I don’t even care about spoiling the SRK cameo. It’s the main reason most of you would want to watch it, and I wouldn’t be giving you necessary info without acknowledging that. But otherwise, a disgusting bowl of undercooked reheated greasy microwave pizza with phoney “masala” sauce that was eaten and then thrown up in a big brown pile with chunks on the sidewalk by a drunk hipster who was yelling at his girlfriend at 3am while you are trying to sleep. Did that description make you feel a little nauseated and unhappy? WELCOME TO MY WORLD! Midnight, I just got home, and I feel too sick to sleep.
The hardest challenge with this film is to figure out in exactly what way it is bad. That is, the manner of badness, the core of badness. I know the symptoms. Terrible dialogue that sounds like it was run through google translate (“Light=Roshni”), total lack of character development, the ultimate in lazy love at first sight relationships, unimaginative CGI, no moral imperative to the heroics, lame action scenes, and Ranbir Kapoor’s inability to move his forehead. But what is the ultimate REASON for the badness? Is it Ayan’s blind love for Ranbir? Ranbir’s blind love for himself? An attempt to use Hinduism based powers without any Hinduism based morality?
Maybe it’s the lack of a core itself? I don’t think this movie knows what it wants to be or, more importantly, who it wants to be FOR. Ayan’s first movie, Wake Up Sid, is legitimately excellent and has a very clear identity. It is about growing up as a young person in modern urban India, and it is for young people growing up in modern urban India. Because it is so clear on what it is and who it is for, the whole movie pulls into a cohesive whole and becomes so specific as to be universal. This movie, I don’t know what it is and I don’t know who it is for, except that it is NOT for me.
It’s very specifically not for me. In so many ways. I’m a woman, and the only prominent female characters are a totally empty young woman who says things like “maybe my destiny is to help you find your destiny” and the villain. The villain is awesome, it’s true, but she’s also the villain.
I’m also someone who finds relationships and emotions the most interesting part of a narrative. The only relationship that matters here is the True Love relationship which has no build at all, just sort of randomly happens without effort or growth. Emotions-wise, there’s a little bit of Ranbir-pain, but otherwise everyone seems to behave in ways driven by logic and the plot instead of emotions.
If I can’t have emotions and relationships, at least I like to have a good moral message and theme to dig into. This movie is really remarkably lacking in morality, especially since it is supposed to be a “superhero” movie. Spider-Man, my favorite superhero movie trilogy, has the classic line “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. That’s it, right there, that’s what matters. A hero has to struggle constantly with the moral issues of how and when to use his powers. And that’s why Bahubali worked, and RRR. And loads of other Indian movies that aren’t technically “superhero” films, but are about heroes who have great powers. In this movie, Ranbir’s powers have neither a meaning nor a purpose. It seems to be power for the sake of power. I don’t really understand why I’m supposed to be rooting for or against anyone.
And finally, I am someone who can get great joy from the craftsmanship of film. In this one, the soundtrack is BANGING. Pritam for the WIN! And the song visuals are okay as well. But the performances (excepting SRK, and that’s not me being a fan, that’s because he must have had enough power to be allowed to adlib a little and have fun with it) are so so so SO bad, the dialogue is cringable, and even the visuals are just lifeless somehow.
So three strikes, it’s out. No emotional depth, no moral message, and bad quality. Without any of those elements, really, who is this FOR? Ranbir fanboys? But they won’t get the “ACTING” that they like from him, not enough emotions. Special effects fans? But they can get better quality from a Disney Plus TV show. Hindu fundamentalists? They are stupid, but I think even they would notice that this is a bit lacking in religion. Alia Fans? They may buy tickets, but then they would just want to burn the theater down in protest after they saw it. Pritam fans? No, even they would be unhappy because there’s only the 3 songs.
Anyway, Shahrukh’s in it. Go watch his bits, and then walk out and get a pretzel or something.