'Animal', the action thriller produced by Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Murad Khetani, and Pranay Reddy Vanga, was released in theatres today.
Ranbir Kapoor crazily dotes on his father Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor), India's wealthiest industrialist. His love for his dad takes an obsessive form as he grows up. Their years-long estrangement comes to an end when an assassination bid puts Balbir's life in perpetual danger. Ranbir Kapoor is now back with a bang from the US, seething with rage and promising to avenge the murder attempt.
Meanwhile, his wife Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna) develops a marital discord with him.
Ranbir Kapoor delivers a tentpole performance, showing the calibre to endear himself to the Gen Z Telugu viewership in a major way for the first time. 'Animal' might mark his foray into pan-Indian fame. Anil Kapoor is remarkable in some scenes after the bid on his life. His climactic scene with his onscreen son is enhanced by his understated performance.
Rashmika is good but not effective enough to look irreplaceable in any scene. This is ironic, considering she was chosen was Parineeti Chopra was removed from the cast a few days before the film went on the floors. Bobby Deol was picked because director Sandeep Vanga liked him in an IPL-related impromptu pic. He appears unrehearsed in the limited screen time that he gets.
Tripti Dimri as a mistress is good. Babloo Prithiveeraj has an impactful cameo, while Shakti Kapoor, Prem Chopra, and Suresh Oberoi look out of place in the Telugu-dubbed version.
Harshwardhan Rameshwar's background score captures the nervous tension inherent to the film's aesthetics and style. That said, it doesn't sound as bohemian as was intended to. Even the 'Arjun Reddy' hangover doesn't help. More than half a dozen composers have done the different songs. Of them all, Manan Bhardwaj's 'Arjan Vailly' (drawing from a Punjabi folk song) is easily the most splendid one. The father sentiment song by Harshwardhan is good, while the montage song during the climax fight is out of the world.
Sandeep Vanga's editing choices are audacious. At 3 hours 21 minutes, the film feels overlong only in the first 30 minutes of the second half. Later on, the pacing issues get papered over by the performances. Amit Roy's cinematography is artistic.
'Animal' was grounded as an avant-garde film but does it break new ground? To an extent, yes. The hero's romantic pair gets more scenes than the antagonist. This is experimental for a mainstream action drama. If 'Animal' works on the commercial front, other filmmakers will latch on to the idea of focusing on domestic dynamics rather than the worn, tried and tested formula of focusing on the villain.
The first half an hour of the second half comes with somewhat unnecessary scenes that might prove to be a world-building exercise for 'Animal 2' (if and when it is made). The over-indulgence of Ranbir's character shows. The film struggles to find coherence. This approach was okay when your protagonist was from an upper-middle-class medio who took to deviance after a heartbreak. That was 'Arjun Reddy' for you. In 'Animal', you are dealing with the grown-up son of a billionaire who suddenly starts to behave as though he is unhinged. That's why the emotional connection suffers in these portions.
The marathon action episode in the run-up to the interval could have been way better. The 'underwear' humour, the use of an artist as a build-up to the fight, the unleashing of the monstrous machine gun... none of this gels well with the throbbing mood generated by the Punjabi folk song.
Nothing in the film convinces the audience that Ranvijay has no choice but to be on his own despite being the son of India's most powerful businessman. This is why many are complaining that the violence is excessive and some of the scenes are forced.
The post-credits scene is unambiguously inspired by the character Rolex from 'Vikram'.
'Animal' may not be a groundbreaking film but it is watchable for its highs-laced first half. The action scenes and the violence could have come with more force and better context/justification.