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Brahmastra: The much-needed Sanjeevani for Hindi cinema?

Brahmastra is a breath of fresh air for the Hindi film industry. It is new in its concept and puts forward an honest effort.

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Brahmastra, starring Ranbir, Alia Bhatt, Amitabh Bachchan, Nagarjuna, Mouni Roy and Shah Rukh Khan in a cameo, released in theatres on September 9.
Brahmastra, starring Ranbir, Alia Bhatt, Amitabh Bachchan, Nagarjuna, Mouni Roy and Shah Rukh Khan in a cameo, released in theatres on September 9.

By Sandeep Krishnarao Patil: The plaguing Hindi cinema, suffering from one setback after the other, finally appears to have found its Sanjeevani. The year 2022 has been a year of calamity for the Hindi film industry. Apart from the success of the Kashmir Files and Bhool Bhulaiya 2, the industry doesn’t have much to show for this year.

Also, the runaway success of the movies of the Telugu, Tamil and Kannada movie industries only highlighted the detachment between the Hindi film industry and its audience. Multiple Hindi movies were totally rejected by the cinemagoers. The ‘Boycott Bollywood’ trend found more takers than cinema goers and several Hindi movies faced an absolute drubbing at the box office.

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The list of colossal flops only kept extending month after month. We are currently in September and the previous eight months for the Hindi film industry have been rather forgettable. In fact, it has been nothing short of a disaster. However, can we say that the Hindi film industry finally appears to have found the ‘sanjeevani’ for its ailment in the form of ‘Brahmastra’?

This is a question we all need to ponder. The movie is a long way off from being called ‘perfect’ or even a great movie. But, what it managed to achieve was to bring the audience to the theatre by presenting a visually appealing depiction of our ancient heritage and samskriti.

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The success of Brahmastra is a testament to what cinema-goers in Bharat want and the road to success goes through the acceptance and celebration of our ancient heritage and sanskriti. Let’s understand the multiple aspects of the movie, but before I critically analyse the film, let me make it clear that this is not an attempt to find all the wrongs, shortcomings and inconsistencies of the movie for the sake of criticism.

It's an honest opinion to make the makers understand what a great opportunity they missed and how a wonderful execution of the movie could have changed the landscape of Hindi cinema forever!

Brahmstra: Part One Shiva, is a story of a DJ, named Shiva (played by Ranbir Kapoor), who is unknowingly secretly related to Brahmansh, led by Guruji (played by Amitabh Bachchan), a secret society created to protect the most potent astra named Brahmastra.

Shiva falls in love with a girl named Isha (played by Alia Bhatt) and starts to rediscover his power. There are a bunch of bad guys in the movie, led by Mouni Roy, who seeks to capture Brahmastra for her Guru named Dev. The movie shows a continuous tussle between the members of Brahmansh, who have vowed to protect Brahmastra, and the evil gang led by Mouni Roy. There are multiple cameos in the movie from Shah Rukh Khan to Nagarjuna each demonstrating an astra in the movie.

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The part of Dimple Kapadia cannot even be considered a cameo, it's a complete waste unless there is scope for her in the second part. The movie is gripping in parts and the action sequences are shot brilliantly. The audience had a visual treat with the brilliantly put VFX. The movie is shot at different locations and tries to provide a comprehensive view of Bharat, capturing the hustle of the city, the intrinsic nature of the slums, the majestic Varanasi and the hills. The acting of the lead actors and the music are pretty good. The movie sets up the base for a sequel to the movie which is already planned.

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The movie, however, though it is good with all the lights and sound, misses the big time on the key ingredients of the story, screenplay and vision of the director.

The things that stop Brahmstra: Part One Shiva from being a great movie are its storytelling and dialogues. The director looks confused about what he wants to present to the audience. Also, the dialogues in the movie are poor. They never let you relate to the characters. They don’t fit into the cultural marvel that the director wants to create in the form of ‘Astraverse’.

