Animal movie review: Ranbir Kapoor is bloody brilliant as a brutal beast in Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s gory bloodbath of a film
Ranbir Kapoor has completely outdone himself in Animal. Anil Kapoor and Bobby Deol ably support him while Rashmika Mandanna pales in comparison.
- Sandeep Reddy Vanga
- Ranbir Kapoor,
- Anil Kapoor,
- Bobby Deol,
- Rashmika Mandanna,
- Triptii Dimri,
- Charu Shankar,
- Siddharth Karnick,
- Shakti Kapoor,
- Suresh Oberoi
- Action/Crime Drama
- Hindi (with a bit of Punjabi and Marathi)
Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor) is the country’s top business magnate and has little time to spare for his family and kids. His son Ranvijay Singh Balbir (Ranbir Kapoor), worships his father and grows up to have a fractured relationship with him – always vying for his time, attention, love, and validation which he never receives. This ends up in Ranvijay’s (or Vijay, as he is referred to in the film) unparalleled love for his father taking refuge in brutality and turning him into a beast who would go to unfathomable lengths to protect him (Balbir). Even his wife Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna) and kids cannot come in the way of Vijay’s quest to hunt down his father’s enemies and annihilate them. The rest of the film revolves around his actions and their consequences.
Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s latest offering Animal is not for the faint hearted. If you thought Kabir Singh/Arjun Reddy was violent and problematic, Animal is both these films combined and raised to the power of 10 (if not more). The film begins with a promising first half. Despite some erratic jump cuts and continuity issues which tend to confuse you, the scenes, and the way they play out, manage to hold your attention, primarily because of the stellar act and towering presence of Ranbir Kapoor.
We get glimpses of Ranbir’s Vijay and his efforts to grab his father Balbir’s attention and affection. Instead, all he gets is neglect and repulsion. We also get to witness how his devotion and love for his father turns into a maniacal obsession that drives his philosophies in life. The way he makes Rashmika’s Geetanjali fall for him by explaining his definition of an alpha-male, is both problematic and misogynist. But, as Vanga would have it, Geetanjali somehow finds it convincing and endearing enough to get married to him. Little did she know that she’s actually marrying a cold-blooded brute.
There are several well executed scenes – the one in which the entire family gathers for a photograph, and Vijay’s interactions with his sisters are among the ones that stand out. The one that takes the prize, however, is the mind-blowing interval block action scene – high on adrenaline, drama, violence, and bloodshed (of course!). Watch out for this brilliantly executed sequence where Vijay obliterates an army of over 200 men with a monster gun – the scene has men falling faster than the bullets being fired. Glimpses of the said scene in the film’s teaser and trailer are not enough to prep you for what is to come in the film! Possibly one of the best interval blocks to be executed in recent times for sure.
The problem begins in the second half which is dragged for far too long, courtesy some unnecessary scenes and plot points. It’s often considered risky when the writer-director of a film also triples up as the editor of a project as one is too invested to be stern and ruthless while editing their labour of love. Vanga’s judgement, it seems, also became shrouded while deciding on the final cut of his 201-minute-long feature which starts coming in the way of the viewer’s experience of watching it on the big screens, often testing their patience. The length of the film could have easily been shortened by at least 15 minutes.The choppy editing, multiple incoherent jump cuts (especially the one towards the end), forced below-the-belt humour, and the introduction of a family feud further complicate the plot that was already going haywire.
A couple of sequences (like that of Vijay’s multiple injuries and his recovery) overstay their welcome and make the film fall flat in places. If you’re one of the fans of Lord Bobby, prepare to be disappointed. An actor of his mettle, who the makers hyped as the main antagonist in the lead up to the film’s release, ends up getting just three or four scenes, and that too, post-interval. By the time the film reaches its climax (more on that in a bit), you’re too exhausted to be emotionally invested in the narrative, that promised to be “a father-son bond carved in blood”, but somehow also becomes a tale of vengeance coupled with generational animosity in the family. The premise of the story goes for a toss and the screenplay doesn’t help its case either, further confusing the viewers. Rashmika’s unintelligible dialogues in some crucial scenes too add to the misery.
The only thing that makes you power through the shoddy screenplay and editing, is the terrific acting chops at the display by Ranbir Kapoor, who has clearly outdone himself in becoming the animal that Vanga had envisioned his protagonist to be. The actor, who is known for the coming-of-age man child characters (read Kabir Thapar from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Siddharth Mehra in Wake Up Sid!, Ved in Tamasha, among others) that are sprinkled all over his repertoire of films, has completely surrendered to Vanga’s vision and ambition. The same reflects in his top-notch performance, and how!
It won’t be wrong to say that Animal is an out-and-out Ranbir Kapoor film and he has managed to eat up the presence of almost all his co-stars with his superlative act. Whether it is the interval block, or his face-off with Bobby Deol’s Abrar Haque, Ranbir nails it with immense conviction. Watch out for the scene where he asks Anil Kapoor to play Vijay as he enacts Balbir, recreating one of the instances from his childhood – a masterclass in acting from both Ranbir and Anil. The way Ranbir switches between his expressions and emotions in a single take, is the stuff acting gold is made of.
Anil Kapoor has little to do as far as his screen time is concerned, but he brings a certain gravitas and maturity to his portrayal of Balbir, because of which one doesn’t really end up hating him or holding him responsible for the monster Vijay becomes. He shines brilliantly in a couple of scenes where he gets to portray his vulnerability with nuance in the latter half. Rashmika Mandanna does try to put up a decent act but pales in comparison to Ranbir, with whom she shares almost every frame.
Bobby Deol gets the most underwritten and underutilized part as the antagonist Abrar Haque. It’s utterly disappointing to watch a 201-minute-long film where he has just three scenes. Nevertheless, the couple of occasions where he gets the chance, he completely steals the show with his menacing act – whether it’s his introduction sequence, or his face-off with Ranbir in the climax. The film would have benefitted immensely had he been introduced and his motive been established in the first half. Triptii Dimri delivers well on the expectations in her brief special appearance.
Another aspect that stands out is the music and background score. Harsvardhan Rameshwar has done a fantastic job on the BGM of the film. Watch out for the score that plays in every entry scene of Ranbir’s Vijay (and there are quite a few) instill you with fear and anticipation of what he’s going to do next. The songs in the film, composed by Manan Bhardwaj, leave an impact and help the narrative move forward. Whether it’s the haunting yet emotional Papa Meri Jaan crooned by Sonu Nigam, the soulful Satranga in the vocals of Arijit Singh, Hua Main sung by Raghav Chaitanya and Pritam, Arjan Vailley by Bhupinder Babbal that plays in the interval block action sequence, or Saari Duniya Jalaa Denge by B Praak in the penultimate showdown – every song manages to impress and has a story to tell.
The cinematography by Santhana Krishnan Ravichandran and Amit Roy ably captures the frames and the production design by Suresh Selvarajan too are apt. Had the film's editing and screenplay been on point, Animal would've made for an exceptional movie-watching experience, despite the massive bloodshed and violence.
Watch Animal solely to witness Ranbir Kapoor’s brilliant act as a brutal beast and some of the finest acting chops on screen by Anil Kapoor and Bobby Deol.
PS: You can't afford to miss the post-credit scene!
(All images, unless mentioned otherwise, via YouTube/Screengrab)