Indian reactions to Ayan Mukerji’s long-in-the-making fantasy drama Brahmastra have been mixed, and the international media is having similar response to the film. Brahmastra is being distributed by 20th Century Studios in the US, where it was screened for the press a day prior to being released in previews in India.
A review on Variety said that the film ‘smashes up genre conventions as Western cinematic influences readily co-mingle with pure Bollywood razzle-dazzle’, but also noted that ‘the story is occasionally overcomplicated and the spectacle excites and exhausts in equal measure’. A review listed on Rotten Tomatoes by the Film Legacy blog was more critical. The reviewer criticised the ‘sludge of indifferent special effects, endless battles, and deaths that turn out to be not deaths after all’ that are shown in the film’s second half, and said that Ayan isn’t very good at directing action.
Another reviewer, Tessa Smith, said that Brahmastra completely blew her away, and compared it to the Avengers films. “Packed with action and gorgeous visuals, it’s a must watch,” she wrote.
Popular YouTubers Jaby Koay and Achara Kirk also posted a video reaction on their channel, and said that audiences should completely avoid pirating the film, as it deserves to be seen on the big screen. They also made comparisons to RRR, which witnessed massive success in especially the US, after being discovered by Western audiences on Netflix. “Dazzling is the perfect way to put it,” Achara said. Jaby, however, also voiced some frustrations with the film, but said that this was probably down to the high expectations that he had.
The Indian Express’ Shubhra Gupta, meanwhile, panned the film in her 1.5 star review. She wrote, “Despite all those non-stop computer graphics, the opulence of the sets, the starry array, the film’s commitment to its subject, we never really buy into it completely.”
The film was released amid sustained boycott campaigns fuelled by a decade old remark made by Ranbir about enjoying beef. While the economic impact of such campaigns remains unclear, the consensus this time is that virtual rabble-rousing doesn’t affect the on-ground reality. Brahmastra is tracking to open big at the box office, based on pre-release ticket sales which are now hovering around the Rs 30 crore mark for the weekend.
The film also stars Amitabh Bachchan, Mouni Roy, Nagarjuna Akkineni, and features Shah Rukh Khan in a cameo appearance. Brahmastra is intended to be the first part of a planned trilogy.