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Brahmastra, Move Over Marvel, We Have Our Own Superhero Universe Now




Brahmastra Part One: Shiva

Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Alia  Bhatt,Amitabh  Bachchan, Nagarjuna

Written  & Directed by Ayan Mukerji

Rating: ****

Naming Shah Rukh Khan after his  character in Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades  could be the smartest move in this chessboard of a film that  never leaves  you bored.

Shah  Rukh’s Mohan Bhargava exits the  plot early after a bloodsplattering  battle with  Junoon, the arch-villainess  played by the entertaining Mouni Roy. Her collection of  costumes and  eye makeup could  make  a theme for a  thesis.

Some other time. Right now it’s business  as unusual.

We meet Shiva a happy-go-lucky avatar(the gait  in Ranbir’s steps just can’t wait , the ringing of the  temple bells sounds like anklets worn by  prancing belles)   of Anil  Kapoor’s Mr India who has a chance encounter with Isha(Alia Bhatt) and….well, Shiva’s life changes.

The  nonstop adventure  that takes  Shiva on a Bharat Darshan starts in Kolkata and ends  in never-never land with a stopovers in  PM Modiji’s Varanasi  and  Kangnaji’s  Himachal Pradesh  .There is  a breathless anxious excitement  to the  storytelling,almost like a beat-based dance song  by R D Burman whose picture Shiva has on his  wall.

The  actors go with the  flamboyant  mood of  the  proceedings. Ranbir Kapoor , always a portrait  of restraint, lets himself go. He’s never been more over-the-top. One  minute  Mr India wooing  his Sridevi(Alia Bhatt) with the  earnest ardour of  Romeo on the edge  of the balcony(there is  a lot of height jumping in  the early courtship),the next minute Ranbir is trying to save the world from various villains. Is he  up to the task?

Fire plays  an important part  in the plot. You get to see agni in various shapes  plastered  all across  the frames. The fire images, reminiscent  of  Netflix’s series Fire & Bones,  that Ayan conjures are  so  vivid and  beautiful  they seem to have  gone  straight  from the artiste’s imagination to the screen.

The  scale of storytelling is staggeringly steep, sometimes drowning   the supporting  characters,and these include  Nagarjuna(simply referred to  as Artiste) and Amitabh Bachchan  playing a  guru  at a retreat that looks like  Rajneesh’s ashram.(Not that I’ve been ,just  saying).

The  heartstopping chases never stop  and the search for  a secret  talisman  split into three parts echoes  Marvel’s super-hero universe  .And yet for all its derivative hints, Brahmastra is original, fresh, vibrant  and  quite  irresistible. This,  you cannot afford to miss.

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