February 2, 2024
A bloody battle unfolds in a hotel. Flanked by Sikh henchmen, a man plows through hundreds of men sporting shiny animal masks with an ax, their blood splattering the walls of the hotel and his white kurta like fresh paint. His henchmen are there for ancillary reasons: instead of helping him directly, they sing “Arjan Vailly,” a Punjabi anthem to egg him on. Spurred, their boss-man brings out a giant machine gun, holds it between his legs, and shoots an impressive load of bullets, annihilating his opposition.
If the recent tilt toward machismo-fueled Indian movies is any indication, Animal was a gigantic hit, minting $92.8 million globally, returning over 8x its $12 million budget. With Animal now out on Netflix, the discourse around the movie has amped up once more, with social media posts both celebrating and decrying the movie weeks after its December 2023 release. And yet, rarely has there been this much dialogue over a film so profoundly amateurish and gauche. Animal centers a protagonist betrayed by nuance and logic. Instead, we realize with horror, Vanga has assembled a movie precisely to get a rise out of its audience.