One of the highly awaited films of the year, Animal, directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, has been released in the theaters. The story starts with taking us into Vijay’s (Ranbir Kapoor) childhood, where we see him yearning for his father’s love. Vijay not only idolizes his billionaire businessman father Balbir Singh, but also respects him to the extent of madness. But Balbir, who is all caught up day and night in his business, is unable to give his son the love and time that he desires which makes Vijay’s life’s only goal to somehow get his father’s attention and impress him. In the process, he turns unabashedly violent and mischievous which lands him into a hostel.
It’s here where Vijay, who calls himself an alpha male, falls in love at first sight with Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna). He breaks off Geetanjali’s engagement and directly proposes to her for marriage. He brings Geetanjali to meet his father and family, but once again he’s only met with his indifference and anger. He goes to America with Geetanjali and after spending eight years abroad, he returns home one day to learn that his father has been shot. Determined to maintain his father’s legacy, Vijay now becomes thirsty for the blood of those who fatally attacked his father. It’s here where the film channels his rage and passion for revenge into the unhinged animal. A holi-fest involving severed heads and blood ensues, which gives us one of the best performances ever given by the actor.
Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga makes the gruesome and violent emotions the center of his film. However, as the story progresses, you also reach its emotional layer. The characterization that Sandeep gives to Ranbir’s character is complex, although not always rich with narrative depth. As an evolved audience, you’d have an objection towards his overtly-masculine and misogynistic personality, but despite this his character gradually develops on the screen and you find it difficult to hate him completely. The most special thing about Vanga’s direction, however, is the way in which he violently goes wherever he wants irrespective of the modern day sensibilities. He does not shy away from speaking to the audience about his honor out of the fear of critics, and you have to give him points for that unhinged voice.
Again, it’s Ranbir Kapoor’s performance as Ranvijay which keeps the film afloat even in its more punishing and daunting sections. His intensity is always palpable, as he makes his violent and deranged character layered in every way. While his brutality is reflected in the bloody scenes of murder and mayhem, he appears erotic in the romantic scenes. But the most impressive scenes remain between the father and son sequences. After all these years and mainstream cinema’s tendency of exploiting the trope to its full potential, Vanga finds a resoundingly personal voice to stun the audience while bringing out a unique style of acting from his cast.
Anil Kapoor plays the role of Vijay’s father Balbir Singh with a keen sense of disappointment as well as resentment. Having said that, the emotional gap between Balbir and Vijay is not built up properly; rather, it is expected that you understand it yourself. No effort in fleshing out the backstory of Balbir’s character is seen. Here it feels like this is Vijay’s subjective experience (the way Arjun Reddy was from his) and everybody else is just living in it. But an actor of Anil Kapoor’s caliber manages to present the audience with what they want. The expressions of confusion and helplessness on his face in face of the actions of his psycho son explain his state of constant disarray.
Bobby Deol’s entry in the second half as Abrar fuels the movie with even more mayhem. He is out to kill Balbir Singh. Well, when the hero is already so dreary in the film, then what would the villain look like? After two marriages and eight children, Abrar marries for the third time and enters into Vijay’s life. But after the entry sequence, Bobby meets directly in the final fight which definitely disappoints the viewers.
Just like Kabir Singh’s Preeti, Geetanjali too is a poorly written female character that doesn’t give enough scope to Rashmika Mandana’s acting prowess. But its Tripti Dimri’s small role that leaves a big impact despite the lesser screen time ascribed to her. Apart from this, it’s the thumping background score of Animal that makes its otherwise lengthy runtime somewhat moving. Along with this, the music too compliments the scenes very well. In fact it’s the only thing which remains consistent in the whole movie.
In the 3 hours 21 minutes long film, the first half of Vanga’s film moves with a seamless vigor. Vanga takes his full time to get into the motivating psyche of his characters here. The second half seems longer and inconsistent with the movie’s thematics, where overindulgence comes at the cost of narrative coherence. Considering everything, Animal ultimately doesn’t leave you bored. It can be watched solely for the purpose of entertainment, especially entertainment. If you are expecting anything more than indulging yourself in Vanga’s hyper-stylized masculine world, then the film is not for you.
Animal is now showing in theaters nearby!