Sci-fi fantasy and classic Bollywood romance are woven together by mysterious forces (and Amitabh Bachchan).
Superhero movies and romantic comedies agree that love is the most powerful force in the universe. It forces iconic heroes as well as lost lovers, resets the moral compass and cleanses the soul. This is the spirit behind “Brahmāstra Part One: Shiva”, the first installment in a Bollywood Trilogy directed by Ian Mukerji. The film is a science fiction/fantasy and Bollywood romance, an ambitious introduction to a legendary cinematic universe with the predictable hiccups of building a massive world from scratch. It is a great try and unmissable theatrical experience for any Bollywood fan.
“Shiva” sets the Mukerji saga “Astraverse”, in which a group of humans protects the sacred light of the universe in its various forms, called Astras: water, earth, wind, and film fire – but also animal forces, such as a bull or a monkey. Brahmāstra is the last of these energies, and holds the essence of them all, divided into three parts and kept separate to ensure the integrity of the world. This and the other Astra were commissioned to the Illuminati-esque group known as the Brahmansh and kept secret.
The film explains all of this in the introduction (although it is better than most films because it was narrated by Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood’s biggest star), but much earlier; After the introductory sequence we turn to Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor), the ordinary but extraordinary hero of this story, and for the next hour, we need not think of anything as trivial as the world’s saving Astras, because there is a girl.
Shiva falls hard and fast at dinner (Alia Bhatt) for reasons that neither he nor the movie can fully express. The real-life couple’s on-screen debut doesn’t translate to either of them’s best professional chemistry (which is fine and natural and actually speaks well of their ability to act with other scene partners). A lot of “Brahmāstra” hinges on the idea that the Shiva and Isha connection is as strong as any Astra, but it feels more like two people falling in love than two people who’ve watched a lot of Bollywood movies and mistook the coincidence for fate. When Shiva begins to experience disturbing visions and surges of power that reveal that he is a fiery Astra, Isha joins him to find out what it all means.
On paper, “Brahmastra” is not an explicitly Hindu movie. The idea of Astras is rooted in Hindu mythology, but has been modified in order to see Mukerji. The film is still full of Hindu images and themes: Isha’s name is a form of Lord Shiva Parvati’s wife; Sanskrit hymns and lyrics; Portrait of dinner and Shiva walking around the fire (part of the Hindu wedding ceremony); Personalities regularly pray and celebrate the Hindu festivals of Dussehra, Durga Puja and Kali Puja. Only the wicked have no distinct religion.
But the central themes – the coexistence of light and darkness and the victory of good over evil – are universal. It’s quintessential in Hindu texts like Harry Potter, to “The Lord of the Rings,” Star Wars, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” – any science fiction epic you can name that will likely resemble “Brahmāstra” at one point or another.
Sadly, the movie’s godless villains are painfully flat. Their leader is Junoon (Mouni Roy), and her full identity is her crimson hair and charcoal black eyeshadow. A villain could be an excellent show for any female actress, but not an emphatic, understated performer (the aforementioned eyeshadow does most of the heavy lifting). Junoon’s wasted potential is a shame, and ironic considering how well she can play into the hands of someone like Bhatt herself.
As much as the movie seeks to elevate Shiva and Isha, the latter is criminally underutilized. It’s a step higher than most portrayals of romantic interest in a superhero movie, but it’s disappointing given Bhatt’s well-known ability in films like “Razzie” or…dear. Isha is literally summed up to Shiva’s ‘button’ – the force that propels him and unlocks his firepower, a tool in his hero’s collection. She is smart, brave and loyal, and stands firmly by his side even without any Astras of her own, but is always in need of saving – on least through Shiva’s eyes.Kapoor himself doesn’t bring much to the role, nor does it lend itself to innovation and challenge.The physical prowess he brings to dance sequences translates into stunt actions and what can only be described as the bend of fire, but Shiva is otherwise indistinguishable from the sad boy model of a dog puppy It is, however, synonymous with Kapoor’s heroics (also directed by Mukerji).
Otherwise puffy cast. The forgotten clients’ friends disappear after the first part, overwhelmingly overwhelmed by a group of children in Shiva’s care. Once in the middle of the film, Bachchan is a welcome presence on Earth, striking a perfect balance of butt and goodness as Guruji, but it’s easy for a few other disciples at the ashram to lose track of that oath and weigh it down.
Image provided by Star India Pvt. Ltd., Dharma Productions, Ayan Mukerji and Ranbir Kapoor
Mukerji’s script keeps the story focused and moving, even with a few choppy presentation pranks. Comedy is notably the strongest, with sharp jokes jutting out between the casual romantic and dramatic dialogue – although some of this may be lost on non-Hindi speakers. The resulting tone is a little confusing as the movie tries to balance its emotional struggle with proper endurance, but it generally works. To this end, the first verb moves quickly, but the speed is inconsistent and the ending is too long.
“Brahmastra” is considered one of the most expensive Hindi films of all time, with an estimated budget of 410 crore or more than $50 million. The investment pays off with CGI dazzling the powers of the Astra light, similar to the visuals on “Ms. Marvel.” Since there is no realistic comparison of how the god-like power of light appears, “Brahmāstra” must create its own visual language, full of corresponding brightness and saturation in cinematography and lush colouring. Film editing can be hard on the border with chaos, but anyone who has watched an Indian series before will feel right at home.
Pritam’s soundtrack manages to weaken his own talents as a composer and the versatility of singer Arijit Singh. “Caesarean section” And the “Diva Diva“More similar than different, you hardly erase the sliding bar for authenticity in a Bollywood music scene populated by remixes and any old song auto-tuned and renamed ‘2.0.’”ka bhut danceCharming and popular at least, she serves to present Shiva’s character through Kapoor’s remarkable talent for dancing. Although composer Simon Franklin’s background score is serviceable, it lacks the distinction necessary for a film of this size, and may have benefited from more classical influences. Hindi due to the themes of the film.
“Brahmāstra” throws a lot at its audience, especially with the grammar and history of Astras, which was not necessarily necessary in “Part One”. After all, it’s not as if fans understood the intricacies of the Infinity Stones when they were introduced in “Age of Ultron.” The movie accomplishes most of what it plans to do, such as building Shiva’s history and path forward, and the look and feel of Astraverse combat and training. The second half of the movie hits with some predictable but satisfying twists, resulting in a reveal that will have to wait until “Part Two.” Much like other big films, it leaves audiences wanting more.
Grade: C +
“Brahmāstra Part One: Shiva” is now exclusively showing in theaters.