There's light, there's fire, there are some superheroes who wield unique astras which were born from the Brahm-Shakti that possesses energies found in elements of nature like Jal (water) Āstra, Pawan (wind) Āstra, Agney (fire) Āstra, and animal and plants. Above all, there's the most powerful astra, Brahmastra, a supernatural celestial weapon that's said to be able to destroy the universe, which was broken into three pieces to save it from the dark forces. And then there's Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt creating sparks on screen with their real-to-reel chemistry.
Brahmastra: Part One - Shiva is a love story at the core, but it soon takes the form of a fight between good and evil when the energies that rule this universe take control. Brahmastra is like watching a video game. Written and directed by Ayan Mukerji, Brahmastra is a heady blend of Hindu mythology and sci-fi elements that serve as the backdrop of a love story which is unusual to say the least.
Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor) is a DJ who falls for Isha (Alia Bhatt) at first sight and as their romance blossoms, his quest to find the reason behind his strange connection with fire becomes even stronger. His visions about destruction become clearer and unaware that he is destined to awaken the Brahmāstra, his path crosses with Guru ji (Amitabh Bachchan), the leader of the Brahmānsh, a secret society of sages who harnessed the Brahm-Shakti. Meanwhile, Junoon (Mouni Roy), the queen of dark forces, must find the fractured pieces of Brahmastra and bring her evil plans to fruition.
Brahmastra starts as your regular, conventional boy meets girl love saga, but it wastes no time in building the actual premise which is letting Shiva get on a journey together to find his ultimate purpose. With an overcomplicated screenplay, Brahmastra does get a bit convoluted at times but gets back on track soon enough too. Mukerji, who spent almost eight years to come out with the final film, clearly has gone overboard with certain aspects, but thankfully, it never reaches a point that it starts to bother and distract.
At two hours 45 minutes, the film seems a bit stretched, especially in the first half, and 20-25 minutes could have been easily chopped off at the editing table. While I liked the build of Shiva and Isha's romance in the first half, it didn't need to be stretched beyond a point. The second half takes off on a high note with flashbacks into Shiva's life and the whole mystery of Brahmastra and there are some really spectacular portions that leave you awestruck. While the story of Brahmastra was never really meant to be simple, it's the magic of VFX (all made in India), treatment of the astras, and grandeur of everything surrounding the characters that make it a visual spectacle and truly a cinematic experience to be enjoyed on the big screen.
Brahmastra has a serious tone for most parts but I liked how dialogues by Hussain Dalal infuse subtle humour at some places that doesn't look odd even in the most intense scene or a fight. And talking of fighting scenes, the action choreography is next level and on par with some of the best we see in films like RRR and Baahubali. No, I'm not attempting to compare Brahmastra with SS Rajamouli's cinematic excellence but let's give credit where it's due.
Making Brahmastra even more special are Alia and Ranbir - the souls of the film. Ranbir has put his best foot forward imbibing Shiva's qualities, making them his own. He also adds his boyish charm into the character even in the most intense scenes. Alia looks pretty convincing as Isha and remains an integral force to drive Shiva's actions. She delivers a restrained performance and never loses her ground. Together, Ranbir and Alia look endearing on screen.
Nagarjuna Akkineni as artist Anish Shetty, and a member of the Brahmānsh, who wields the Nandi Astra, is an extremely powerful casting. His lines and screen presence adds so much more gravitas to the script. Only thing I wish is that the makers gave Akkineni a bit more screen time. Amitabh Bachchan as Guru Ji reminded me of his Narayan Shanker from Mohabbatein, though he's less strict and more fun in this one.
Mouni Roy as the only antagonist in Brahmastra is good only to a point when she doesn't overact and starts to look a tad too over-the-top in parts. From her appearance, attire to makeup, there's something about Junoon that just doesn't fit in. Oh, there's also another veteran actor, a member of Brahmansh, who has been given exactly two dialogues and has been royally wasted in this ensemble cast. I mean, come on, are you telling in this whole Astraverse, there was nothing better she could do than to fly a plane and just be there doing nothing?
Watch Brahmastra because it's not every day that Bollywood churns out a film on this grand scale, with top-class VFX and creates a mystical universe that we only see in the West or closer home in the south film industry. And given that it's a planned trilogy, you'd be left craving for a part two.