Rooted in ancient Indian mythology, Ayan Mukerji’s Disney-produced Hindi-language fantasy Brahmāstra — Part 1 of a planned trilogy — has taken eight years and one pandemic to hit the big screen.
It is set within the ‘Astraverse’ — where natural elements are controlled via weapons (Astras) by a secret society called the Brahmānsh — and tells the story of Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor), a charismatic DJ who falls deeply in love at first sight with Isha (real-life wife Alia Bhatt) during a spectacularly ridiculous musical sequence.
His hopes of winning her affection become entangled with his discovery that he can manipulate fire, setting in motion a sequence of events that will put him on a path toward ensuring the Brahmāstra — a powerful weapon combining each Astra — doesn’t fall into evil hands.
If this sounds vaguely reminiscent of Marvel’s Avengers films, that’s because it’s a by-the-numbers rehash of your typical good vs evil superhero yarn. Despite its clear ambition, Brahmāstra suffers under the weight of formulaic characters, mediocre visual effects and on-the-nose dialogue.
It does succeed on a musical level, however, thanks to Simon Franglen’s epic dramatic score and a host of undeniably catchy songs written by Amitabh Bhattacharya. The playfully entertaining numbers offer unfailing help in reaffirming the wholeheartedness of it all.
It takes a long time for nothing much to happen, though, as characters easily find solutions to their problems and overused slow-mo shots drain the intensity from the action sequences.
In the end Brahmāstra runs out of steam, its mix of slushy romance and CGI-heavy action wearing so thin that not even a song and a dance can save it.