Animal Hindi Movie

Feature Film | 2023 | Action, Drama
Unconventional storytelling and strong performances drive Vanga's raw, sometimes compelling film about a man with animalistic instincts and a toxic marriage. But a generic second half and an unsuitable father-son angle keep it from realizing its full potential.
Dec 3, 2023 By Sreejith Mullappilly

Where To Watch:
In Theaters: INDIA  

At its core, Sandeep Reddy Vanga's "Animal" is a simple revenge story with nods to Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather". At first, Ranbir Kapoor's Vijay comes across as someone who does not want to indulge in his family business. He is at his father's birthday party seemingly because he likes his father. He is a reluctant outsider who harbors a sense of contempt for his siblings, a bit like Michael Corleone. But unlike Michael, Vijay wants a big say in how the family functions itself.

Speaking of family, a good part of Animal plays out like a Dharma Productions drama as well. In Anil Kapoor's Balbir Singh, it has a father who neglects his spoiled brat child when he is young and disapproves of his ways of living as an adult. Vanga suggests that Balbir has a part to play in the man, or animal, that Vijay becomes. We sense a Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham reference when Vijay brings a lady home, Geetanjali, played by Rashmika Mandanna, and tells his father that he wants to marry her. The father does not want the sight of him or her.

It takes years until we meet Vijay again, and there is a Godfather-like plot point that triggers his comeback into the family. Only here, Vijay does not ask his father, "What is it, pops? What is bothering you?" Vijay simply cannot stand the fact that someone is plotting to kill his father. This is an interesting character because he not only resents his father somewhat but also tries to protect him and seeks his approval. Thankfully, Ranbir Kapoor plays him as an animal, leaving no redeeming or likable quality for him.

Animal is reasonably interesting until the intermission, and that is almost 100 minutes of the movie. Vanga is really unconventional in terms of how he tells the story. For example, he shows a killing sequence first for shock value and then explains the reason for it in flashbacks. The use of songs as background music in a full-blown action sequence appears exciting pre-intermission. There is also a lot to enjoy about the filmmaking pre-interval. Even seemingly simple scenes work wonders thanks to the making, such as one where Ranbir and his black cats make their way out of cars or where he and his distant cousins seek his father's blessings. This is a mostly stylish film with unconventional storytelling. But soon, a sense of inertia starts to set in as things become a tad repetitive.

Unfortunately, the second half of Animal plays out like a standard-issue revenge thriller. A key villain character is introduced so late in the film. Bobby Deol is a towering and riveting presence as the antagonist of the story, but his character is not strong enough for the all-too-powerful force that is Vijay. This film needs a better protagonist-antagonist arc since Vanga invests a reasonable amount of time in this part of the story. The Dharma Productions-like father-son story hardly registers because Vanga and Ranbir have already established Vijay as someone who evokes a great sense of contempt in the audience. We strongly dislike this character, so the effort to show his human side only comes across as an attempt to earn our sympathy for him. It never works, so the movie suffers a great deal. The movie also goes on too long, as do the post-credits.

Like in Arjun Reddy, there is a great deal of political incorrectness about how Vanga treats the female characters here. Why does Rashmika's Geetanjali decide to marry someone who treats women as baby-producing machinery? The first time Vijay meets Geetanjali, he tells her that her pelvis is big enough to bear healthy babies. Is this part of Vanga's psyche? Oh, come on! Anyhow, I am not saying this political incorrectness is why the film fails to work. You see, Dharma and KGF 2 (a masterpiece of a mass film) never go hand in hand. These two disparate universes do not coalesce.

Despite its flaws, however, Animal is not entirely unwatchable. The acting is top-class across the board. Ranbir steals the show, and Rashmika is surprisingly good as a woman who is attracted to the alpha male. There is this terrific scene where she confronts her husband and questions the integrity of their marriage. Rashmika and Ranbir are on fire in this scene. There are also clever uses of certain storytelling elements, like the presence of a spy or a doppelganger.

Sreejith Mullappilly