Animal movie: unleashing a beast fit only for adult viewership

  • Rehan Ahmad
  • Dec 06, 2023

When it comes to movies, sometimes the titles are more underwhelming than what they represent. With the release of Animal, Bollywood has outdone itself in all conceivable sane ways, except for one thing – the title of a movie that does not signify an ordinary animal, but a beast. Yes, Animal is filled with sheer brutality. It is the story of a man who forgets everything when he becomes a beast.

Animal is a movie that will be debated for years, despite being accused of influence from multiple other movies. Bollywood has seen films like Baazigar, Darr, Anjaam, Khalnayak, Vaastav, Satya, Company, and Raam Jaane, which were criticized for glorifying violence in a similar way as Hollywood’s legendary Godfather series.

One wonders how technically correct it would be to call Ranbir Kapoor a ‘hero’ in this film, as the term here refers not to his character but to his role. It might also spark a debate in South Asia about whether merely being 18 years old qualifies one to watch something like this, or if there will be a need for other parameters preventing negative influences of the film.

People from varying backgrounds have taken it upon themselves to either advocate for the movie online under one guise or another, or to judge the living lights out of it. Some discussions go to the extent of saying that just as the rate of divorces in India allegedly increased in the aftermath of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Animal will inculcate a sense of expression revolving around a raw language that has not been a part of the mainstream societal fabric so far – this is something others readily disagree with.

Coming back to Animal, it is a film by Sandeep Vanga, who previously made ‘Kabir Singh’ and ‘Arjun Reddy’. Sandeep Vanga’s style of movie-making is worlds apart from directors like Rajkumar Hirani, Sooraj Barjatya, Rajamouli, Karan Johar, David Dhawan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Rohit Shetty, and Ram Gopal Varma, who each have their own style, design, and philosophy that defines modern bollywood.

Who can forget Shahid Kapoor filling his pants with ice in Kabir Singh, and the social media storm that followed its release? It is as if Sandeep absorbed all that criticism, internally multiplied it by a lot, and came up with something many times bolder in the form of Animal, this time with Bobby Deol and Ranbir Kapoor up to a task that’s bound to take flak unlike ever before.

The music tracks are reminiscent of mainstream films, while the storyline has everything from the story of a father, son, son-in-law, and betrayal like in Amitabh, Akshay Kumar, and Mahesh Bahl’s Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love; with the son turning wayward due to his busy and principled father, similar to Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan’s Shakti; the battle for inheritance like in Anil Kapoor’s Virasat; the family feud among brothers like in Mahabharata or Baahubali; anger, revenge, animal nature, Punjab, and weapons like in Maula Jatt; psychologically ‘moved’ characters due to parents like in the film Darr; a son taking revenge for his father like in Baazigar; a father sending his son abroad like in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham; changing faces similar to Face Off or Mission Impossible. However, labelling Animal as ‘influenced’ by any one of these movies would be an insult to the art of filmmaking.

All other aspects of the movie take a back seat when compared to the brutal violence that is the cornerstone of the flick. Love, deceit, emotions, etc., all are overshadowed by excessive violence, bloodshed, and bullets – all brought together in the most ruthless of ways. I have yet to see a Bollywood movie with such a gruesome level of violence, with the exception of Ram Gopal Varma’s Rakht Charitra.

Animal has the potential to influence the youth to develop a higher sense of rebellion than is ever required; it has more scenes that are degrading for women than empowering; it has a language that represents vulgarity in its raw form.

By comparison, Maula Jatt and Animal are stories from two completely different settings and eras, but both have been filmed with great effort in their portrayal of violence. Watching both films could serve as a catharsis for many, with the differentiating factor between the hero and the villain appearing at the very end. Both times, the villain dies at the hands of the enemy but doesn’t allow his allies to kill the hero. Both, the hero, being a lone warrior, overpowers dozens or hundreds with his inner beast dominating his human self. Ranbir is fully drenched in his character’s traits just as Fawad was in becoming Maula Jatt.

The music not only complements the story but has also received a warm reception. Vanga has kept a signature tune for Ranbir throughout, just as he did for Kabir Singh.

Without giving too many spoilers, it is a tale of a business tycoon with two things – a past and a pair of kids. He has no time for the son and doesn’t trust his daughter. Then there is a son-in-law who lacks loyalty, and relatives with zero sense of love. The son, deprived of fatherly love, becomes a criminal, and the storyline picks up when after an attack on his father, he starts killing the ‘killers’. The story doesn’t even end at The End. The Animal that emerges after the film’s climax is a bigger and different version of the same beast.

Regardless of the storyline, Ranbir has proven himself to be a powerhouse, surpassing his performances in Rockstar and Sanju, and one deserving of an award. With so many characters, it is hard to track all the characters but Anil Kapoor fits his role perfectly and Rashmika acted well. Suresh Oberoi, once again, appears in a role similar to the one in Kabir Singh. Prem Chopra has also repaid his ‘debt’ from the film Bobby. Shakti Kapoor played the role of the CEO of India’s biggest company and also participated in a celebratory shoot-out. But the one actor for whom this movie would mean more than others is Bobby Deol. This might mark his true comeback, making his mark with his silent yet menacing presence.

The final fight between Ranbir and Bobby is terrifying, with the most frightening of violence, yet the movie never feels ‘dark’. Every scene is so fit for the cinema screen that they become intimidating. The dialogues of the film are simple, powerful, explosive, and such that they cannot be written here.

Despite being over three hours long and under all the gore and language, there is a message that asks for spending time with your children, loving your homeland, not being blinded by revenge, and considering your daughters as worthy heirs like your sons.

It is rated for adults only, yet has become a blockbuster, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it fares better than both ‘Pathan’ and ‘Jawan’ combined at the box office. Yet those who will watch it once the digital and OTT versions are released will see an even fiercer face of the beast that is Animal. All criticism aside, anyone who watches Animal would know that it is a flick made by Sandeep Vanga – the director of Kabir Singh, and not by Sooraj Barjatya of Hum Aapke Hain Koun fame!

Read more: Ranbir Kapoor’s latest movie animal makes Rs203 million before release

Animal Movie

Rehan Ahmad

The author is a senior journalist and is affiliated with HUM News as Director News

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