Review: ‘Animal’ (2023), starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Rashmika Mandanna and Tripti Dimri

December 12, 2023

by Carla Hay

Ranbir Kapoor in “Animal” (Photo courtesy of AA Films)

“Animal” (2023)

Directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India and in the United States, the action film “Animal” features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A “bad boy” from a rich family gets into violent feuds with family members and other people. 

Culture Audience: “Animal” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and don’t mind watching long-winded movies with mindless plots and gory and excessive violence.

Cast members of “Animal.” Pictured sitting in front, from left to right: Adyaan Sachdeva, Suresh Oberoi and Ananya Bhati. Pictured standing in back, from left to right: Kalyan Vittapu, Siddhant Karnick, Saloni Batra, Anil Kapoor, Charu Shankar, Anshul Chauhan and Ranbir Kapoor. (Photo courtesy of AA Films)

Trashy, idiotic, and filled with disgusting bloody violence that’s overly repetitive, “Animal” is excruciatingly too long at about 200 minutes. This garbage movie has no redeeming qualities. It’s yet another stupid story about feuding and vengeful families. All of the acting performances are unimpressive. And to make things worse, by the end of this irritating dump of the movie, it’s obvious that it was made with a sequel in mind.

Written and directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, “Animal” has a very tiresome and over-used plot. A “rogue” goes on a killing sprees to gain power and to avenge things that happened to his family. If a movie like this is done right, audiences will root for this anti-hero. But when the central character is an unrelenting jerk with no charm or wit, there’s no reason to care.

Unfortunately, “Animal” (which takes place primarily in India and in the United States) panders to the lowest and worst possible choices on how this story could have gone. The movie has several characters who are just empty vessels for the awful dialogue that they have to spew. And the plot twists (especially in the film’s mid-credits scene) are just too ridiculous to take.

The central character in this moronic mess is Ranvijay “Vijay” Singh (played by Ranbir Kapoor), who is the rebellious son of Balbir Singh (played by Anil Kapoor), a wealthy business mogul. Balbir has inherited the Delhi-based company Swastik Steel, which he hopes to pass on to Vijay. Balbir, who is Swastik Steel’s CEO, is frustrated and worried that Vijay isn’t responsible enough to take over the company. Vijay’s history of getting into trouble has brought shame and scandal to the family.

The Singh family is a large clan that includes Balbir’s wife/Vijay’s mother Jyoti Singh (played by Charu Shankar), who is a typical “trophy wife” socialite. Vijay is the middle child with two siblings. Vijay’s older sister Reet Singh (played by Saloni Batra) is frequently embarrassed by Vijay. Vijay’s younger sister Roop Singh (played by Anshul Chauhan) is more tolerant of Vijay. Balbir is preoccupied with his work, so he often neglected his kids when they were growing up. This neglect is a touchy subject for Vijay, who has “daddy issues.”

Reet’s husband Varun Pratap Malhotra (played by Siddhant Karnick) is a high-ranking executive at Swastik Steel. Reet and Varun have two children: a son (played by Adyaan Sachdeva) and a daughter (played by Ananya Bhati). Other members of the family are Balbir’s father Rajdheer Dodamal Singh, nicknamed Dadaji (played by Suresh Oberoi), and Balbir’s mother Rani Kaur Singh, nicknamed Beeji (played by Madhu Raja), who don’t do much in the movie. Varun also has a brother (played by Kalyan Vittapu), who is a trusted confidant.

Near the beginning of the movie, Vijay is in his mid-20s, and the Singh family is attending the engagement party of a family friend named Gitanjali, nicknamed Gitu (played by Rashmika Mandanna), who has known Vjay since they were children and schoolmates. Vijay still has romantic feelings for Gitanjali, but this his idea of a complimentary pickup line: At the party, he tells Gitanjali that she has a wide pelvis, which is ideal for giving birth.

Vijay and Varun get into an argument at the party. Vijay tells Reet not to interfere. Upset and mortified that Vijay is causing a scene, his father takes him aside to scold him: “I thought you had grown up!”

It turns out that Vijay has returned to India after being sent away to boarding school in the United States. Why was he sent away? When he was a teenager, Vijay found out that some guys in Reet’s college were bullying her. In response (which the movie shows as a flashback), Vijay showed up at the school with an AK-47 rifle, went to a classroom where he knew the bullies would be, and shot the gun in the classroom to “scare” the bullies. Luckily, no one was hurt or killed.

One can assume that Vijay didn’t spend any time in jail for this heinous crime because of his father’s money and power. One can also assume that it’s just a way for the “Animal” filmmakers to show unnecessary violence for violence’s sake. It’s just one of many examples in the movie that demonstrate how much of an unstable and loathsome jerk Vijay is.

Incredibly, Vijay is able to convince Gitanjali to break off her engagement after he confesses to her that he’s been in love with her for years. Gitanjali and Vijay quickly get engaged, and then they elope for their wedding by going to a remote mountaintop for the ceremony. They arrive by a private plane, with Vijay as the pilot and Gitanjali as the only passenger.

For their honeymoon, Vijay has arranged for a king-sized bed to be placed outdoors on the airstrip. He thinks it would be romantic for them to have sex outdoors on this bed. At first, Gitanjali is reluctant and self-conscious, but changes her mind when Vijay convinces her that no on else will see them.

Vijay and Gitanjali also have sex in the airplane. Later, Vijay plays Gitanjali the “black box” recording of them having sex. He thinks it’s hilarious that Gitanjali didn’t know that everything had been recording without her knowledge or consent.

At the 60th birthday party of Balbir, Vijay has another argument with Varun. This time, a fed-up Balbir kicks Vijay out of the party. In anger, Vijay decides that he and Gitanjali will move to the United States and become estranged from his family. Vijay and Gitanjali start their own family in the United States, where their son and daughter are born. But since Vijay is a narcissistic cretin, the marriage runs into major problems for exactly the reasons you think it does.

Vijay’s estrangement from his parents and other family members lasts for eight years. Vijay ends up back in India after Balbir is nearly assassinated. Vijay finds out that a rival named Asrar Haque (played by Babloo Prithiveeraj) was behind this murder plot. Asrar has a brother named Abrar Haque (played by Bobby Deol), who works with Asrar in their dirty deals. And you know what that means for someone like Vijay: He’s going on a revenge rampage.

“Animal” is a tangled slog of betrayals, murders, family feuds, near-death experiences, spying, look-alikes deceiving people, and a bizarre and unnecessary scene where Vijay parades around his estate naked after an unrealistic medical transformation. It’s all so mind-numbing and senseless. And although Vijay and Gitanjali are married for several years in the story, he treats her with such disrespect, the movie fails to convince that Vijay could love anyone but himself.

Violence is expected for most action movies, but the murders and torture in “Animal” are done with such sadistic glee, it will surely make some viewers feel sick. In “Animal,” it’s not enough for someone to get slashed or stabbed. The slashing or stabbing is shown as overkill, with the murderer having an evil smirk while getting soaked in the victim’s blood.

Toward the end of this soulless movie, “Animal” has one of the weirdest-looking showdown scenes you’ll ever see, with body contortions that would not be in a real fight. And it’s one of those “only in a movie” showdowns where henchmen thugs just stand around and watch instead of helping their leader. Viewers will despise “Animal” even more for how everything just gets dragged out for too long in this scene. People are tortured in the movie, but anyone who watches all of “Animal” experiences the torture of a horrible movie that is too long and takes itself too seriously.

AA Films released “Animal” in U.S. cinemas and in India on December 1, 2023.

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