As the clock struck 12 on January 1, T-Series and screenwriter-director Sandeep Reddy Vanga uploaded an image of a blood-stained Ranbir Kapoor lighting a cigarette and clutching an axe under a muscular arm. Oh, and not to forget, Kapoor dons a beard reminiscent of Yash’s Rocky Bhai from the pan-Indian KGF franchise.
“Brave & ready to take over 2023! It’s the year of #Animal” The caption reads with the post serving as the first look for the Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Animal, a gangster drama that would find Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh director Vanga charter familiar territory, that of hypermasculine bearded men with antiheroic tendencies.
What do we know so far? The poster is reminiscent of the aforementioned Kannada franchise KGF as well as the Allu Arjun-led Pushpa: The Rise (Arjun is currently shooting for the sequel). So, understandably, Animal is a crime drama with probably a pan-Indian market in sight.
The film’s current IMDb synopsis vaguely reads, “A gangster drama that explores the turbulent relationships between all the characters that eventually lead to the protagonist becoming an 'animal' in nature”. Animal is expected to release on August 11, 2023.
Who else is in the cast? Brahmastra’s Shiva will be joined by an ensemble including the likes of Anil Kapoor, Rashmika Mandanna, Bobby Deol, and Triptii Dimri. While Kapoor is no stranger to crime dramas, even Bobby Deol has also witnessed a career resurgence of sorts with OTT crime-centric stories like The Class of 83, Ashram, and more recently in Love Hostel.
As for the leading lady, there has been a major change. Even though the official title announcement from two years ago announced Parineeti Chopra as the leading lady, now the heroine seems to be Rashmika Mandanna, the Tamil-Kannada (and occasionally Hindi and Telugu) actress who has had a rising career with hits like Pushpa and Sita Ramam. Chopra, in contrast, is unfortunately fading into obscurity with disasters like The Girl on the Train, Saina, and Code Name: Tiranga. However, no official reason has been given with this casting change.
Going by Vanga’s track record with Arjun Reddy and its Hindi remake, Mandanna might be reduced to a damsel in distress. Triptii Dimri’s inclusion seems quite unexpected given that she has mostly appeared in story-driven niche films like Qala (read our review here), Bulbbul, and Laila Majnu. Animal would mark her first foray into the ‘masala’ action blockbuster genre.
What else is Ranbir Kapoor working on? Last year, Brahmastra kicked off the Astraverse but details on the sequels are still vague. Apart from Animal, Kapoor will also be appearing in Luv Ranjan’s next directorial venture this year.
Titled Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar, the romantic comedy will also star Shraddha Kapoor and is slated for a release date of March 8. Dimple Kapadia will be appearing in a supporting role with even producer Boney Kapoor making his acting debut!
Is Ranbir aiming for a pan-Indian status? Securing production from the Bhushan Kumar-fronted T-Series as well as his own elder brother Pranay Vanga (who also produced Arjun Reddy), Vanga might be vying for his native Telugu audience as well as other South Indian languages like Kannada, Tamil, and Malayalam.
While RRR, KGF, and Pushpa were all simultaneously released in Hindi dubs, Bollywood is also trying to tap into the South with regional dubs as theatrical releases. This could be seen in the case of Brahmastra with Pathaan following suit this January.
In the poster, Ranbir Kapoor’s name is prefixed with a “Superstar”, another common advertising trope for several male superstars of the South Indian industries. So, while the attempt to make Kapoor a pan-Indian star seems evident, whether he would achieve it or not, that will be seen this August.