VFX: DNEG (Chairman and CEO Namit Malhotra)
Director: Ayan Mukerji
Screenplay: Ayan Mukerji, Hussain Dalal
Producers: Ranbir Kapoor, Ayan Mukerji, Karan Johar, Hiroo Johar, Apoorva Mehta, Namit Malhotra, Marijke Desouza
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amitabh Bachchan, Nagarjuna, Mouni Roy, Shah Rukh Khan.
Plot (Minimum Spoilers):
“World’s Greatest power is Love”
Not a joke. That’s the whole story. Here, the first entity to be mentioned is who did the VFX. This is because that’s all there was to this movie – an absolute Cringe Fest with some good quality VFX making it nothing more than a mere laser light show – a pizza without any topping, a PS5 without any games, a khichdi with all the rotting ingredients, well you get the idea. The VFX was done by seven times Oscar winning company DNEG which has Namit Malhotra Founder of Prime Focus, Chairman and CEO of DNEG who joined hands with Dharma Production as one of the Producers.
He is being talked here because he was the actual star of the entire movie. The rest were all side actors. The plot is simple, there are some good guys who wants to prevent some bad guys (played by Mouni Roy who looked and dressed suspiciously like the scarlet witch. Did a fine job though) from getting the three parts of the legendary weapon Brahmastra. The main story bores us with Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt delivering their cringe dialogues worthy of being a part of some bad Tik-Tok video which makes you want to vomit then and there (disposable polybag – check).
The story picks a decent pace in the first 30 minutes after which it is ruined by the unnecessary and idiotic love story stuffed forcefully into the movie for God knows what reason. Alia Bhatt’s dialogues start and end with the name ‘Shiva’ (Ranbir Kapoor’s character) with different voice modulations ranging from whisper to yelling. The story progresses at a sluggish pace during which the viewer has to tolerate inorganic and forced love story between the two. Amitabh Bachchan is like an oasis in the hellish story landscape of this movie who is a teacher in this secret society which is tasked with the protection of the ‘Astras’ which are divine weapons and ‘Brahmastra’ the ultimate weapon.
Rest you can guess pretty easily even if you haven’t seen the movie. Ranbir’s character is/has the Fire astra. Mouni Roy as ‘Junoon’ (seriously? An Urdu name?) wants the three parts of Brahmastra. In the end Ranbir’s character utilizes ‘Power of Love’ and defeats her, apparently because power of love defeats everything. (Ugh!)
The movie cringes to its core. The dialogues are like a 6th class student who is in love with his class teacher has written it. The movie lacks a soul, heart, kidneys, and most importantly a brain. It is just skin on bones. By the looks of it, there has not been any research that was done to form the story of this movie. Apparently, it was initially to be named as ‘Dragon’ with the story of Jalal Al-Dīn Muhammad Rumi and it seems given the demand for content which is based more on the Indian culture and the Hinduism based stories, they just changed the names and a few things here and there without doing any form of research about the nuances and depth of the Gods and Astras in the Puranas. They didn’t even bother to change the Urdu words in dialogues and songs. Were they confused about the demography they were targeting? I don’t think so. It seems they were trying to swim in two boats at the same time, trying to play that age old secularism and appeasement card.
This is unfortunate because had they put in sincere work in the story, they could have earned some very good profits with goodwill from the public. This is because to the public it hardly matters which story you’re trying to show as long as it is good and well executed. It doesn’t matter which religion the viewer is from. This is a grave insult to a viewer’s conscience. It seems there was hardly any thought that was put into creating the story. Ayan definitely has no idea or knowledge about the Puranas or core philosophies in Hinduism.
This concept of light winning over the dark is an Abrahamic, monotheistic concept which is nowhere close to the mark. The teachings in Hinduism have always been all about ‘Dharma’ (just) winning over ‘Adharma’ (unjust). The divine weapons have come to those who put in enough work, overcame adversity, maintained their mind, controlled their emotions, toiled and labored to become someone close to a perfect person. Not by giving into emotions left and right.
All this was nowhere to be found in the movie. The kids under the tutelage of Amitabh Bachchan’s character were behaving like unruly brats who were polar opposite from someone who might be studying, meditating, trying to master the Astras. Alia’s character meets with Ranbir’s, falls in love and is ready to set out on a trip to Varanasi in just a day! The Ashram of Amitabh Bachchan’s character is set in the Himalayas where Ranvir & Alia’s characters are roaming around in half t-shirts.
The movie is as bad as can be made. The story was like it was made for kids; the dialogues even more juvenile. Whenever the movie starts building up and the audience starts to get interested in the story, the movie smacks them over the head with the unwanted love story or idiotic, childish dialogues that completely underplayed the situation where it seemed Ranbir is still in ‘Wake up Sid’ mode. Only in this movie Sid never wakes up. The only saving grace was the VFX for which 1 star is given. It would be a great surprise if the movie managed to break even. It made good earnings on the opening weekend because of the surprise factor and good word on the street for its VFX. However, from Monday the shows all seem to be of Minimum occupancy as the word got out about the movie. The reviewers who were extremely generous for one reason or the other, praised the VFX of the movie and left it at that. The break-even looks a far-fetched dream for the makers who are adamant that it is a ‘Hit’ although the entire world is telling them it’s really not.
The boycott trend on social media hardly played any part in it because the story itself deserved to be thrown in the dumpster. Just VFX cannot be the only reason for people to open their wallets, shut their minds and sit through almost 3 hours of it. If the makers finalize the second part of the movie, they must bear in mind the many mistakes that were made with their first product. The public wants to see something authentic, something which has a soul, something which is a sincere effort if you’re trying to make a movie based on Puranas and the ancient history and stories in Hinduism, a fictional depiction will do only if done with sincerity & attention to detail. Calling the series ‘Astraverse’ is just laughable at this point if this is the sort of content that is in store for this series going forward.
Overall, a very average movie to a very generous Bollywood movie viewer; a shit-show for someone who has high standards. Watch it when it comes to OTT because I don’t want you to waste your hard-earned money and give it to Bollywood, also contrary, why should I be the one to suffer alone. LOL