Brahmastra Review (No SPOILERS): Shahrukh Cameo, But Otherwise VOMIT

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.

31 thoughts on “Brahmastra Review (No SPOILERS): Shahrukh Cameo, But Otherwise VOMIT

  1. Thanks Margaret. I read a few other reviews from reviewers I respect and they were all uniformly unimpressed. But then I see so many websites and news sites giving the movie superb ratings and I wonder what’s going on?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so happy you discussed about the weird concept of religion in this movie. I’m seeing the movie tomorrow so I will comment on your spoilers review tomorrow. However whatever I got from the promotions is that Ayan is not a religious person who understands the concept of Hinduism. Hinduism is all about improving yourself constantly and rising beyond petty worldly troubles. Even when Ayan was talking about the Astraverse it was obvious he was way out of his depth with the concepts. If you’re talking there’s no training nothing and he just has these powers. It shows how Ayan didn’t understand the basic concepts of Hinduism is you need to work to deserve powers. Getting them for no reason doesn’t work or your powers will get taken back. I’m having a hard time making my thoughts coherent but I hope you understand what I mean

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even Shaktimaan even today is better than this with their chakras. Its just feel so hollow when ayaan talked about it and about Ranbir, i dont think he did any preparation for this role. Any, by i mean, ANY….

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    • Yes, exactly, there’s no thought beyond “cool powers bro”. That’s not the ultimate point of those stories in Hinduism, often it ends badly with power corrupting or making you lose your most precious thing and so on. And Hinduism isn’t about “cool powers bro” it’s about Dharma and Karma and lots of stuff this movie is too shallow to handle.

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      • It’s obvious they just wanted the same success Bahubali had with having a similar Indian myth style story without any of the planning and preparation Rajamouli does. Also Hinduism is a lot about being one who is worthy of wielding the weapon he has and you’re telling me he masters it in a minute. I honestly think Ayan just needs a break from Ranbir. He needs someone else to muse upon as Ranbir is making his films decrease in quality.

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  3. Thank you for making the sacrifice, Margaret! Yea just checked Film Companion’s reviews for this movie and for once they seem to agree with you wholeheartedly. I guess there is some small comfort in being right about how paper-thin Alia’s character’s role is from the feeling of dread I got from the trailers, though I am glad Mouni Roy is getting praise for her villain role. Just…OUCH!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. And why is the name Astraverse? To sound cool? really? You have to make a cool movie for that. It looks like a cheap wannabe hollywood trope. Its not only the word bollywood, they copied. Especially at this time, when India is all about changing the colloquial mindset and renamed the Delhi’s Raajpath as Kartavya Path.. they are saying words like Astraverse. And who has designed that awful third class poster? And the biggest culprit- Why are the clothes so bland? If they are talking about hinduism, and there is mention of Gods, then why cant they atleast give some kind of tribute to various Gods with whom the astra is associated with? Where is the damn creativity? Even the ghar more pardesiya song video of Kalank with the background of Raamleela is better than this. It feels like pretentious movie making just for the sake of pretense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the ghar more pardesiya song! It was so cool and interesting. And yes, why are the clothes so bland? The movie seems to think that it’s “cool” to have folks who look like average folks be superpowered. Only their version of “average” is “standard hipster cool”. Like, even just having people wearing regional Indian clothes would have been interesting, instead of all jeans and t-shirts.

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      • People are saying we must watch it because there is so much effort. But the way I see it, where is the effort? Amount of money put in is not directly proportional to effort. No effort in costumes, dialogues, screenplay, story. And why it feels like Ranbir sleep walked through the entire movie?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Exactly. Time does not equal effort. I felt more work in Gangabai, which was made start to finish in less than a year, than in this.

          Also, if that’s the rule we are following, where were these people when Ra.One, Zero, and Tubelight released?

