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Brahmastra Part One: Shiva

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
4 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

And the weekend Biggie is here and I have finally finished watching the new Hindi film Brahmastra. And this review is of the IMAX print. Bollywood has been in doldrums recently with all the recent releases tanking at the Box Office. A part of it had to do with the Boycott Gang who have been repeatedly(and mindlessly) targetting the Hindi films, and part of the blame goes to Bollywood as well for serving one remake after another. But then that was in the past as all eyes were on Brahmastra to bail Bollywood out of this pickle.

The film which was announced in 2015, has taken almost 7 years to see the light of the day. Kudos to the makers for sticking to the film which would not have been an easy task by any stretch of imagination. What that also did was inflate its budget in a huge manner. So the film needed to be on point since day one. So when its trailer was out, I was really curious about the film as the topic of mythology was an untapped one.

The film has been in the news ever since but it almost broke my heart when there were several negative reviews doing the rounds(I had not watched the film at this point but had booked my tickets already). So with much skepticism, I ventured on a Saturday morning show to watch the much awaited Brahmastra. So then is Brahmastra worth your time, stay tuned.

Story & Screenplay

Part one of the trilogy, Brahmastra is the origin story of Shiva as he finds himself at the centre of an Astra which must be protected at all costs. The story has a deeper mythological relevance against a good vs evil template. In my review of Karthikeya 2 I had mentioned how mythology as a genre is an untapped space and almost a million stories lie in this rich culture of ours. And it was always going to be a matter of time before it was picked for the big screen which definitely made me happy. The screenplay standing at almost 3 hours might seem daunting but the writing is breezy which doesn’t allow a single dull moment to pass by.

The first thing that did strike me was that this is an absolute visual delight which can only be enjoyed on the big screen. This at no levels of comfort will have the same impact on the smaller screen when it premieres later on OTT. So this is the first incentive to venture to the theatres near you(preferably IMAX).

The drama begins on a terrific note with the SRK cameo which got the ball rolling right away. The visual treat of watching the Vaaner Astra just gave me goosebumps right at the very beginning. The drama then shifts to a love story between Shiva and Isha which definitely did begin on a wobbly note. The criticism that this film has received due to this love story element is partly justified as it didn’t seem quite organic. But did it derail the film in any manner?ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

I do have a rant which I will get to at the end of my review. But the proceedings are interesting here with the introduction of many characters, each of whom did get a proper cheering by the capacity crowd on their arrival. The drama scores majorly when the focus is on the Astras which make for several captivating moments. These include some terrific action sequences which end up giving you goosebumps. Some elements here and there are slightly cringe worthy but again it did not hamper the drama overall for me. The interval point is absolutely stunning and goosebumps worthy, probably the best interval blocks that you will see for a Hindi film this year!

The second half does get informative in a good way with the protagonist discovering his superpowers. Also, a good amount of insight is provided about the Astras and the people involved making for a compelling viewing. There is never a dull moment although the pace of the drama does slightly slacken. But the events lead up to a terrific final act which will deliver an absolute knockout punch. Overall, the screenplay is really good. I did read a few reviews on how it could have been better penned but you need to realise that this is just part one of the trilogy. It is a setup and within that space it is well written.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are probably the weakest element of the film. Some lines are cringe worthy and most definitely they could have been better written. But thankfully they are not too much in your face to feel bothersome. The music is outstanding and this soundtrack deserves a playlist of its own, something that I have been playing and humming even as I write this review. The BGM is absolutely spot on and contributes to several goosebumps in the narrative. The cinematography is breathtaking and the VFX is probably the best that I have seen in any Bollywood film. I just cannot praise it enough as it also hides a few of the flaws of the film. Director Ayan Mukerji returning on celluloid after 9 years is in terrific form here. Firstly a huge salute to him for working on this project for over 7 years, that in itself was a monumental effort. And every bit of it shows onscreen. His vision is absolutely stunning which reaffirms the fact that he is one of the best Gen Z directors at the moment. And to weave a drama on this massive scale deserves the highest amount of accolades. His direction is exceptional.

Performances

The performances are pretty good here. You need to be on time for the film as it is the SRK cameo as Mohan Bhargav which sets the ball rolling. And what a brilliant outing by him, setting the tempo of the film just right. Nagarjuna Akkineni as Anish(Anish means supreme) contributes to so many hair raising sequences despite a limited screen time. An absolute delight to watch him onscreen. Amitabh Bachchan as Guruji is stoic and well restrained and a perfect foil to the protagonist. Mouni Roy as Junoon is brilliant in a very intimidating character. She is a terrific actor who puts her best foot forward here. Alia Bhatt as Isha(another name for Parvati who is the wife of Lord Shiva) is decent here. You need to realise that this Alia Bhatt is not the one which you saw in Gangubai. Instead this is Alia from 2016 and so you need to judge her on that. Based on this fact, she does a pretty decent job. Ranbir Kapoor as Shiva is effective and does a splendid job although his onscreen chemistry with Alia is not the best. But the love story does settle in the second hour thus contributing well to the plot. Again does it derail the film? Absolutely Not!

Conclusion

Brahmastra is A Visual Spectacle Of The Highest Order which needs to be witnessed on the biggest screen possible. There are minor issues with the love story but in no way does it derail the film. Which brings me to my rant.

I have noticed a series of negative reviews from some renowned critics who think they know it all. This is even when Bollywood is trying to do something original. I am fine with criticism(that is what we do) but it should be constructive and not for the sake of writing a film off and creating a public perception. To give you a perspective, the recently released Telugu film Karthikeya 2 had a similar template which was rated highly(deservedly so). But a film with better VFX and a good origin story in the same space is completely written off. It is time you as an audience decide and not pay heed to these “Work From Home” Critics. Be responsible while reading reviews or a better way is to form your own opinions after watching the film. Brahmastra available in a theatre near you and Highly Recommended!

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