When the Arjun Reddy remake Kabir Singh was met with heavy flak from critics about the level of toxicity in that movie, Sandeep Reddy Vanga responded to all that by saying his idea of romance involves abuse, and he even said that with his next film, he will show the world/ critics what he can really do. When it comes to his new film Animal, there is definitely a sense of newness in how characters have been conceived. But the execution of the idea felt like a desperate and deliberate statement against those who criticized Arjun Reddy/Kabir Singh. Despite the spectacular performance of Ranbir Kapoor as the main lead, Animal is tiring because of an untidy script that runs after every subplot in its way.
The movie is basically about this industrialist family in Delhi who runs a company named Swastik Steels. Balbir Singh is the head of the company and family, and his younger son Ranvijay Singh, aka Vijay, is our hero. From a very young age, Vijay had this obsessive love towards his hero, his dad. But unfortunately, the same love rarely reciprocated, making Vijay an impulsive loner in his family. What we see in Animal is the evolution of this father-son relationship over the course of time.
Purely on a craft level, it is safe to say that Sandeep Reddy Vanga is indeed a unique voice. How his heroes have this uninhibited style of asking things in a blunt way and how they unapologetically embrace their flaws, etc. are impressive when you compare his films with the other blockbusters happening. What was sort of irritatingly bad about Animal was the untidy nature of the script while it was exploring such high-testosterone characters. The sexiness of the aggression diminishes because it just goes on and on for far too long. Vanga is trying to be unconventional by placing the action setpieces in the middle and opting for a climax that is more emotional. But none of these odd choices enhances the excitement around the story.
Even though the makeup isn’t really supporting him in all versions of the character, Ranbir Kapoor is outstanding in being Vijay. He gets into the psyche of such a problematic character and performs with great conviction. The conversation scene with Anil Kapoor at the end (the first scene in the trailer), the ferociousness he maintains throughout the film, etc., are just terrific. Anil Kapoor, as the shouting, regretted father was also very impressive in his role. Rashmika Mandanna, as Vijay’s wife Geetanjali, is not that bad. The dialogue for which she got trolled is apparently the only area where she sort of messed up the dialogue delivery. The moments leading up to that moment were performed neatly by Rashmika, and you can’t really blame her diction as the character is presented as someone of Telugu origin. Bobby Deol has a very minimal yet important role in the movie.
When I saw the trailer of the film, I was hoping to see a very scaled-up version of how a dysfunctional father-son relationship can escalate into a violent bloodbath. Even though it has that core, the amount of gore they have included in the screenplay sort of hides that core from the viewer. The madness of Vijay that comes from his passionate love towards his Papa is not visible after a point, and it becomes a violent tale narrated by a director who has this blood fetish. I enjoyed the funny side of the fight between Ranbir and Bobby once Ranbir’s Vijay lost his hearing aid. When Vanga makes Geetanjali slap Vijay for his behavior, it feels more like a deliberate attempt to balance the criticism he faced for his debut feature rather than an organic development in that story. The odd music choices were also impressive.
It is kind of sad that while the uninhibited and visceral visual filmmaking of Vanga is making him a distinctive voice in the industry, the excessiveness of that along with the continued glorification of the alpha male trait sort of drags him back. I found myself in a conflicted space where I hated the characterizations and the way the story rooted for those characters while a part of my brain was thinking about how Sandeep conceived these unreal and eccentric characters in his head. Animal is very much an extension of Kabir Singh, and if that movie was not your cup of tea, don’t even bother watching the trailer of Animal.
Animal is very much an extension of Kabir Singh, and if that movie was not your cup of tea, don't even bother watching the trailer of Animal.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended