If you have the habit while watching films of visualizing yourself being able to enact scenes in them to see if the actors there really have any special talent that you do not have, and usually come to the conclusion that you can do it too, then you should watch Brahmastram. The universal truth is that most people’s inspiration to take on a new art or sport comes from watching the most talented and successful people do it, since they make it look so simple and enjoyable. It is only when we see lesser people struggling at the same art or sport, that we really know how tough it can be.
In Brahmastram, Jagapati Babu takes on a role too complicated for him. He has to play a man raised in complete isolation from the world, merging into it suddenly. That requires both a talented writer who can come up with the scores of small incidents needed to flesh out that character convincingly, and an actor who can pull it off with the right expressions.
Jagapati may have his niches, but he has his weaknesses too, and they are on display here. The result is, you get to understand how difficult it can be to essay a role like this. That might not have been the case if, say, a Kamal Hasan took this on. And the reason we bring this up right at the beginning is that a big reason the film fails is that Jagapati cannot bring that complicated character to life.
Brahmastram is, if you care, a remake of Unleashed, a Jet Li film, which worked, even if modestly, since the hero needed to be a great fighter, and Jet Li certainly delivers on that. Jagapati is no trained fighter either, so that does not become the raison d’etre to watch the film, and the focus turns to tough things like characterization. Which is the reason for the alas.
Bangaram (Jagapati Babu) loses his memory in a childhood traumatic incident, and is raised by the evil Rudra (Ashish Vidyarthi), who strictly keeps him in a cage in a cellar of his house and raises him into a ruthless fighter who is otherwise quite unkempt and uncivilized, cannot even speak properly, and eats just raw meat. Rudra uses him as his ultimate goon when he gets into problems in his dealings with the rest of the underworld, and eventually starts making money off him by putting him in WWF-style ring fights.
When an enemy of Rudra gets him shot and bombs his den, Bangaram manages to escape with infuries, and lands in the home of Vasudev (Kalabhavan Mani), a blind man who lives with his daughter Gayatri (Neha Oberoi).
The two and their neighbouring kids slowly civilize the wild Bangaram, and he and Gayatri fall in love. But in a sudden twist, Rudra returns, and stakes claim to Bangaram. Bangaram does not want to go, but Rudra tells him something that changes his priorities and brings out the wild animal in him again.
The film, aside of an inadequate performance by Jagapati, has several other problems. Gayatri’s reasons for falling in love with Bangaram, who has no education and no civilization, are way off the fringe of reason. Then, the romance has no soul – in Munnabhai MBBS, for example, the whole part of how the girl falls in love with someone similarly loutish was handled quite elaborately.
And there are some pieces of sheer nonsense, like how Rudra picks up the kid – deciding to feed and train him for the next 15 years – just since the kid is enraged that his parents have been killed, which makes Rudra think he will be a great asset. That’s some long-term investment for a small-time goon.
Neha Oberoi (you saw her in Balu) is decent, and so are all other actors. But nothing else in the film deserves any mention. The comedy track, involving Brahmanandam, Venu Madhav and M S Narayana, is routine fare, and sometimes gets gross.
The only reason you might want to watch this is that it will be very easy to get tickets – at least for the first 3-4 weeks. After that, it will be very tough.