An unfiltered take.
By Shradha Aswani
Disclaimer – This is just a fleeting opinion of an Alia Bhatt fan and self-proclaimed loyalist of the Ranbir-Ayan duo; and should not be confused for a film review. It is a warning at best. My passion may have led me to spill the beans on a few details of the film’s barely existing storyline, so please feel free to read the piece after you have made the mistake of watching the film.
When I first heard “Kesariya”, Brahmāstra’s (2022) flamboyant title track that colours the world with the mush of red (well saffron, really) and makes your heart skip a beat, my only problem was the superficiality of the love portrayed in the song’s lyrics. Husn, loosely translated as beauty, used mostly in a physical sense, seems to be the luring factor for Ranbir’s character Shiva to fall in love with his soulmate, Isha, played by Alia. As it turns out in the movie, beauty is the only factor.
He falls in love, inexplicably, irreversibly, within the first fifteen minutes of the film, in precisely two meetings, and as if that is not enough, the love is equally reciprocated. So much so that Isha is ready to go on a life-threatening, supernatural journey with an orphan whom she had to cajole into asking her out.
What follows is a meatless, make-believe journey to save a weapon, the brahmastra, that a secret society had been appointed to protect. The only thing that can protect it is, of course, love. Love that unlocks Shiva’s inner power, to save the world from the reunion of the brahmastra’s three pieces that may destroy the world.
Love that I was not able to find, despite keeping a miniscule watch on the film’s lead characters. It is possible that I missed it in the 15-minute nap I took in the theatre while watching the spectacle with exactly one other audience member. So, I take blame for the film not working. For not being able to see how the movie justifies its 166-minute-long runtime. For not having understood how the plot justifies the budget of INR 410 crores parked for the trilogy. For not respecting the time that was spent on putting this film together. So, what if not even a fraction of it was spent writing it. The green flying snakes, the glaring red eyes and the thrilling chase sequences (all of which are ‘beautiful’ to watch by the way) should make up for the lack of a script.
Or may be, just may be, the love being spoken of here is from the affair that Ranbir seems to be having with fire, in the song “Deva”.
I take complete responsibility for not watching the film in the way it deserves to be watched. I only spent THB 450 on the ticket, an additional THB 250 on the popcorn and a beverage, to wake me up after my nap, and only turned down every negative review I heard before walking into the cinema, because how could I not watch a film that had the best actors and one of the most promising filmmakers, all working together.
My expectations, indeed, were the problem. And if you are as blinded as me, you should by all means, take the leap of courage, and step into the Astraverse. And, if you do find the love that is enough to conquer it all, I urge that you write to me. This time, my eyes will be open.