BRAHMASTRA – Part One: Shiva

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BRAHMASTRA – Part One: Shiva
BRAHMASTRA – Part One: Shiva

BRAHMASTRA is ambitious and spectacular, but feeble in its content!

Packed with high octane action and stunning visuals, BRAHMASTRA – Part One is an enthusiastic jumpstart to a planned trilogy. However, with a story which is formulaic, yet occasionally overcomplicated, and overindulgent VFX coupled with a long runtime, BRAHMASTRA is a spectacle which excites and exhausts the viewers in equal measure. Nevertheless, building a new mythological cinematic universe from scratch, while keeping mainstream Bollywood sensibility in mind, this origin story is an admirable attempt from Ayan Mukherjee to create a new experience for the theatre going Indian audiences. Nothing extraordinary, but watchable!

The Plot: BRAHMĀSTRA: PART ONE, is the story of SHIVA -- a young man, who is on the brink of an epic love, with a girl named Isha. But their world is turned upside down, because Shiva learns that he has a mysterious connection to the Brahmāstra, and a great power within him that he doesn't understand yet – the power of Fire. Through this film we experience Shiva's adventures as he journeys into the world of ‘Astras’ and in turn, discovers his destiny as the Divine Hero of the universe.

Kickstarting a franchise from scratch with a novel concept, comes with its fair share of hiccups, which is totally evident in Brahmastra Part One. Introducing the viewers to a massive new world of “Astras”, the various characters and the powers they possess, there is way too much packed into one film. Just the concept narration and the introduction scenes glossed up with major CGI, take up so much time and resources, that the core plotline comes across as oversimplistic and weak in comparison. As a result, the content fails to live up to the visual extravaganza that you see on screen. But if this film does decent business, this problem would end right here, as the next instalment just needs to focus on the plot and not do the introduction/explanation heavy-lifting all over again.

To be honest, with so much stuffed into one package, it was very easy for BRAHMASTRA to have gone horribly wrong. But kudos to director Ayan Mukherjee for keeping the various elements within his reach and pulling it off, albeit with major flaws. The main problem in this film lies in the thread that binds it all – the story, which is incoherent and totally lacks the desired heft. The film has all the traditional trappings of a Bollywood drama, adorning tried-and-tested arcs and beats, with large-scale choreographed songs, splashed with ravishing colours and presented with good-looking people. However, these are some things you can’t avoid in a commercially driven cinema model.

But as I said before, the frail writing deprives the viewers of  true satisfaction. Not everyone will appreciate the gigantic efforts that have gone behind creating such a spectacle, when they are not truly convinced on the plotline itself. And this is where the film falters big time. The VFX driven presentation does get a bit exhausting after a while. But eventually, to encourage such new concepts, BRAHMASTRA will have to be given a chance, despite all its flaws and gaping plot holes, and trust that the subsequent parts will only get better and better. In the music department, while the songs are likeable, the background score could’ve been much better. Despite its length, the film is consistently engaging.

The quality of performances is also pretty standard, and nothing remarkable stands out. This again is a result of surface level writing, where not much is expected of your actors. While Ranbir Kapoor is omnipresent and carries the film with his magnetic charm, you do end up desiring a much more layered characterization for him, through which we could’ve witnessed the real skill of this super powerful performer. Alia Bhatt does a good job in the supporting role she plays. Amitabh Bachchan also dextrously gets into the skin of the key role that he’s been given. In fact, post the introduction of his character, the screenplay gathers slightly more heft and context. Nagarjuna appears in an extended cameo, merely to take things forward. Another surprise superstar cameo in the beginning of the film, is more rhetorical than useful. All others are hardly noticeable.

To sum up, BRAHMASTRA PART ONE is flawed, but with a promise for bigger and better things to follow. While it may not be able to fully satisfy you with its content, it doesn’t disappoint either. Worth a watch, but go with your expectations in check!

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