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The honesty and integrity of the director are undaunted, but the vision seems confused as far as the story is concerned. His latest videos about his inspiration don't match the story which we all see in the cinema. There is a visible confusion between a love story and the Astraverse. Even the songs are romantic and not even a single one substantiates the theme of the film, which furthers the confusion.

Irrespective of the roller coaster journey that Brahmstra: Part One Shiva takes us on with all the highs and lows, there is a lot to admire about the movie and the filmmakers. The movie reflects the pureness of the filmmaker and the honesty in his storytelling.

Purity has to be in the mind first and then it comes into your work, and that's what we experience while watching the movie. The maker has pureness, and his attempt is genuine, but there is a lot to learn. To err is human, but to learn, improve, grow, progress and be successful is also human and maybe the next part of the movie has a lot in store for us. Also, what should be appreciated is the sheer courage of the filmmaker to be ready and able to conceptualise and represent ‘Astraverse’ requires a lot of courage, especially considering the big budget involved.

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This needs to be even more appreciated because there has never been such an attempt in the Hindi film industry earlier. Moreover, the movie got released when clarion calls were given from multiple quarters about boycotting ‘Bollywood’ movies. The filmmakers were bold all through those times and presented the audience with an alternate concept of ‘Astraverse’. Thus, we see that the time when the film was conceived as a novel attempt and even when the film was released, the Hindi film industry was going through one of its worst times.

Thus, the filmmakers deserve all the accolades. Furthermore, as per various reports, the cost of production of the movie due to delay shot up to Rs 600 crore, so the recovery of the money was simply out of question, but the box office collections of the first instalment of Brahmastra appear to be giving a sign of hope that Part 2 will be made and will definitely earn more to recover all losses. The honesty of the filmmakers is most likely to bear fruit in the long run if they can rectify mistakes in the first part.

Brahmastra is a breath of fresh air for the Hindi film industry. It is new in its concept and puts forward an honest effort. The movie strikes the right chord with the audience and celebrates our heritage and samskriti through multiple scenes.

The movie is, visually, a spectacular experience. The movie gives us hope. It is soothing to see Hindu sentiments are respected, and our samskriti, traditions, and rituals are shown in high regard. Also, the movie has the right masala for the audiences in terms of the typical Hindi movie. The chemistry between Alia and Ranbir, though, pushes the story off track but in itself fills the heart with warmth.

The purity of the thought of the director is also reflected through the purity of the love story between Alia and Ranbir. Brahmastra managed to bring everyone to the theatres. After a long time, we could see the whole family, every generation coming to watch the movie. There was something for every age group. Also, after a long time, there was a positive buzz on social media and surprisingly, it was regarding the soul of any cinema, i.e. content, which is a pragmatic sign of Hindi cinema. Though many are going for ‘Boycott Bollywood’, sooner than later, we have to realise that a boycott has slowly become a mindset, a disease which is hurting the very purpose. It was never for destruction, it was always for teaching a lesson.

Boycotting everything under the sun will lead us nowhere. It is important to appreciate content which celebrates our history and our identity. An aimless boycott will have a sorry end. Movies such as Brahmastra need to be promoted as well as celebrated for the courage of the filmmakers and their honest storytelling.

The movie, irrespective of the Boycott calls, collected more than Rs 300 crore worldwide and more than Rs 200 crore in Bharat. The movie has resonated with the audience and serves as the much-needed sanjeevani for Hindi Cinema. This sanjeevani, we hope, will cure many in the Hindi film industry with the mindset that is hell-bent on denigrating our faith, samskriti and traditions. We hope through this Sanjeevani, the Hindi film industry will rise and do the much-needed course correction for future movies and the type of stories they communicate. Picking up stories that celebrate our ancient samskriti, heritage, wisdom and sciences is the way forward and Brahmstra: Part One Shiva, shows the way.

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