‘Animal’ movie review: Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s distorted masculinity praise hurts Ranbir Kapoor

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In one of their most well-known songs, the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men sings, “My head is more like an animal than anything else.” All of Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s characters are ill-mannered guys who could easily be mistaken for monsters. They are creatures of privilege and entitlement with thick heads.

Following the release of two films, Arjun Reddy (2017) and Kabir Singh (2019), both of which are about a chain-smoking doctor who struggles with rage, the director has returned with Animal, his second Hindi feature film, which is about a chain-smoking engineer who has extensive issues with his father.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that he has a pessimistic and archaic perspective on human tendencies, he nevertheless wants us to be in awe of his heroes, even to adore and empathize with them.

Throughout his childhood, Ranvijay, played by Ranbir Kapoor, is a wealthy Delhi brat who looks up to his father, the billionaire Balbir Singh, played by Anil Kapoor. The fact that Balbir is cold and emotionally distant causes Ranvijay’s circuitry to become messed up from the time he was small.

In order to celebrate his father’s birthday, he sneaks away from school. Years later, when his own brother-in-law refers to Balbir as “papa,” he becomes enraged and territorial. In a more general sense, he is irritated by familiar phrases as well. For example, his childhood sweetheart Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna) calling him “bhaiya” (brother) in public.

Ranbir Kapoor in a scene from ‘Animal’ Movie

At this point, he is an adult, and he has a bike and a bun mullet. He gives Geetanjali the instruction to end her engagement to another guy and marry him instead. It is not clear why Geetanjali reacts so quickly; perhaps she has seen Kabir Singh and is aware of the penalties that will occur if she does not comply.

Vanga does not have the patience or delicacy to portray even a glimpse of Ranvijay and Geetanjali’s early marital existence, which is when they travel to the United States, raise two children, and spend their initial years together in undisturbed bliss.

In spite of the fact that his films are driven and propelled by distorted conceptions of love, he does not have a real feel for the mechanics of relationship stories. Even a straightforward love interlude, which does not include a hint, a snub, or an unprovoked sexual boast, becomes too challenging for the filmmaker and his co-writers Pranay Reddy Vanga and Saurabh Gupta to manage.

On the contrary, they jump ahead in time to six years later, when Balbir is shot on a golf course by individuals who have not been publicly named. After hurriedly returning home, Ranvijay, who is now a bearded beast, assumes control of the situation. His goals of ensuring the safety of his family come into conflict with his insatiable need to get retribution with all his might.

Kabir Singh, a huge hit, was heavily criticized for glamorizing misogyny and toxic masculinity. The hero of the film punched his fiancée, overdosed after experiencing a heartbreak, and uttered self-pitying gasconades such as “I’m not a rebel without a cause… nor a murderer with a hand blade.”

This cinematic world is expanded in a funny manner by Vanga through the character of Ranvijay, who is a murderer who uses a hand blade. There is a steady stream of provocations that are nothing more than pure reviewer bait, and they are on the rise.

During the first few minutes of the show, the word “toxic” is spoken. In his conversation with Geetanjali, Ranvijay makes the proclamation that there are two categories of men: “alphas” and all the other poetry-writing wimps.

The hero makes a point of pointing out that the business that his father runs, which is called Swastik Steel, is not a “Nazi” operation. It is a childish and self-aggrandizing style to filmmaking: a director who is commercially successful showing off to his supporters while simultaneously keeping his critics furious.

Vanga is not “investigating” chauvinism or codes of honor in a huge patriarchal household, as is the case with The Godfather, which serves as an evident inspiration for this picture. Instead, it appears to be engrained in his general approach to plot, character, and dialogue.

Ranvijay’s territorialism, which he possesses since he is a combination of Michael and Sonny, naturally extends to all of the female members of his family. “You are a strong, independent woman,” he tells his older sister after he has killed off her husband, who was just as vicious. On the periphery of the story, his mother is observing the action.

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However, it is revealing that her breaking point in the story comes with him leaving the marital bed; a more crushing offence in the writers’ conception than the violence or neglect. Geetanjali is a more vociferous character than previous Vanga heroines, and there are a handful of lengthy fights between her and Ranvijay when they are together. 

When it comes to studying and unclasping the masculine psyche, Vanga seems to be partially on the right track, despite the fact that his stories are full of self-contradiction and boastful statements. The reason for this is because if Animal transforms into an action movie, it loses its edge.

A lengthy conflict that takes place in the lobby of a hotel is appropriately chaotic, but it has the general look of music videos. Despite the fact that Kapoor slashes and chops over music and blood splatters everywhere, the action does not have the same level of flair and power as a Tarantino or Kartik Subbaraj video.

This film is in desperate need of some much-needed ferocity, and it is up to Bobby Deol, the specifics of whose involvement are best kept a secret, to bring it about.

Vanga’s editing style is convoluted, and while it pays off on times, it frequently stalls and is a source of frustration. Over the course of its more than three-hour running duration, the movie is both excessively long and insufficiently long.

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The swagger of Sanju, the cockiness of Bombay Velvet, and the angst of Rockstar are all elements that can be found on Ranbir Kapoor’s career mixtape. The eyes of Anil Kapoor, which are filled with exhaustion and remorse, carry a significant amount of the emotional weight.

In the background, there are a few intriguing performances; our selections are Shakti Kapoor as Balbir’s soft-spoken consigliere and Babloo Prithiveeraj as a comically-outsized heavy. Both of these performances are considered to be among the most intriguing.

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