Ranbir Kapoor in a still from Animal. (courtesy: YouTube)
A surfeit of everything - length, violence, love, obsession and toxicity - and shrill drama designed to trigger trauma - that is what Animal, written, directed and edited by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, peddles. The sickeningly violent father-son action drama rarely pauses for breath.
The older man's wife pipes up once in a while in an attempt to get a word in edgewise but fails miserably. The husband shuts her up. The son's wife has much more to say, but all the vacuous verbiage that she foists upon her husband - and the audience - is just that, vacuous verbiage.
Mixed with bushels of superficial style, the unbridled excess of the Ranbir Kapoor starrer just goes on and on, deigning to stop at absolutely nothing. When the hero's elder sister is ragged in college, he, a schoolboy with a pathological sense of entitlement, barges into her classroom with a gun and fires several rounds.
His father ticks him off sternly and even calls him a criminal. But the boy is beyond chastisement. He believes that it is perfectly fine for a man to stand up for his sister when she is in trouble. The rest of the noxious film offers a litany of excuses for a protagonist who is clearly in need of psychiatric care.
Ranbir Kapoor delivers a powerful performance that is supported with customary elan by Anil Kapoor. But because the film is propelled in the main by problematic means and instincts, the efforts of the two stars can only go abegging. You want to look away when the two are peddling their wares.
The story of a boy's manic adoration for his super wealthy industrialist-father who does not have the time to reciprocate the overflowing filial ardour is nearly three and a half hours long. But that is only one of the reasons why Animal is an exhausting film. In every which way, it is an all-out assault on the senses.
Animal is the kind of film that would have us believe that it is no big deal for a loving son to go berserk when it comes to tackling those who threaten the well-being of his dad and his two sisters. Since danger seems to lurk over the family at every corner, he has the licence to be as boorish as he wants to be.
The protagonist (Ranbir Kapoor) goes hell for leather, spills tons of blood, kills tens of people and blows hot and hotter when he figures out that a conspiracy is indeed afoot to eliminate the patriarch and rob his family of the steel plant that it owns.
Even in love, there is no room for niceties for this my-way-or-the-highway guy. He does not so much as fall in love as make a grab for it. He does not propose marriage. He literally demands it.
All that he appears to be interested in is unquestioning allegiance from the girl, Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna), who he had the hots for as a schoolboy but hasn't met since his angry dad, Balbir Singh, packed him off to the US in the hope of seeing him turn a new leaf.
But nothing changes. Ranvijay Singh is back and he is worse than ever before. The lady plays along without a whimper. Not only does she not demonstrate any sort of willpower of her own, she also seems to be thrilled at the prospect of being swept away from her engagement party and hustled into a marriage against her parents' wishes. He own does not count for much.
Not that she does not have a voice but her utterances and positions are mere reactions to what the man in her life does entirely of his own volition and then feigns that his actions are consensual. When he strays from his wife and develops a bond with another girl (Triptii Dimri), he proffers the kind of untenable logic that only a man like him can.
If the hero is the way that he is, can the antagonist (Bobby Deol, who struggles to make an impact in a severely abbreviated appearance) be any different? He is not. The bad guy - he lives in faraway Scotland and pretty much does whatever his damaged heart desires - pops up after Animal has run well over half its course.
Not to be left behind, the vicious villain spares no effort to prove that he is as bloodthirsty as Ranvijay Singh, the scion of the business group that owns Swastik Steel. The two men are caught in a deadly blood feud. A vile attack on Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor) by men who want to wrest control of the ageing tycoon's business empire elicits a reprisal so venomous that is triggers an unending cycle of violence.
To justify that it is a man's world, Animal presents two men who are as physically impaired as they are mentally scarred. One loses all sense of taste and smell and is unable to hear after sustaining six bullet wounds that push his heart to the brink of collapse.
The other cannot speak. He communicates with the help of a brother who serves as a sign language interpreter. When the two men square off in the climax - it is, like such clashes usually are in vengeance sagas of this sort, staged on the tarmac of an airstrip.
If you think that the physical shortcomings that the warring pair has to deal with are meant to be seen as a metaphor for what men of their ilk lack, banish that thought. Everything that the hero does in order to ensure that he has his way is backed up with an odious justification. What motive could be greater, Animal seems to ask the audience, than a man's desire to win the attention of his distracted father?
If there is anything at all that can be deemed to be a takeaway from this off-putting and tiresome film, it is the background music. The gratuitously gory action sequences are accompanied on the soundtrack by folksy songs - Marathi, Punjabi, the works.
One action scene has a whistled tune to go with it, another has a piece played on a string instrument. Music, unfortunately, is the last thing that Animal is likely to leave you with as you troop out of the theatre wondering what all the deadening din was about.
Ranbir Kapoor, Rashmika Mandanna, Bobby Deol, Anil Kapoor, Triptii Dimri, Shakti Kapoor
Sandeep Reddy Vanga