Remembering the promise I had made to the young and talented director Ayan Mukerji to watch Brahmastra to watch the film in a theater, that too an IMAX, I settled in my seat with my nachos, cheese and extra servings of jalapenos. As promised by Ayaan, the movie started with phenomenal fight sequences. I popped a cheesy nacho into my mouth, waited for the crunch in my mouth and on screen, and settled into my seat.
What I Loved
The picturesque journey of the young couple, the charming Isha (Alia Bhatt Kapoor) and the flamboyant DJ Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor) in the ancient city of Varanasi. Their chance meeting is symbolic of the (modern day) meeting of Parvati and Purusha, the cosmic male and female powers of Nature.
The lovebirds running up and down the historic ghats. Floating marigold petals. Her saffron blouse contrasting beautifully with his tie-dye red shirt. The boat rides with other devotees on the silvery waters of the Ganges. The glorious Ganga aarti. The magic of twinkling diyas on Diwali.
I have been to Benaras, but the picturization was so perfect that it conjured every detail of my nostalgic visit to the Ganges after my dear dad’s passing.
The powerful vibrations of the inner sanctums with awe-inspiring Goddess Durga, followed by private prayers at the Jyotirling were phenomenal! I could virtually touch the chandan as Isha applied it on the Kashi Vishwanath and then transferred it to her Shiva’s brow.
What I Wished There Was More Of
Time spent on the Isha and Shiva getting to know each other. Granted that love at first sight is a thing, and perhaps the true soul mates have an instantaneous connection, but in the millennial era, with social media and internet matchmaking, relationship status drags on forever.
In Brahmastra, the smart and sassy young Isha in her cute black skirt and blouse, and flowing tresses falls head over heels in love with an orphan boy, who takes care of other less fortunate kids, like Mr. India. With just chance meeting they are a couple, and the young girl from the upper echelons of society is ready to follow him to the edge of the world to destroy evil forces. Without even a phone call to her family? Seems a bit farfetched.
Brahmastra echoes the playbook of epic trilogies like The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. It also is a bit like Harry Potter because the hero Shiva is an orphan and he is curious to know about his parents.
Like Harry Potter, he has a secret.Shiva’s life journey is aboutovercoming confusion, fear of the unknown and accepting his true identity. Only when he knows who he is, and why he has the special powers, can he bring his life purpose to fruition. Most of the movie deals with that, throwing him into a self-propelling fiery prophecy.
The car chase from Varanasi to a random ashram in the Himalayas is like a James Bond movie, in which they don’t run out of fuel and manage to escape every hazard with the villain at close quarters.
Music and Lyrics
I am still trying to recall the Dance Ka Bhoot, and Deva Deva songs but the beat, lyrics and picturization of the song Kesariya is extraordinary! It is penned by none other than the talented Amitabh Bhattacharya, writer of some of my most favorite songs: Channa Mereya, Bulleya, and Kabira from the film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. The song is so catchy that my daughter heard a toddler groove to it (he calls it the quesadilla song).
The song has stirred up quite a controversy on Twitter about the hindification of the word love storiyaan but it has actually helped this love song to Alia Bhatt’s allure by Dharma productions, raking in more than 25 million hits on Indian spotify!
The looming Brahmdev spouting fire.
The charging nandiastra, vanquishing humongous enemies.
The vanarastra in the form of a glowing anklet.
The agni astra.
The mind control powers of Kala Mani.
Shiva playing with fire, and lighting tiki torches at the ashram.
The fireworks display when Isha pushes Shiva’s button. This has created a lot of memes too!
The final battle scene in which the hero jumps from jagged parcels of splintering earth to be with his beloved.
Casting and Acting
I was surprised to see Shah Rukh Khan as the scientist who can vanquish demons without ruffling his hair style or signature aplomb! Maximum footage was given to Mouni Roy. Her character Junoon is the reincarnation of an imaginarychudail from Indian folktales. Dressed in black, with glowing red embers in her eyes. She was awesome in her negative role.
Alia Bhatt did not have much of a role to showcase her acting prowess. She just plays the cutesy Alia. Ranbir Kapoor appears a bit confused in the beginning and later on just becomes a walking, talking blow torch. After a while, I wanted to be transported back to the colorful city of Kashi but perhaps it will happen in the sequel.
To tell you the truth, I had a lot of expectation from the film because of the story’s overarching aspirations, but I liked only bits and pieces of the movie. It was too long to sit in the theater for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Brahmastra is Dharma production’s mega blockbuster with a budget of 450 crore INR. Now that the theaters are open, I am sure they will recoup it.