Animal Review

‘Animal’ Review: Vanga’s pathetic meninism does a disservice to a promising premise

KARACHI: As soon as I started Animal, I knew it wasn’t for me. Even in the opening scene—disconnected from the rest of the film and extremely cavalier in its downplaying of harassment – ​​it was clear that I was not the target audience. I’m not complaining about the demographic choice; some things just don’t suit you. However, it’s the calculated way in which the film sheds light on the issues it sets out to highlight that feels heartbreaking, especially since the premise initially seemed promising.

When someone acts out of malice, the beauty of an otherwise exciting performance can be lost. To irritate the feminist community, Sandeep Reddy Vanga misses the opportunity to brilliantly highlight the severity of childhood trauma combined with the lack of fatherly love that leads to little boys potentially becoming the titular animals depicted in the film.

Highs and lows

Make no mistake: the film is exceptionally well shot. Sandeep falters at poorly written dialogues that seem to rely solely on their shock value. It gets boring quickly. Yet he compensates for this with fascinating directorial choices. The Netflix edit runs over three hours, which is at least two hours too long for Sandeep to shed light on the nothingness the film emphasizes. However, the fresh, abstract shots and intriguing editing options make for an engaging experience when you need it most, with the action sequences being praised for their chosen choreography and music.

However, it all depends on the plot. When the trailer was released, I was the first to welcome the promise the offer held. After all, it doesn’t bother anyone to see a resilient Ranbir Kapoor battling his father’s problems while battling an equally resilient Bobby Deol, all under the watchful eye of the evergreen Anil Kapoor. The film presents these ideas as bait but fails to deliver on the above premises.

Flimsy expedition

What could have been an in-depth exploration of the father-son bond—a rarely discussed but extremely important topic—falls flat when the film is concerned solely with the absurdities of the dialogue. The structure is initially boring. It is based on the assumption that a child who has everything except his father’s affection must grow up to be an idiot to be accepted or loved. The plot does nothing to further this tangent, with a jump from Ranvijay’s sheltered childhood to one that shows signs of criminal violence. Moreover, the attempt to make Ranbir look like a schoolboy is ridiculous at best.

The father-son bond, especially in South Asian communities, is complex. Unspoken words and half-felt emotions bubble beneath the surface of the exchanged greetings. There is a galaxy of feelings waiting to be discovered and presented to the world to highlight how fathers shape their sons through their presence and absence. Sandeep wants to tackle this problem but fails to make a film that shows us a toxic male character without fully addressing his ‘why?’ This feels like a disservice to the offering—and men as a whole. The film could have made its story much more nuanced.

Here, people are regretting Sandeep’s decision to launch a project out of anger. Where he could have created a masterpiece, he fails and does everything he can to prove that the real world and the movie world belong to people and that their sins and violence should therefore be forgiven and sometimes celebrated.

Read Also: Pakistanis can enjoy ‘Animal’ on Netflix this month

The characters

Another area where the film disappoints is that it includes an antagonist and doesn’t make good on his presence. Bobby is as menacing and intimidating as Abrar, but his entrance—almost two hours into the film—comes far too late, and his journey is abruptly cut short. The star lives up to her promises with her limited screen time and how. Undoubtedly one of the film’s strengths, Abrar is menacing and unhinged, providing the basis for a perfect rebuttal to Ranvijay’s hypermasculinity. However, we want to see more of the star, and the decision that led to his short-lived presence is more disappointing than anything.

Therefore, Ranbir is tasked with carrying the story on his shoulders, a responsibility that the star handles quite well. Despite some terrible dialogue and some completely unnecessary scenes, Ranbir sells Ranvijay perfectly. He makes you hate him and everything he represents, creating a compelling anti-hero. His crazy antics and misogynistic personality cause and evoke a strong emotional response, which you assume is exactly what Sandeep had in mind. So Animal is undoubtedly Ranbir’s film through and through.

Damaging aspects

There’s been a lot of talk about the misogyny in the film, and it’s frustrating to experience. You understand why Ranvijay is the way he is, but you also completely understand how certain scenes and dialogues are added to stoke the anger. Repeating this attempt becomes tiring, and eventually, we stop taking it seriously. Constructing and glorifying Ranvijay in this way is undoubtedly damaging, especially when Ranbir is the face of the anti-hero. This lost nuance, where Ranvijay should have been portrayed primarily as a monster rather than an ambitious character, makes the film truly irredeemable.

Is it disturbing that the film made so much money? Yes. At a time when gender polarization has taken the digital and social world by storm, you can’t help but feel a sinking feeling of foreboding in your stomach and wonder how the picture will turn out. Unfortunately, as Sandeep wants to make clear, it’s a man’s world, and women will ultimately have to pay the price.