Brahmastra director Ayan Mukerji talks about the success of the film, learnings from criticism of the film’s dialogue and his reaction to those doubting the film’s box office success.
Brahmastra Part One- Shiva has grossed over ₹400 crore globally. That’s a fact verified by multiple sources. No Hindi film has made as much money in the last three years. And yet, there are many that still won’t term the film a hit. Director Ayan Mukerji doesn’t seem to care though. The film has managed to bring audiences back to the theatres after a long lull where Bollywood films were biting the dust. In a candid chat with Hindustan Times, Ayan opens up about his relief at Brahmastra’s success, what it means for the industry, and reaction to naysayers and doubting Thomases. Also read: Ayan Mukerji promises ‘better dialogues’ in Brahmastra Part 2 after trolling
Brahmastra began production in 2015, with the shoot beginning in 2017 itself. It took a long while and almost a decade of Ayan’s life before the film was released. Now that it has succeeded and been liked by the audience, the filmmaker is both happy and relieved. Ayan shares, “There is happiness, relief, euphoria also at points. But I will admit there is a little bit of focus on the future. I am a little surprised by the responsibility I feel to instantly start working. People close to me are telling me it’s really important to disconnect for a bit and take that break. That rejuvenation is needed for the future. But, the game of this trilogy and the Astraverse–things I had been working on for years–is really taking flight now. That excitement is there.”
Prior to the release of Brahmastra, several big budget Bollywood films–from Laal Singh Chaddha to Shamshera–had failed at the box office. Many wondered if Bollywood was ‘finished’. Some even asked Ayan and his actors–Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt–if it was the right ‘climate’ to release the film, given the perceived anti-Bollywood sentiment and constant boycott calls. Ayan is glad that the film’s success has managed to bring some positivity to the discourse about Hindi films. “We have definitely had a positive impact in energizing the movie conversation and going to the cinemas. As any successful film does, this has left some positivity behind. I feel very good about it. It’s one of the nice things we have managed to accomplish with our film and it makes me feel very happy,” he says.
The filmmaker says he was taken aback by some of the positive feedback the film saw, particularly people’s fan theories about certain characters and moments in the film. He says, “It definitely seems to have seeped into pop culture and water cooler conversations as they call it. A lot of people are discussing it, which is great. Some of that has happened more than I imagined. The amount of theories that came in about what is going to happen; I didn’t know if we’d get that. There are a lot of wins with this film.”
But there has been criticism too. Many found the dialogues very cringe worthy. Others felt the romantic angle of the film wasn’t strong enough. Ayan says he and his team are making note of all this feedback for a better, improved Part Two. “There has been feedback on things like dialogues could have been better, some people are not convinced with some aspects of the love story. We are making films for our audiences so there is 100% desire to take that learning and improve for the future,” says Ayan.
And even as the film continues to make money, many are wondering if it is a hit. There have been various figures floating around saying the film’s budget exceeds what it has earned and hence it still can’t be called a hit, despite its massive box office haul. Ayan feels he doesn’t need to clear the air on all that. “The kind of person I am, I feel so strange to be tom-tomming about yourself or your film. It feels like the verdict on the film is out there. We are moving with a lot of energy into our future. I think the success of the film is speaking for itself. I shouldn’t have to say anything else,” says the director.