Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amitabh Bachchan, Nagarjuna
Written & Directed by Ayan Mukerji
We meet Shiva a happy-go-lucky avatar(the gait in Ranbir’s steps just can’t wait , the ringing of the temple bells sounds like anklets worn by prancing belles) of Anil Kapoor’s Mr India who has a chance encounter with Isha(Alia Bhatt) and….well, Shiva’s life changes.
The nonstop adventure that takes Shiva on a Bharat Darshan starts in Kolkata and ends in never-never land with a stopovers in PM Modiji’s Varanasi and Kangnaji’s Himachal Pradesh. There is a breathless anxious excitement to the storytelling, almost like a beat-based dance song by R D Burman whose picture Shiva has on his wall.
The actors go with the flamboyant mood of the proceedings. Ranbir Kapoor , always a portrait of restraint, lets himself go. He’s never been more over-the-top. One minute Mr India wooing his Sridevi(Alia Bhatt) with the earnest ardour of Romeo on the edge of the balcony(there is a lot of height jumping in the early courtship),the next minute Ranbir is trying to save the world from various villains. Is he up to the task?
Fire plays an important part in the plot. You get to see agni in various shapes plastered all across the frames. The fire images, reminiscent of Netflix’s series Fire & Bones, that Ayan conjures are so vivid and beautiful they seem to have gone straight from the artiste’s imagination to the screen.
The scale of storytelling is staggeringly steep, sometimes drowning the supporting characters,and these include Nagarjuna(simply referred to as Artiste) and Amitabh Bachchan playing a guru at a retreat that looks like Rajneesh’s ashram.(Not that I’ve been ,just saying).
SPOILER AHEAD: Naming Shah Rukh Khan after his character in Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades could be the smartest move in this chessboard of a film that never leaves you bored.
Shah Rukh’s Mohan Bhargava exits the plot early after a bloodsplattering battle with Junoon, the arch-villainess played by the entertaining Mouni Roy. Her collection of costumes and eye makeup could make a theme for a thesis.
Some other time. Right now it’s business as unusual.
The heartstopping chases never stop and the search for a secret talisman split into three parts echoes Marvel’s super-hero universe. And yet for all its derivative hints, Brahmastra is original, fresh, vibrant and quite irresistible. This, you cannot afford to miss.