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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Brahmastra Trailer: Bollywood’s Ode To Sacred Faith & Visual Aesthetics In Cinema

Brahmastra has taken years of development and execution. The lengthy wait for Ayan Mukerji’s ambitious project is now over as makers finally launch the trailer. It is backed by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Star Studios. It is the first instalment of a trilogy and will release on September 9, 2022.

“Water, wind, fire. Since ancient times there exist among us energies which have been harnessed into Astras.” Superstar Amitabh Bachchan explains in a voice-over as the trailer introduces to us the many keepers of the sacred powers. He plays the role of a wise guru. “This is a story about the lord of all the Astras- the Brahmastra, and about one young man who must discover that the destiny of the Brahmastra depends on him – Shiva,” Bachchan adds.

We are introduced to Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor), a young man whose romance with a young girl, Isha (Alia Bhatt) has just commenced. But their world is turned upside down as Shiva learns that he has a mysterious connection to the Brahmastra. He realises the presence of greater power within him that he doesn’t understand just yet. That is the power of fire.

The movie is set to take viewers on a journey along with Shiva as he gets inducted into the world of Astras. In turn, he discovers destiny as the divine hero of the universe. In the first video glimpse, we also see Nagarjuna and Mouni Roy Nambiar (who seems outstanding) as the negative characters. Superstars Deepika Padukone and Shah Rukh Khan are also rumoured to appear in special roles. The movie will also star Jibraan Khan, Saqib Ayub and Dimple Kapadia.

Brahmastra unlike other ‘superhero’ films the West has presented, is a melting pot of several styles including adventure and action. However, this magnum-opus marvels at Hindu Dharma. It presents a sacred, indigenous culture customised with a modern-day VFX twist. As such, the visual spectacle is handled by Double Negative Visual Effects (DNEG).

This is a fusion which is very rare in Hindi cinema. But let’s hope that makers actually do justice to the faith and not do a disservice to it. With western movies like The Matrix and Doctor Strange which clearly draw inspiration from Hinduism, but yet do not fully acknowledge the faith, it is perhaps commendable that at least an Indian creation like this appreciates the Hindu heritage.

Of course, South-Indian blockbusters like Baahubali have drawn inspiration from epics and Indian mythology and as a result, have been huge money-spinners at the box office. In fact, the South has been celebrating consecutive successes with blockbusters like Pushpa and RRR. Previously, shows like Naagin have been popular on Television as they amalgamate culture with contemporary times. This title is reported to be the most expensive Hindi film with a production cost of Rs 300 crore ($40 Million) in budget. For Hindi cinema, currently, a movie of this gravitas seems to be both a boon and a risk.

A boon, because should a big-budgeted title succeed, then it could revive Bollywood’s theatrical economical system. On the other hand, if it is unsuccessful, then this could otherwise prove lethal, not just for Bollywood, but the makers alike. It would be a deterrent to make more projects like this. However, it is important that movies of this stature are made as it expands the cinema’s reach, challenges and creativity as content creators. We would have created our own blockbuster fantasy universe.

Trade experts like Ramesh Bala predict that the collections may cross the Rs 100 Crore milestone within its opening weekend. But this is dependent on the promotional strategy as well as content strength itself. Given that Brahmastra is releasing numerous non-Hindi languages including Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada, this opens up the film’s market to a wider audience.

The pan-India appeal that Bollywood is now witnessing has been ongoing as many major stars from South India have worked with talents from the North and vice-versa. Film exhibitor and distributor Akshaye Rathi believes that there has always been a ‘cross-pollination’ of talent. He says: “For whatever reason, we [the Hindi film industry] were depriving ourselves of the pan-India audience. I truly think it makes logical sense to cast as wide a net as possible and cater to as wider audiences as possible.”

He further highlights that if Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise or Duwayne Johnson can create a market in India, then why not any of the current, younger Bollywood stars’ ambition for the same in Southern-Indian markets? Rathi adds: “This is a logical progression for all the fraternities to start operating as the ‘Indian’ film fraternity.” He believes talent from across the slate should unite to create great cinema.

Plus, there is also the ‘anti-Bollywood’ brigade who add more pressure and will campaign for the picture’s debacle. Dealing with this negativity has become a new chore now within the industry. Given that it is also Ayan Mukerji’s third directorial following Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. His ambition is palpable. Let’s hope the final product is palatable.

Watch the Brahmastra trailer here: 

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