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‘Animal’ trailer promises a fiery Ranbir Kapoor | The Express Tribune

Trailer is packed with action, grief, and a looming threat of an implosion at Ranbir’s character’s end


A father who never saw his son as anything more than a criminal. A son who could never get past seeing his father as his ultimate hero. An impenetrable wall between the two, cemented in place with unsaid words, lost love, missed opportunities, and enough resentment to set the world ablaze. That is what the official trailer of Animal offers, in a nutshell.

The trailer for Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s offering begins with a rugged, bruised, long-haired Ranbir Kapoor asking his “Papa,” Anil Kapoor, to reenact a pivotal memory. On the occasion of his father’s birthday, Ranbir’s character forgoes going to a Michael Jackson concert – an event he had ardently looked forward to. Upon asking his father to recreate the event, he asks him to play the son, simply repeating, “Papa, papa.”

When Anil’s character does so, an agitated Ranbir, essaying his father, ignores his son, whilst a lit cigarette in his mouth emphasises his lack of empathy. Upon further agitation at the repetitive “Papa, papa,” he yells back in a booming roar, saying “I’m not deaf!” The shocked look on Anil’s face is golden. The student has taken his time in becoming the master, and what a cruel master he has become.

Based on the trailer, Animal is a film about honing one’s demons, watching them grow, and ultimately indulging in a dangerous dance with them, with death on one side and victory through annihilation on the other. The narrative, at its very core, seems to be about daddy issues. This has been said time and again. However, “daddy issues” itself is quite a loose term and one that often requires context and explanation.

A history of neglect, being overlooked, perhaps even controlled, and trying to please his father turns Ranbir’s character into the titular animal. The earlier teaser hints that all kinds of abuse have been at play – emotional, verbal, mental, and physical. The protagonist is a privileged one – a fact that is pointed out in the teaser. However, that privilege, it seems from the trailer, is only used for destruction and devastation. Hurt people hurt people, after all. And Ranbir’s character? Well, he is straight-up wounded.

The trailer has to be watched to fully appreciate how well the anticipation has been built for the film. Visually stunning and ridiculously engaging on a storytelling level, the trailer excellently makes you an offer you can’t refuse. Yes, Ranbir’s character is a deeply toxic, troubled, violent man. Yes, he is physically abusive and threatening to his partner. Yes, he’s a murderer. Saying these things aloud, the logical leap to make is that this is a character that should never be glorified. Yet, there’s something about the trailer that makes that very point known.

The protagonist is not meant to be liked or idolised. That would be too simple a goal, too meagre a mission. No, there are far greater forces at play here that point fingers at the battered relationships children share with their parents. While an adult’s actions are their own, that grown-up individual was once a child. A child who may have looked to his father for a love he never received. A child who spent their nights scribbling drawings that professed the love that could not be communicated to the father. A child who would have changed everything about himself so that the father could crack an approving smile.

The journey from that child to the titular animal is what Ranbir seems to be essaying, and boy, does he do a great job. From the looks of the trailer, this could be the superstar’s best performance to date. He’s angry, he’s buff, and there is a defiant adamance about him that says, “This is my film. I am back.” Anil is a great choice for the father – meek when he has to be, and stone-cold when the need arises. Bobby Deol is a welcome addition, and despite being on-screen for seconds, steals the show with his antics and a body he’s clearly put a lot of time into chiselling.

It remains to be seen how Rashmika Mandanna fits into the overall structure of the film. Should one judge based on the trailer and teaser, her character runs the risk of being one pushed to the side – a mere love interest for the hero on his turbulent journey marked by an unexplained vengeance and a trail of bodies. If so, one juggles how this could be a disservice to the star, while also acknowledging that, perhaps, in a film that is evidently fueled by testosterone, her presence was forced, to begin with. One can’t know for sure. Watching the film would be the only way to satiate such queries.

Overall, the trailer is packed with action, grief, and a looming threat of an implosion at Ranbir’s character’s end. The film seems to promise a visual and psychological experience, unpacking male trauma, the need for validation, and how, when all is said and done, love is the most pivotal, driving force in the world, with a dearth of the same turning a mere child seeking love into a ferocious animal.

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