Sandeep Reddy Vanga, the director of Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh, is back with another controversial film, Animal, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Rashmika Mandanna and Bobby Deol. The film, which released on December 1, 2023, has been generating a lot of buzz and debate for its violent, toxic and misogynistic portrayal of its protagonist, Ranvijay aka Vijay Balbir Singh (Ranbir Kapoor).
The film revolves around the obsessive and destructive love of Vijay for his father Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor), a successful businessman who is often away from home due to work. Vijay tries to impress his father and seek his approval, but ends up becoming a ruthless criminal who does not hesitate to kill anyone who comes in his way. He also treats his wife Gitanjali (Rashmika Mandanna) with utter disrespect and cruelty, which raises many eyebrows.
Clocking in at 3 hours and 21 minutes, the film maintains engagement throughout. While some may argue for a shorter runtime, the meticulously crafted scenes contribute to the overall intensity of the drama. The movie seamlessly blends drama with brilliant action sequences, providing a unique cinematic experience.
Sandeep Reddy Vanga's direction creates discomfort with themes of infidelity, strategically woven into the narrative. The limited action, comprising approximately 30 minutes in a nearly 200-minute film, may disappoint action enthusiasts, but the well-executed sequences, especially the interval block, are nothing short of brilliant.
The film does not explain the root cause of Vijay's obsession and aggression, and leaves the audience wondering what made him turn into an animal. The film also glorifies the alpha-male mentality of Vijay, who believes that he can get away with anything because he is a man of action, unlike the 'poet types' who make false promises. The film also features a conversation between Vijay and Gitanjali about how alpha males get the girl, which is a clear reference to the director's previous films.
Despite these flaws, the film manages to keep the audience hooked with its gripping narrative, stylish presentation and stellar performances. Ranbir Kapoor delivers one of his best performances as the flawed and complex Vijay, and showcases his versatility and range as an actor. Anil Kapoor is equally impressive as the father who is torn between his love and fear for his son. Rashmika Mandanna makes a decent debut in Bollywood as the innocent and helpless Gitanjali, who suffers in silence. Bobby Deol has a limited role, but he impresses with his charisma and screen presence.
The film also has a brilliant music score by Manan Bhardwaj, who delivers a mix of romantic, dramatic and energetic songs that suit the mood and tone of the film. The film also has some stunning cinematography by Santhana Krishnan Ravichandran, who captures the dark and gritty world of Vijay with finesse.
"Animal" is not everyone's cup of tea, as it promises violence and delivers, earning both critical acclaim and scrutiny. The film's post-credit scene is a must-watch, offering an excellent conclusion. While it may receive mixed reviews, one undeniable fact is that "Animal" stands out as a distinct and different cinematic experience that pushes boundaries and challenges conventional storytelling.