Animal Movie Review: Toxic Love and Unsettling Violence

A few weeks ago, during the unveiling of the trailer for his latest film Animal, actor Ranbir Kapoor likened it to an “adult-rated Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham”. This statement by Kapoor was an understatement, considering the intensity of the film directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga.

In comparison to Vanga’s previous works, Kabir Singh and Arjun Reddy (both made in Hindi and Telugu respectively), the toxicity portrayed in Animal makes them seem insignificant. The trailer only offers a glimpse of the violence that unfolds on screen for a staggering three hours and twenty-one minutes.

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Ranbir Kapoor portrays the character of Ranvijay, also known as Vijay or Animal, who shares a troubled relationship with his father, Balbir Singh (played by Anil Kapoor). However, their issues do not stem from clashes of ego. Vijay has always possessed an unnaturally intense love for his father, which is difficult for others to comprehend. Unfortunately, his father has always been too preoccupied to spend quality time with him. As a result, Vijay grows up as an angsty son, desperately seeking his father’s approval in every aspect of his life. Despite Balbir Singh’s attempts to discipline his son, they prove futile.

After eight long years, Vijay returns home from the United States with his family, only to discover that his beloved father has become the target of an assassination attempt. This event triggers a barbaric transformation in Vijay, leading him on a relentless killing spree until he uncovers the true culprit and motive behind the attack. For Vijay, nothing holds greater importance than protecting his father, even if it means jeopardizing his marriage to Gayatri (portrayed by Rashmika Mandanna).

While the theme of seeking vengeance for one’s parents is not unfamiliar in Bollywood, it is Vanga’s unique approach that sets Animal apart. I use the term “unique” because no other word adequately captures the range of emotions I experienced while enduring Vanga’s prolonged and graphic depiction of violence.

Sandeep Reddy Vanga, a writer, editor, and director, confidently stated in an interview that he would revolutionize the action film genre in India, and he certainly wasn’t joking. With a stylish and intricately choreographed approach, the action scenes in his films are a breath of fresh air for Bollywood. One particular scene stands out, where a multitude of masked men charge at Ranbir, dressed in a white kurta and dhoti, armed first with guns and then with axes. Our protagonist fearlessly charges back at them, wielding an Indian-made bazooka. This lengthy scene is filled with guns, violence, and gore, as if they were being given away for free at a store. It’s easy to believe that Vijay has finally avenged the attack on his father, but this is only the first half of the film, as Vanga has more surprises in store.

However, as the second half unfolds, everything becomes overwhelming. The excessive gore, violence, bloodshed, toxicity, and even Ranbir Kapoor himself become too much to handle. Vanga had previously faced criticism for depicting toxic love in his films “Kabir Singh” and “Arjun Reddy.” It seems that he took note of the feedback and decided to embrace it unabashedly in “Animal.”

Right from the start, the relationship between Vijay and Gayatri is alarming. Their first encounter is uncomfortable, with Ranbir’s character making a crude remark about her body. Yet, in the next moment, she abruptly ends her engagement and leaves her family for him. In Vanga’s world, women seem to be charmed by men who discuss women’s anatomy with a straight face, reminiscent of “Kabir Singh.” In “Animal,” Vanga attempts to portray Mandanna’s character as having a strong backbone and speaking up at times, but everything is ultimately forgiven in the name of love.

The toxicity, bloodshed, and beastly behavior are all excused because, apparently, the man is good in bed. Tripti Dimri’s character plays a significant role in the film but is unfortunately reduced to being treated as a mere sex object. By the time her character appears on screen, you may have already lost faith in both the man and the story itself.

A lot of below-the-belt stuff is also there, and at one point I couldn’t help but wonder why Vanga is so fascinated with the human groin region.

Protracted scenes and conversations about the groin area, underwear that hardens the penis, and other topics are included.


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