It is no doubt that Bollywood was in desperate need of an epic fantasy drama, a genre the Hindi Film industry has notoriously tanked at. Ayan Mukherjee's vision and zeal to make Brahmastra came in with high aspirations and expectations to fill that blank. While the film has its own big share of imperfections, Mukherjee, to his credit, did manage to pull something off that no one ever dared to attempt until now.
The plotline of the film comprises the elements of a basic origin story, as most of us could make out of the trailer. Shiva, orphaned as an infant, possesses some powers that he is unaware of. He is a DJ and lives in an orphanage with kids. He immediately falls in love with a rich girl named Isha whom he meets in a party. Together, they go on an adventure to discover Shiva's fate and his powers.
Now, it is understandable that an origin story has a huge onus on world-building, and introducing characters, all while forming a gripping storyline that immerses and amazes the audience. It is a fine choice to go a little simplistic with storytelling in an origin story. However, can this be an excuse to write appallingly bad dialogues? I think not! In a scene, Ranbir describes Brahmastra as a 'pizza'! In another scene, he says that Isha, the love of his life, is his button. There is the infamous 'Light uss roshni ka naam hai jo hum sabse badi hai', and well, this cringefest of dialogues just doesn't end throughout the film. I wonder what made Hussain Dalal, the writer of the film, was thinking while writing the dialogues. I also wonder that the film was in the making for so long, and no one thought that this was a disastrous creative choice and was nothing but jarring to the ears.
Now that we have that out of the way, another letdown of the film is well, the love story. Now, who wasn't rooting for Ranbir and Alia to be seen together on the big screen together? But boy do they disappoint. The script doesn't give their relationship any space to develop organically, but everything just feels rushed and forced between them. It is also a disappointment that the actor in Alia doesn't really get anything meaningful to do, she is just a damsel in distress while so much could have been done with her character. While she is not fueling Ranbir's powers with the power of love, she spends better part of her screen time calling out his name.
With all its imperfections, credit goes where credit's due. The VFX of the film is top-notch, better than what we saw in the trailer. It truly is a spectacle. What makes it even better is they didn't try to make the visuals and VFX realistic. The makers maintain the hyper fantastic element in their VFX which is more targeted to make the viewing experience special. And well, we also cannot take away the fact that this film has opened gates for many possibilities in this genre in Bollywood now. Just the sheer courage to attempt something so big in Bollywood is commendable and was needed; whether that final product was good or not is another debate. The fact that even after the boycott Bollywood trend on social media has become so big, it didn't really affect the moviegoers for this film. The film has finally broken the curse of Bollywood films tanking on box office, it is a film that is giving people the much needed theatrical experience everyone wanted and it is a film which has given hope to Bollywood and Bollywood lovers.
Following Brahmastra, I also got a chance to watch the 1984 film Party, directed by Govind Nihalani in a select screening. In complete contrast to Brahmastra, the print of Party was bad, the sound quality was also compromised. However, it still was one of my best experiences of watching a movie. Party is a film completely driven by dialogues and conversations. It is a film that talks about several aspects of art and more importantly, artists. With no good print or sound or any VFX to rely on, the movie by no means is a spectacle. However, it does something to you, stays with you, and makes you talk about it for hours. There are too many characters on screen, but everyone has something to add to the film, everyone is on the screen with some purpose. While watching Party, which I thoroughly enjoyed, it occurred to me that in any film, the hero is in fact, the writing.