Brahmastra has been touted as the most expensive film of Bollywood, and it generated a lot of buzz for the material it is based on as well as the beautiful depictions of the supernatural weapons, the Astra’s powers. But does it really live up to the hype? It depends on what you are looking for.
The film starts by introducing us to the secret society of Brahmansh. They are a group of people who have been protecting Astras for generations since they came to the Earth in ancient India. Among these weapons, the Brahmastra is the most powerful – it can control all the other Astras. It is said that the weapon is so powerful that it can be used to even destroy the entire universe.
Then we are introduced to Ranbir Kapoor’s Shiva, who is a poor, orphaned DJ. He is a kind soul, and despite facing difficulties in his life he keeps his head up and finds happiness in the little things. Not wasting further time, we are introduced to Alia Bhatt’s Isha, who is Shiva’s love interest. She is a rich girl who has a down to earth personality and her only purpose in the film is to be devoted to Shiva. They both land their eyes on each other and seem to almost instantly fall in love – and from there starts Bollywood’s obsession of shoehorning in a romance story where it’s not really needed.
The concept of Brahmastra is so intriguing. Powerful weapons that can summon the energy of deities? That is an amazing premise. But the film chooses to set it all aside for far too long. Instead, we are made to sit through a slogfest of the couple’s blooming love story, which is marred by unbelievable actions the characters take and the corny dialogues they say.
The dialogues just sound unnatural. It seemed as if the script was penned in English and then awkwardly translated to Hindi – I am pretty sure some of the combinations of words in the movie were never before spoken in the language.
The film really wants us to feel something for Shiva and Isha, but it just doesn’t happen because their relationship is so rushed. You get the feeling that you are being forced to like the couple and accept that they are madly in love with each other – and they haven’t even known each other for a week.
However, the most expensive Hindi film ever does manage to look amazing. The sets are grand and they keep on getting grander. Even when DJ Shiva is making people dance to his tunes during Durga Puja, you can see the massive scale of the film. And this was just the beginning.
The film wastes way too much time in the first half on establishing the relationship between our two characters – but then it starts to pick the pace up. But even then, the film’s pacing still suffers. A lot of exposition, and switching tones immediately without any sense of a natural progression makes the transitions jarring.
As for the mythological and mystical aspects, the film does manage to excite at points. The ultimate weapon Brahmastra was divided into three parts and the Brahmansh residing in the remote areas of the Himalayas safeguard it, because the antagonist of the story wants to collect all the powers possible and become the strongest being in the world.
Shiva is connected to this. He has a special connection with fire and doesn’t burn from it. He starts getting visions of the dark forces unleashed on this world which are after the Brahmastra. He makes it his mission to stop Mouni Roy’s Junoon who is at the forefront of all this mayhem. On his journey, he meets Nagarjuna Akkineni’s Anish Shetty, who is a member of the Brahmansh and wields the Nandi Astra. This leads him to the leader of the Brahmansh, Amitabh Bachchan’s Guru. There, he learns about his parents and gains control of his fire-wielding powers as the dark forces plan an attack on the Brahmansh’s base of operations. After that comes the climax which goes on for a little too long.
The film depends mainly on the mythological background – which is done justice by the spectacle that are the visual effects – but also on the love story between Shiva and Isha. The latter, unfortunately, does not land well at all. The film also tries to make it a point that the power of love is what saved the world, except that it doesn’t land well at all, because it is hard to care for the couple.