Brahmastra is a gift of disappointments which keeps on giving
‘Mujhe iss astra ki shakti ka ehsaas hai Scientist sahab’ – says Junoon, the antagonist of Brahmastra, played by the fierce Mouni Roy. For a moment, this line seemed like a reference to Sonakshi Sinha’s iconic ‘Thappad se darr nahi lagta sahab’ dialogue from Dabangg. It is impossible to imagine an antagonist as dangerous as Junoon, who is on a killing spree to get the most dangerous weapon known to mankind, addressing the scientist who holds a part of that weapon as ‘Sahab’. This is one of the many areas where Brahmastra, which otherwise is a visual spectacle and had the potential to be an intriguing fantasy film, falters.
Brahmastra does have good moments. They appear as sudden bursts of brilliance in between scenes which are monotonous and marred by poor writing. One such memorable moment is when Isha (played by Alia Bhatt) breaks into an impromptu dance to the iconic Chikni Chameli as Shiva (played by Ranbir Kapoor) joins her. There is also a high-octane chase sequence featuring one of Junoon’s ‘killers’ which will keep you on the edge of your seat. The VFX, too, is on-point and the sets are as grand and magical as they can get. Ayan’s vision is truly brought to life on the celluloid but sadly, it is the script and the writing which is the hamartia of Brahmastra, the hero all of us hoped would revive Bollywood.
Nomenclature Goes For A Toss
For starters, Brahmastra doesn’t get its nomenclature right. As a fantasy film which borrows much of its themes and backstory from the ancient Indian mythology and the legends of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, one would expect the writers to stick to using Hindi words to address characters and symbols. The usage of Love Storiya in Kesariya was only the tip of the iceberg. When we see Shiva and Isha discuss the astras, they talk of ‘light’ many times. “Jab andhera ho, light ko dhundho,” says Shiva.
The usage of the word ‘light’ looks misplaced and frankly, jarring. One wonders why the writers didn’t go for the Hindi word for light which would have been appropriate. The film addresses SRK and Nagarjuna’s characters as ‘scientist’ and ‘artist’ – which, again, seems off-putting, especially during crucial fight sequences when killers call them ‘Ae, scientist!’. Of course, we aren’t told why the characters are called ‘scientist’ and ‘artist’ because we don’t really see them do research or anything creative.
The usage of correct nomenclature in a fantasy film is crucial. Unfortunately, Brahmastra doesn’t get this bit right.
The shoddy dialogue writing ruins some of the best action and dramatic sequences of the film. “Aap Brahmansh ki membership aise de rahe ho jaise Diwali ka double dhamaaka offer’ – says Shiva to Guru (played by Amitabh Bachchan) who is the leader of Brahmansh, a secret society meant to guard Brahmastra. The usage of the word ‘membership’ to refer to the induction of Shiva into the secret society takes away from the seriousness of the scene. Dialogues like the one above are plenty and honestly makes one wonder if even the film takes itself seriously. “Mera kuch rishta hai aag se”, “bandar ko number dogi” and “scientist ki payal” are some other examples of similar phrases used by characters which, honestly, seem chuckle-worthy and illicit laughs after a while.
The Fall of Alia Bhatt
Blunders and misfit dialogues aside, the most painful part in Brahmastra was seeing Alia Bhatt, unarguably the best actress of our generation, reduced to a prop. Alia, who has essayed the role of Sehmat, a freedom fighter in Raazi and the courageous and incorrigible Gangu in Gangubai Kathiawadi, plays Isha who is best described as a damsel-in-distress. Isha’s entire existence is based around Shiva, her love interest. We don’t really know what was Isha’s motivation behind following Shiva to Varanasi. What was in it for her? Why did she put her life on the line for a boy she met only a few days ago? We don’t really see her grow as a character in the film and sadly, the sole purpose of Isha’s existence is to make Shiva’s life convenient. She acts as his driver, caretaker and at one point, goes back to his home to get his clothes while he ‘trains’ at the Ashram. One cannot help but wonder why Alia went for a role as inconsequential as that of Isha who serves little-to-no purpose in the grand scheme of things.
All in all, Brahmastra is best described as a visual spectacle which is hollow and lacks depth. It has cinematic brilliance and good visual effects but lacks soul and fails to make the audience feel for its characters.
Deepansh Duggal is an entertainment, pop-culture and trends writer based in New Delhi. He specializes in op-eds based on the socio-political and gender issues in the world of entertainment and showbiz. He also writes explainers and occasionally reviews shows in the OTT space. He tweets at @Deepansh75.
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