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Animal Review: Ruthless Ranbir Goes For The Kill

Last updated on: December 01, 2023 12:56 IST
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Animal's violence isn't for the fainted-hearted unless you have an appetite for Korean style mayhem, like Sukanya Verma.

Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga's stories and characters aren't looking for a character certificate.

The man behind Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh isn't looking to play nice in Animal either.

Instead of rewarding their vice and venom, he paints them in the bloodiest shade of red.

It's not likeability but loathing Animal is screaming for.


In this seething study on a son's obsessive hero worship of his emotionally unavailable father descending into madness, the director unleashes his fiercest impulses and care-a-damn attitude to deliver an action-packed exchange of volatile emotions and ruthless violence.

Imagine The Godfather where Sonny and Michael Corleone are merged into one in one's desire to win their father's approval or tragedy of being dragged in a life another didn't plan on. It's a little bit like Sanjay Dutt-Kabir Bedi's strained ties in Yalgaar and Amitabh Bachchan-Dilip Kumar's daddy issues in Shakti for bringing to mind the misfortune of a son dying for his papa's attention by hook or crook.

It's also like the Mahabharat where family feuds escalate to the point of bloodshed and badla.

Against an industrialist-mafia hybrid model build on the tabbar support of turbaned Sardars warding off masked hitmen in endless supplies while engaging with freelance arms supplier of John Wick proportions, both fighting clans and filial conflicts fuel a drama whose intensity is dialed up on a badass scale for a bonkers impact.

Families, especially dysfunctional ones, have extraordinary shock absorbers.

Animal, set in Delhi's wealthiest Punjabi family, is its most extreme embodiment. They cannot live with each other. They cannot live without each other.

Despite its out-and-out black tone, Animal opens on a monochrome note hoping we'll find some grey area in Rannvijay Singh Balbir's (Ranbir Kapoor) story even if there's no redeeming a Satan or sinner.

On the occasion of his father's centenary celebration, a grey-haired, wrinkle-faced son reflects on the bittersweet memories of his precious papa, Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor).

Reddy Vanga's screenplay, co-written by Prashant Reddy Vanga and Suresh Bandaru then cuts to various life changing chapters that mark his journey from desperate to deadly.

Too busy making money, a lot of which probably goes into saving his son from going to jail in Reddy Vanga's lawless universe, Balbir Singh is the kind of stern, self-absorbed patriarch that can turn their child's world upside down even in a Karan Johar movie. It's all about loving the father in Animal.

Raised on patriarchal ideas of masculinity, Vijay sees himself as the inheritor and protector of these disruptive values.

Unlike his long festered resentment that's perennially on display, his father wears the veneer of civility rather efficiently, its cracks only visible in Vijay's childhood nostalgia and trauma.

A ticking bomb, his sister cries (a terrific Saloni Batra). A criminal, declares his father. Flying planes as easily as firing guns, Vijay is both, no doubt.

But he has the gift of the gab when he delivers a rousing speech to the workers of his dad's company, Swastik steel (it's not Nazi, he explains for those offended by its teasing glimpse) but also openly threatens to slit the throat of his father's attackers on national television.

It's a lawless universe in Reddy Vanga's comic book inspired-anarchy where the existence of cops is good as nil.

Vijay's a hypocrite as well, giving monologues on how women should make their own decision only to decide what they will do for the rest of their lives.

For him, adultery is not personal, it's strictly business.

It's another thing that the man eats his words half the time but starts out by threatening everyone.

Possessive to a fault, he abhors the idea of anyone except his kids calling their father 'Papa' and warns his wife against second marriage in the event of his death.

Expectedly, Reddy Vanga's woman problem looms large on Animal too.

His perverse lions and lambs imagery of man-woman relationship once again sees romance in slaps ensuing in abundant rough exchanges of passion that could only be Reddy Vanga's interpretation of S&M. It's upsetting but only underscores the rampant depravity on display by an unhinged, unstable mind.

Vijay's transition to a brute and a boor is complete when he loses all filters, oscillating between murdering and making crude jokes about his phallus almost as regularly as his obsession for his papa.

But the centrepiece of its action-packed momentum hits peak epic-ness when Animal’s red-filtered frames capture a blood-soaked Vijay going on a rampage wearing a kurta, lungi and red sneakers, wielding an axe, wreaking havoc in a South Korean-style corridor fight slashing, slicing and slamming everything in sight against the hammering sound of Marathi folk music and Punjabi war cries.

Its 20 minutes or more of absolute mayhem when a King Kong sized bullet-blasting beast 'imagined in Delhi, manufactured in Bengaluru, assembled in Maharashtra and made in India' turns a ballroom into Vijay's bloody arcade. The fire bursting out of that tank-sized weapon is akin to Godzilla's atomic breath.

How's that for Monster-verse of the Ranbir Kapoor kind?

Animal's violence isn't for the fainted-hearted unless you have an appetite for Korean style mayhem, like yours truly.

The actor's nakedness knows no bounds.

He strips himself bare as an artist -- body and soul.

His eerie resemblance to Sanjay Dutt in some scenes, essential to his Sanju biopic, echoes the vulnerability within his bad boy personality.

On occasions he looks a bit like the idiosyncratic 'Dude' from The Big Lebowski pretending not to care a hoot about his pot-bellied appearance. Except its daddy fixation, not drug-induced hysteria, that dictates his madness whether picking cars the colour of a woman's hickey or blowing up a brand new Rolls Royce.

Within Vijay's various stages of decline, he's only pitiable when reproaching his father for not reaching out. For those fleeting moments, the beast once again becomes a boy. Credit to these fine actors for tugging our heartstrings.

Ranbir and Anil Kapoor's moving meltdown makes for compelling viewing when accompanied by Sonu Nigam's poignant ode, Papa Meri Jaan and its many versions, a haunting whistle straight out of Kill Bill as well as instrumental themes of violin and sitar.

Although a key role if not a lengthy one, the veteran Kapoor shows his mastery by exploding and restraining at all the right places.

It's somewhat gratifying when Rashmika Mandanna shows some nerve and stands up to her horrid husband in her one striking, takeaway scene.

Animal belongs to Ranbir Kapoor until Bobby Deol's antagonist, finally shows up post-interval in the middle of some lively Arabic songs and revelry.

He cannot speak yet burns the screen on the strength of his evil stares and savage energy. When he faces off Vijay in what can be best described as a rumble on the runway, the latter has lost his hearing capacity too.

Evil that cannot hear.

Evil that cannot speak.

Evil for all to see.

Two barbarous grizzly figures become a reflection of each other, almost like shabby Siamese twins, wrestling each other in a robustly choreographed contest.

At three hours 21 minutes, Animal is relentless as a euphoric medley of feral rage and dance of the dysfunctional. The twists go on well until end credits as more blood is splattered our way.

Welcome to the jungle.

Animal Review Rediff Rating:

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