Being a good technician doesn’t make you a good filmmaker (or writer, for that matter). It is no surprise that Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s elaborate story of “an animal” really needed a good editor. Or maybe a sane person in the writers’ room who would tell the director that cinema is not about personal vendetta. But things don’t usually work like that. We have often been told that the director is the captain of the ship and holds absolute power. And the only person they listen to is the money guy who is taking a gamble on their vision. In Vanga’s case, the producer’s gamble relied on the director’s previous ventures, which were massive successes. However, in trying to replicate his last success, Vanga repeated himself over and over again throughout a 3-hour, 21-minute film, which can even put a sloth to death. I believe Animal was a missed opportunity, as there was so much potential in the vision that it could have become one of the best films of the year. We still have high hopes for its sequel, Animal Park, whose title in itself gives us all the right feels. But there are a few things we don’t want Vanga to repeat in the sequel; otherwise, we’ll just have to accept that the director is a mere technician and not a filmmaker at all. Like some other Shetty in the industry, he knows how to sell a film but not make one.
Make the character interesting, not repetitive
Ranbir Kapoor’s Ranvijay Singh was a single-shaded character from the beginning to the end and had no character growth at all. We understand that Vanga was trying to create an anti-hero for the narrative and would not hesitate to compare it with the best-written anti-hero characters in cinematic history. But the likes of Michael Corleone, The Joker, or Travis Bickle are all shades of gray. These men fall, break, become vulnerable, and then become menacing, in no particular order. For Ranvijay, he felt like Superman, who failed to save Lois Lane because she was human (Ranvijay’s father in this case). Even Superman has a weakness, but Ranvijay doesn’t. Why? These weaknesses help to humanize the characters and make them more realistic to the audience, the absence of which is a fatal flaw in Ranvijay’s character. The question we should be asking ourselves is, have we seen someone like that? Vanga might have based the character on his own experiences, but while writing fiction, we have to constantly ask ourselves: Is it realistic enough? More importantly, what message would we be sending out to the world by making our character act in a certain way?
Additionally, subtlety is the key with gray characters. As Alfred Hitchcock once said, horror is in the anticipation of it. In Ranvijay’s case, he blurted out all the bad things he was going to do, and therefore, we missed out on the rush of anticipating just how far he’d go. He killed his own vibe by being too verbose throughout the film. Additionally, when you write a villain, you make them mysterious. It is the key to making them interesting. But Ranvijay was predictable till the end. It is not his fault. It is just that the director repeated Ranvijay’s actions for so long that it became obvious after a point.
The film is set in the capital of India, where Ranvijay enters a conference room, shoots some bodyguards, strangles his own brother-in-law, and walks out victorious. But there isn’t any police investigation at all. It seems like a John Wick world with no law and order. In the sequel, we really want Vanga to work on Ranvijay’s realistic portrayal. Make the character suffer so that he can become human first before turning into an animal. At the very least, there should be a significant transition in the character.
We know that in the next film, we are going to meet the gorier and more violent version of Ranvijay as his duplicate, Aziz Haque, tries to take his place. Understanding Vanga’s vision, we can speculate that he will definitely try to harm Ranvijay’s wife, Geetanjali, who left for the USA at the end of Animal. It will be the most cliche technique to bridge the gap between the protagonist and his love interest, but as far as we have seen, Vanga is full of stereotypes. We really want to be surprised, though, and it would be great if a villain didn’t come for the family and did something “original.”
Don’t overcook the meal
For some sinister reasons or childhood trauma, Vanga has a very specific way of portraying women in his films. Is it right or wrong? People have already discussed that, but what we want to ask is: is it necessary? I understand you are making those comments to trigger someone who spoke badly about your previous ventures, but sometimes, ignorance is bliss. One doesn’t spoil their art just for the sake of defending it against someone’s opinion. As far as I understand, Animal was about a son’s obsession with his absent father. However, the film doesn’t answer as to why the kid got obsessed with the father in the first place. One can argue that kids love their fathers and see them as superheroes (even though Sigmund Freud would wholeheartedly disagree with that). Some explanation about such obsessions would have really helped the script. Instead, the director went on to shoot long scenes where the lead character finds his essence in passing foul comments against women because he is a bad person. If we understood this in the first 20 minutes, then why stretch it until it gets tedious?
Instead of explaining the right things, the film went on to deliver scenes that didn’t move the story forward at all. Was Balbir Singh’s duplicate really needed? Was it a smart choice for the script? The smart choice was for Ranvijay to go back to his “pind” (village) and seek help from his cousins; however, the entire emotion was diluted with just a “Russian joke.” Again, when you overcook the meal, it is bound to taste awful. The film had some incredible moments, which, from time to time, were spoiled by the director himself by introducing an equally bad scene. Did we really need a heart transplant fiasco? What did it add to the story except for the fact that it introduced another love interest in Ranvijay’s life, which was a setup for the sequel and had no direct relationship with the overall story?
We really want Animal Park to be a fast-paced revenge saga without pausing from time to time to make comments on a gender that you don’t really like. Sometimes, coloring out of the box only makes your canvas untidy and nothing else. It also makes you a vile person and overshadows the little talent you have. If Vanga could redeem himself of such sins in the sequel, then it is definitely going to be a treat to watch.
A Good Backstory for the Villain
A majority of the people who watched Animal went to the cinema halls to witness Lord Bobby, but we didn’t see enough of him. Vanga could have really written a meaty backstory for his villain if he was actually trying to create a revenge saga. We didn’t see where Abrar Haque came from. What was his struggle and conflict while growing up with such a heavy conscience in his heart? Why did his grandfather kill himself? Abrar was the actual animal in the film, but what really made him so? What actually happened to his family when they were denied the inheritance? The director had so many territories to explore to make the film an interesting ride, but he chose cheap tricks to lure the audience. For most of Vanga’s characters, a decent backstory would have helped the characters establish their arcs, and in such a case, their transformation would have elevated the overall experience of the film. But he wasted much of his screen time on things that didn’t matter to the story.
We really hope that in Animal Park, Vanga will try to come up with a better arc for the villain and a backstory that will help build his case. Why did Aziz become a butcher? How did the family suffer after their grandfather’s death? How did they become so rich against all odds? And what do the brothers really want—revenge or wealth? There are so many things that the director can explore in the sequel, but seeing Animal’s post-credit scene, our expectations are low. Let’s just hope that Vanga might understand the need for a better-written script more than his verbal attacks on people. We know why he wrote Zoya in the post-credits scene: just to make the next film more about a love triangle than a revenge story. We really wish he didn’t go to that zone, as it will turn out to be yet another cliche that no one asked for.
Action Sequences for the Next Level
The background score and a few action sequences were the heart and soul of Vanga’s Animal. However, in the attempt to make such a long film, he really messed up those action sequences, which had the potential to stand out and become one of the greatest action sequences in Indian cinematic history. These sequences lacked finesse, probably because he exhausted himself and his budget by doing trivial things. Many of these scenes weren’t crisp enough, making them long and boring after a point in time. There is no denying that merging the action scenes with a high-adrenaline background score was a good choice on the director’s part. And at the cost of sounding repetitive, Animal could have been a better movie if it was about a son’s obsession to prove his worth to his father, leading to a revenge arc instead of the one we saw in theaters. As said earlier, Vanga is a great technician, and we hope to see some more violent action sequences in Animal Park, but along with that, we just want him to come up with a better story and much better characters. It should be about animals trapped in a human body and not just about animals hunting and killing themselves, falling prey to their inherent nature. If you have any suggestions or expectations for the sequel, then feel free to share them with us in the comment box.