Dharma. Although one might expect the story to start, one doesn’t really know when it has begun because it fails to grasp attention, at least narrative wise. It is only with the help of visual splendor that the makers restrain the audience from getting up from their seats.
To describe the plot, the film is simply about the protagonist, Shiva(Ranbir Kapoor) who possesses an absurd cosmic energy(his resistance to fire) that he is aware of but fails to acknowledge. He has flashes of incidents that only he among others from the “Astraverse” can visualize. Within these flashes he comes across ‘Junoon’(Mouni Roy) who is in full swing trying to capture the lord of the arms, the “BRAHMASTRA”. She captures the first piece from ‘The Scientist’ who possesses the Vanarastra but falls short in combating Junoon. The much talked about Cameo of the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan was worth the first 10 minutes of the film.
Shiva is a DJ who falls head over heels in love with Isha(Alia Bhatt), his “button” to channelize his energy. Isha, who is a NRI, decides to help Shiva(out of nowhere) save Junoon’s next target, the Artist (Nagarjuna Akkineni) who is based in Varanasi; the very place that glamorizes the love affair of the two with the exceptionally trending song Kesariya. In their pursuit of saving the Artist, they endanger him to be attacked by
Junoon and his ‘Nand-astra’ is taken into custody by one of his attackers. He dies in his fight with Junoon, who is supremely powerful now that she possesses two of the three parts of the Brahmastra that apparently looks round, or the way Shiva has described it; like a pizza.
Shiva and Isha land in Guru’s(Amitabh Bachhan) refuge who tells Shiva that he is related to this astraverse (and is in possession of the Agni- astra(weapon of fire)) and so were his parents, the very reason why he would not be able to untie himself from these energies even if he wanted to. He goes through a rigorous training period trying to cultivate and nurture his powers but they don’t seem to last. No one knows if that was because he didn’t have a “kick” or his “chick” Isha who had gone back home to bring any last remains of Shiva’s mother from his orphanage.
Yes, Shiva is an orphan who still stays on the top floor of the building with ultra smart Gen Z kids who talk with full “swag” which feels unpalatable when it begins to recur. Coming back, Junoon is now in hunt for the third broken piece of the Brahmastra, which is within the conch shell that Shiva’s mother Amrita had left in disguise. Shiva is the kid of Amrita(possessing Jal-astra) and Deva(possessor of Agni-astra). The joining of all the pieces of the Brahmastra would cause havoc in the mortal world for the magnitude of its energy would ravage the existence of humankind. However, at the end, it is realized that the only power that could resist that of the Brahmastra would be that of love, with which Shiva, not only saves the life of his love but of his Guru, and the whole of the existing civilization.
The musical score is no different from Pritam’s other compositions but continues to groove us with its peppy beats. The second half, heavy on effects keeps one’s mind distracted from the actual story but coming back to it, the film leaves us with something to look forward to with the introduction of a character that is yet to be explored. The strenuous post-production process and elaborate deliberation on it is in effect, evident in the film as it has succeeded in creating the impact, without a doubt.
The actors have done a decent job but Mouni Roy deserves a special mention for not overdoing her part to the least. Although the performances seem mundane and repetitive, there wasn’t much scope for them to do as their roles were written prosaically with no gripping character arc or emotional connect. The trajectory of Shiva’s life or his journey seems too frail and doesn’t hook one to their seats. The only connection that forms is visual and hence deserves a watch. The film had scopes of doing much better with regards to narrative and could tie the ends that now seem loose. The film is an ocular spectacle woven with fragility. Since Writer/Director Ayan Mukerji, has announced that its a trilogy, one may hope on watching and gauging the reactions, the following parts would be articulated better. Brahmastra is a commendable effort on the part of Indian Cinema with regards to its visual and auditory treatment and triumphs the cause of making it a grand theatrical experience.
Review by – Subhangi Ray