White Guy Watches Bollywood

A random white guy engages with contemporary Indian cinema... one movie at a time

Animal (2023)

Hindi Movie Review: Animal may end up being a mess, but it’s often a rousing one, with a truly wild lead performance

Ranbir Kapoor stars in Sandeep Reddy Vanga's Hindi-language "Animal," here reviewed by White Guy Watches Bollywood.

Clocking in at three hours and 22 minutes, Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal is the kind of sprawling opus that wins a baseline level of audience admiration through scope of ambition alone. Even as its soap opera-esque dramatics occasionally make it feel more like a television miniseries strung together for theatrical consumption than a bona fide movie, there’s something undeniably bold about the sheer amount of plot that writer/director Vanga squeezes in here.

Even if the material isn’t exactly the most cinematic at the script level, Vanga’s stylistic influences are clearly the kind of films that occupy the biggest screens: The Godfather, Scarface, Kill Bill, John Wick… not to mention all the Bollywood references I certainly missed as a very recent convert to Indian cinema. The term masala film is typically used to describe Indian movies that blend multiple genres into the same work; Animal doesn’t necessarily qualify in the traditional sense, but it combines so many stylistic reference points, watching it can sometimes feel like you’re being pulverized by an immersion blender to the head.

The movie’s strong sense of swag becomes increasingly apparent as it ramps up to its high-body count action sequences, but even before this point, Vanga indulges in his excessive, decadent sense of aesthetics as he introduces and develops the title character. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen exposition this grandiose – and I mean that as a compliment. It helps that Vanga’s leading man, “Superstar Ranbir Kapoor” (as the opening titles credit him), is incredibly game to play in his director’s depraved, pulpy sandbox. His character’s name is technically Ranvijay Singh, but if there ever was an antihero who earned the moniker “Animal,” he is it.

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