          Liked by 4 people

          • Red chillies have always been brilliant with vfx but they were not appreciated much. People were quick to dismiss Ra one, zero. I watched the making of zero on you tube and the kind of hardwork they have done was brilliant. I dont know from where, this must or should watch trend is coming from suddenly? Effort does not have to be thrusted upon the audience, effort itself shows. Even you see a one month shot october and you just marvel upon the technicalities and authenticness of its depiction of hospital life. You know there is a genuine effort there. But here in brahmastra, i just see pretention in each and everything.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t read the review because I want to know nothing and go with my head clean tomorrow but after seeing the title I’m worried my husband will divoce me for forcing him to see it with me 😮

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      • Ok, I just watched it and don’t hate me but I kinda liked it. This is my first impression. Yes, I saw the flaws but at least the movie wasn’t boring. It was engaging from the first minutes and the time passed quickly. I have seen many boring movies lately, so boring felt like jumping from my window just so I didn’t have to keep watching. This one was fun, the special effects were cool and the bad parts were hilariously bad.

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        • I HATE YOU! But also, am interested in your perspective. Part of the reason I found it boring was that it was so generally predictable, of course this would happen and then that would happen and so on. Did you find it the same but still engaging?

          On Sun, Sep 11, 2022 at 3:12 PM dontcallitbollywood < comment-reply@wordpress.com> wrote:

          Angie commented: “Ok, I just watched it and don’t hate me but I kinda > liked it. This is my first impression. Yes, I saw the flaws but at least > the movie wasn’t boring. It was engaging from the first minutes and the > time passed quickly. I have seen many boring movies lately” >

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          • First you should know that the last movies I watched were Rocketry (a very long movie about people talking only about rocket engines and in scientific jargon), Meri Amaaz Suno (about a radio guy who lost his voice and now suffers) and Viraata Parvam (2h30min about a girl wandering in a jungle in search of the man who will love her like Lenin loved Krupskaya. Really I don’t know how I survived this one).
            Also I haven’t watched an Indian movie in cinema since 2017 (Jab Harry Met Sejal). As they say: “A hungry man praises every dish”. So it’s natural I enjoyed Brahmastra.
            I went with 0 expectations and my brain switched off. It started with SRK looking absolutely hot and doing stunts and later transforiming in a giant Hanuman/Monkey (it reminded me Naruto). Who wouldn’t love that? I wish entire movie was only about him fighting villains. Ranbir was bad, like he has the same expression al the time, but I found it funny. And yes, it was very predicable, but before going to the cinema I read that someone said Brahmastra is “kids movie” and I watched it with this in my mind.

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  6. So the worst version of our low expectations. It sounds terrible, I would be grumpy too. What a waste of resources in a moment when we all are rooting for movies to come back.

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  7. Ayaan’s own origin story. Video came out a couple weeks ago so no spoilers. Interesting short watch to understand what drove ayaan to make the film. P.s. can’t vouch for how much real vs scripted by the PR team.

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  8. I saw Brahmastra maybe half an hour ago and I feel like my brain is goo. Everything was incredibly overwhelming and yet I understood absolutely nothing that happened. I feel like I ran a marathon and ended up in last place. I felt physically ill halfway through the movie and wanted to walk out but my dad had already fallen asleep and I didn’t want to wake him. Alia had more chemistry with the rock thing than her own husband. Not even SRK could save this dumpster fire, pun intended. I need a day long nap.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “I’m also someone who finds relationships and emotions the most interesting part of a narrative. ”

    You really should watch Dhanush’s Thiruchitrambalam. It’s the opposite of Brahmastra – it’s about relationships (sometimes hard, sometimes beautiful) and people who have emotions and most importantly good actors who can show what they are feeling with their faces and eyes.

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  10. Even though it was really predictable, I actually enjoyed this until after the Deva Deva song. After that it just became a boring CGI lightshow that wasn’t engaging anymore.

    The first half of the movie really reminded me how much I enjoy Ranbir in these rom-com type roles even though he’s annoying off screen.

    Also Ayan has been talking about how he’s ready to dedicate the rest of his career to making movies in the Astraverse and that’s just disappointing to me. I just want to see him make more rom-coms like YJHD and WUS.

    Like

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