The Stars of ‘Brahmāstra’ and Their Impact on Indian Culture

Brahmāstra: Part One — Shiva is set to break records as one of India’s most expensive and most spectacular films this summer. Written and directed by Ayan Mukerji, Brahmāstra tells the story of Shiva, an orphan with pyrokinetic powers who discovers he’s an ‘astra’ — a weapon of powerful energy. The film — which is set to be a trilogy — draws inspiration from Hindu mythology.

The film stars Ranbir Kapoor as Shiva and Alia Bhatt as his love interest, Isha. Together, they embark on a journey to find out who Shiva truly is and how they can save their universe. Off Colour’s Keshav Kant spoke with the famous duo about the film and working on a film that touches on Indian folklore.

You both have had a hectic year; it’s been wild. So I just want to ask, how are you both doing?

Alia Bhatt: Great! I mean, every day is a new adventure; every day is exciting. And yeah, it’s been it’s been a hectic year, but I don’t think we like it any other way. At least I don’t like it any other way.

Ranbir Kapoor: Apart from us having a child together, I think a big moment for us is the culmination of Brahmāstra that it’s finally releasing. It’s a film that we’ve been working on since five years. So very excited. Very nervous. Very anxious.

You talked a bit about how Brahmāstra had some setbacks, things taking some time. Part of it was the fact that you had to shoot around the globe, Edinburgh, New York Varanasi, and then the pandemic. What were those challenges like for you?

Alia Bhatt: We didn’t actually shoot in New York. I mean, we would love to shoot in New York, but, yeah, I think the vision of Brahmāstra was so massive that I don’t think we really— I mean, you knew what you were getting into, but no one anticipated how much time it would have taken.

Maybe if we got into saying, okay guys see you like seven years later, or five years later, or whatever, it would have been fine. We also got hit by COVID. But I think the beauty of just anything is that eventually, everybody forgets the amount of time that it took. It’s all just a part of that conversation. That’s, you know, that feels like okay, all this effort was something that we needed to put in so that we could get to a product like this.

I loved that the movie touches on a lot of Hindu stories and things like Shiv Ji’s Trishul, Vishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra, and, obviously, the Brahmāstra. What was it like working on a film that adapted those religious themes and iconography into essentially a fantasy flick?

Ranbir Kapoor: Brahmāstra is a grand celebration of a rich and unique Indian culture. It is a fantasy film; it is a fictitious film. But I think just to be inspired by our stories, which is so rich in culture, our Indian mythological stories. We’ve been hearing and watching the Ramayana and Mahabharata adaptations, getting inspired by them and adapting them to a new world. Brahmāstra is set in today’s contemporary world; I think it was a very original story.

Usually, films of this nature are based on books. Stories that have been written over the years. But I think the challenge with Brahmāstra was that Ayan had to write it from scratch; he had to write the entire story, which which happens over three parts. And as actors, it was very important for us to understand the characters he was trying to tell with the story. And I think that was the extremely challenging part that Alia and I had to go through all these years. And then, you know, it’s an entertaining film the way it was written. It’s made for the large screen experience. Yeah, I think the challenge was just to understand that.

Check out the full interview with Off Colour’s Keshav Kant below: