Like it or hate it, Animal is here to stay! The Sandeep Reddy Vanga action-drama is certainly the most talked-about Indian film at the moment, thanks to its controversial subject matter. The audience reactions to the film have been polarizing, ranging from “harbinger of toxic misogyny” to “insanely glorious action-spectacle.” If Animal hasn’t worked for you, then the best course of action would be to stay away and move on, but if the film has turned out to be your jam and you’re done with all the discoursing and arguing on the internet, then you are probably looking for similar films to vibe with. No two films are quite the same, but I have made an attempt here to make a list of movies that might remind you of Vanga’s Animal, or at least some aspect of it. And no, this list doesn’t have Godfather and Kabir Singh, because you’ve already heard about them many times in conversations about Animal.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Think about the twenty-minute, highly stylized action sequence right before the interval of Animal. The entirety of George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is basically that: a relentless action spectacle that goes on and on until the curtains are drawn. Touted as one of the greatest action films of our time as well as ever made in the history of cinema, Mad Max: Fury Road tells the story of this guy, Max, a survivor in a fictional wasteland, who joins hands with the fearless warrior Furiosa in her battle against the tyrannical Immortan Joe. The idea is rather one-noted, but Miller puts the whole thing in a road-movie blend, and the whole movie is basically Joe and his guys chasing Max, Furiosa, and a group of Joe’s concubines that they are saving from the evil villain.
Conceived as early as 1998, it took almost two decades of effort before Miller could finally put the film in front of the audience. When he finally did it, though, it was a phenomenon. Tom Hardy played Max, but the real deal here was Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, an iconic character who is rightfully getting a prequel in 2024 (also directed by Miller, where Anya Taylor-Joy is playing the younger version). Nicholas Hoult as Nux, one of Joe’s guys, was very impressive and probably delivered his career-best performance in Mad Max: Fury Road.
In Animal, Ranbir Kapoor’s character gives a whole monologue about what being an alpha male really means to him. If you plan on delving into that matter a bit further, then the psychological satire American Psycho, which was released way back in 2000, should be your go-to film.
Christian Bale plays one of the most iconic and controversial movie characters in cinema, Patrick Bateman, who works as an investment banker in New York City but also moonlights as a methodical serial killer. There is an intriguing twist to the whole matter, and the film makes it a point to deliver social commentary about capitalism and the white male privilege of the 80’s America, which still seems as relevant as ever. A box office success at the time of its release, American Psycho not only developed a huge cult following but has also experienced another round of freshly squeezed fame over the last four to five years thanks to the current culture of memes and terms like sigma male suddenly getting attention.
There are high chances that you’ve already watched Sooryavansham at least once (or more than once, most likely) in your life, thanks to the content executives of the Set Max TV channel, but how can I not put this film on this list, especially when we have a difficult father-son relationship at the core of Animal? If you don’t get the joke, then you are one of the lucky ones who will be able to experience Sooryavansham for the first time in your life and realize what an epic this film is.
Certainly not as violent and visceral as Vanga’s Animal, Sooryavansham also tells the story of a son who would go any distance to prove his worthiness to a disapproving father. Here, though, the son leaves his paternal home as his father refuses to accept his marriage. The entire film focuses on the son’s never-ending journey of fixing things while also evolving as a human being. This is obviously a very dated film, but it is also very fun and engaging to watch. The icing on the cake? Amitabh Bachchan played the dual role of both the father and the son. So, in case you are looking for another father-son odyssey after Animal, grab a bowl of kheer (you’ll get this when you watch it, I promise) and tune into Sooryavansham.
There’s no harm in suggesting another film with an alpha male at the center of it, especially if it is as cool as Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 punk action drama, Drive. Starring Ryan Gosling as the unnamed driver as well as the narrator, this is the story of this no-nonsense sigma guy falling in love with a neighbor and eventually protecting the woman and her son from every other sigma around, including her worthless husband, who happens to be a convict.
Refn throws a heist story in the middle to add another layer to it, which works brilliantly in favor of Drive. What further works here is the neon-drenched camera work, an ultra-cool soundtrack, and a superlative supporting cast consisting of every single popular and talented person, from Carey Mulligan to Bryan Cranston to Christina Hendricks to even Oscar Isaac, who plays the husband. Drive is certainly the greatest film made by Refn since his iconic Pusher trilogy and has rightfully earned cult status.
I Saw the Devil
One of the highlights of Animal has to be the twisted revenge angle. If that’s your thing, then I Saw the Devil might be a very good option for you. The 2010 South Korean psychological thriller tells the story of an intelligence officer who sets off down the violent path of revenge against a psychopathic murderer thanks to his pregnant girlfriend being brutally murdered by the killer.
Often regarded as one of the most twisted as well as violent genre films ever made, the strength of I Saw the Devil lies in the fantastic, tightly-written screenplay and crisp editing. During the release, the film went through a lot of controversies thanks to the violent content, and there are several alternative versions of it. If you are a Bollywood aficionado, then you might look into the 2014 Mohit Suri film Ek Villain, which takes a lot of inspiration from I Saw the Devil and does a fairly good job as an unofficial adaptation.
The Raid is the story of an Indonesian police squad in Jakarta whose mission is to apprehend a drug lord by raiding the villain’s den. But when they go to do it, they face an uphill battle against the army of the drug lord inside an apparent block. Just like Mad Max: Fury Road, this Gareth Evans film also doesn’t look substantial premise-wise, but when you watch it unfold on the screen, you realize what an epic this actually is.
Rightfully hailed as one of the greatest modern-day action films, The Raid heavily relies on its pulsating action set pieces, which come one after another, and the film doesn’t waste much time to get there. Not to mention, the action is exhilarating and has been filmed exceptionally well. If a severe lack of action in the second half of Vanga’s Animal has made you feel a little morose, then The Raid will surely cheer you up. And the even better thing here is that the film has a sequel, titled The Raid 2 (2014), which is almost as great as the first film.
Alright, here comes a surprise for you. I understand that you absolutely didn’t expect to see a Satyajit Ray film in a list where I’m supposed to suggest films that have the same vibe as Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal, but trust me, I am not overreaching here. This Ray film is also about the relationships between a father and his four sons. Ajit Banerjee plays the aging father, whereas acting stalwarts of the Bengali film industry—Haradhan Banerjee, Soumitra Chatterjee, Deepankar Dey, and Ranjit Mullick—all produce scintillating performances as the sons. Chatterjee’s performance as the second son, Proshanto, an academically brilliant but mentally unstable man, is certainly the pick of the lot.
Ray, who himself was quite old with a lot of health issues, directs the film with a lot of conviction, and the result can be seen on the screen. His usage of European classical music in the film is a rarity in Bengali cinema, and that only takes the film to a new height. Obviously, this film doesn’t share the same DNA of madness as Animal, but for its central theme, Shakha Proshakha does deserve a place in this list.
Mission Impossible: 2
Are you asking why, or have you already figured this one out? Because last I checked, Vanga’s Animal has a big plot twist that is based on the concepts of plastic surgery as well as using honey traps to lure the male protagonist. And so does John Woo’s stylish sequel to Brian De Palma’s first film in the MI franchise.
Not only does the 2000 film present Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt in all his glory, but this is also the film where Cruise uses Nyah (played by Thandie Newton) as a mole in order to get to his nemesis, another rogue agent, Sean (Dougray Scott in his only memorable role). Nyah being a former lover of Sean adds another layer of twist here, which heightens the fun. I admit plastic surgeries and face masks are not at all the same thing, but the way people put on each other’s faces in Mission Impossible: 2 does remind you of Vanga’s idea of making a villain take the face of his protagonist with the help of a facial surgery plot.
The Empire Strikes Back
It would have been blasphemy to leave out The Empire Strikes Back, aka Star Wars Episode V, which is clearly the father of all daddy-issues films. I am not sure whether Sandeep Reddy Vanga is a Star Wars fan and got some inspiration from here or not, but every single film that builds the story upon a father-son relationship should ideally be compared with the 1980 George Lukas film.
There isn’t really much to say about what this film is about, but you should probably watch the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV before getting into this one to completely understand the plot. In case you don’t want to go through that, you can always check the synopsis on Wikipedia to get the basics of who’s who and what the thing is about. The important thing about The Empire Strikes Back is that, in spite of being a franchise film in the space-western genre, the cultural impact it has is unimaginable. That’s especially why, Star Wars nerd or not, you should at least watch this film once in your life. If not for anything, then you should just watch it to find out what’s all the fuss about the greatest plot twist ever (you’ll know what I’m talking about here if you watch).
What’s better than the most iconic Ranbir Kapoor film to cap this off? While the verdict on Animal is polarizing, if there’s one thing upon which everyone can agree, then that has to be its leading actor, Ranbir Kapoor, being nothing short of absolutely phenomenal in the film. However, Kapoor is not the only reason for me to put Rockstar on this list. In many ways, Kapoor’s characters in Rockstar and Animal are actually similar. Sure, the supremely talented musician from the Imtiaz Ali film didn’t go on a murder spree like the protagonist from Vanga’s Animal, but there’s a thematic likeness in the way Kapoor presents these two. Being a fantastic actor, he plays the Animal character in a way that the audience doesn’t have a problem distinguishing from everything else, but Kapoor smartly infuses the same angst that he had throughout Rockstar.
Not to mention, both of these characters, Jordan and Vijay, effectively embark on a downward spiral, and things don’t quite end well for them. Jordan and Vijay’s obsession over love and his father’s approval, respectively, is another reason Rockstar and Animal should be put on the same podium. Animal has worked for me mostly, but Rockstar still remains the peak Ranbir Kapoor performance.