Animal is a typical south Indian action film of the times that the North audience has taken fancy for – big & well-crafted fights, bigger guns, a hero who balances romance with action, villains who are more dangerous than the hero, a whole lot of blood; logic that can take a hike – and Sandeep Reddy Vanga makes it all work in his inimitable style
Review by Rajeshwari Kalyanam
Animal Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s much awaited film after his massively successful and equally controversial Arjun Reddy is finally in theatres but not before making much noise.
Noise not just in terms of the anticipation driven hype but for the star-studded cast that brings back veterans like Shakti Kapoor & Prem Chopra, in addition to the stellar central characters donned by Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor & Rashmika Mandanna with a special mention to Bobby Deol who looks a million bucks with what obviously is a hard-earned body. And, most importantly for what promised to be Vanga in his more irreverent, provoking, nonchalant form.
If the teaser showed a kiss scene, and a whole lot of violence – it is indeed that – a teaser to what is going to be a 3-hour- 21 minutes of intense, passionate, raw romance to blood curdling violence. The director takes all effort to take the drama and action to the edge traversing the thin line between what could be cinematically the highest point reachable to dangerously overdoing it – from being politically right to stretching cinematic liberty to its capacity.
Every son feels his father is the biggest hero. Ranvijay Balbir Singh (Ranbir Kapoor) takes this worship for his father several notches high to the level of obsession. While father Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor) the business man and chairman of Swastik Group of Companies is too busy to notice his son’s love and almost always is at loggerheads. As Vijay grows up to be angry, reactive and violent – his father increasingly is troubled with his son’s criminal behaviour & so sends him to boarding school.
Vijay comes back from college in the US unchanged – if at all with more confidence in himself and a devil-may-care attitude. He has complaints but would dare any one for pointing out his father’s flaws to him. His devotion and love for father remain unaffected
Then there is Rashmika Mandanna – Geetanjali who is supposed to get engaged to a man arranged by her parents when she sees him. Vijay reminds her of school days when as young kids they liked each other. He reminds her of how he is the alpha male that she would be happy with – an alpha male who first holds her legs – and promptly she leaves her angry parents behind to go with him.
In fact, this scene that comes towards the beginning of the film brings back Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Arjun Reddy 10 X version. But this time his female lead knows what she wants in life, or atleast that is what the director shows to keep himself one step ahead of criticism. So, you have Geetanjali who is unaffected when Vijay says she has a big pelvis which is good for bearing children, loves the passionate side of Vijay who lives on the edge of danger, and is happy to live in the US, has two kids. But, when Vijay comes back to his father – and decides to go behind his father’s attackers (yes, his father is attacked & Ranbir promises to slit the throat of the person responsible for the attack before returning to the US) – Geetanjali is with him; through thick and thin, love and deceit. She watches him kill hundreds of people and is still in love – and why she goes through it all is conveniently explained by her in the film.
The Cast & Characters
That said every male character in Animal film is dominant and the female characters tag along notwithstanding an assertive moment here and there. This includes the even more dangerous villain of the film brilliantly portrayed by Bobby Deol and the father Balbir Singh portrayed by Anil Kapoor in his usual best.
Talking of brilliance Ranbir Kapoor shines through each of his scenes. Rashmika Mandanna could have been in the 90s film steeped in misogyny or the scores of other south action films that hardly have a role for a female lead including Allu Arjun’s Pushpa. But, since it is Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s 2023 film Animal which cleverly caters to the audience’s deep-rooted chauvinism – you get to see only that much of her, but every time she is in the scene you cannot ignore her screen presence and charm. The direction and screenplay is what works for this old wine in new bottle cinema. Especially the screenplay that keeps the audience hooked through the long film – its non-linear narrative is handled with perfection. Music and background score are a major plus for the film.
Animal in short is a typical south Indian action film of the times that the North audience has taken fancy for – big & well-crafted fights, bigger guns, a hero who balances romance with action, villains who are more dangerous than the hero, a whole lot of blood – and an ending the leaves scope for Part 2 which is going to be all that and more – and that is Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s promise to the audience, which he makes towards the end of the film (additional 15 minutes run-time that could have been avoided but no!)
And, it all works. With Animal – Vanga has delivered yet another massive hit.
Rating – 3.0/5