Not since ‘Why Katappa killed Baahubali’ gripped India’s chai point discussions has there been another puzzle given to the viewers by Indian cinema. That changed last month though when Brahmastra Part One released and introduced a new mysterious character–Dev. The character, so far, only shown as a faceless mysterious villain, will be front and centre in Part Two. And already the internet is abuzz with fan theories about who it could be. In a recent chat with Hindustan Times, Brahmastra director Ayan Mukerji opened up on Dev’s off-screen identity and the roadmap for the trilogy. Also read: Ayan Mukerji reacts to those casting doubts on Brahmastra’s box office success
Ever since Dev was revealed in Brahmastra Part One-Shiva, fans have speculated who played him. Everyone from Ranveer Singh to Hrithik Roshan and even Shah Rukh Khan has been put forward as a candidate. When asked if it was either of these actors or just a stunt double who played the character in Brahmastra, Ayan answers with a laugh, “I will not answer your question, but I love these theories. It is part of the fun of this storytelling.”
Just like Part One focused on Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor), Part Two of Brahmastra will be about Dev. Naturally, the character is fully formed in Ayan’s mind. He admits that thoughts about the character and the actor who plays him were almost concrete as early as 2019. “The conversation, the vision, and the actor for Part Two Dev were very developed by around 2019. There was a point at which in the middle of making Part One, we really found the time to start pursuing this whole Dev vision. The real Brahmastra story and conflict comes alive in Part Two. In terms of Dev, I will go out on a limb and say he is possibly the most exciting character that I will be taking on in my career so far. I am extremely thrilled about the potential of Dev and I hope things align for us in the next three years in a way where we can be able to give you guys in our minds for this,” says Ayan.
But even as he sidesteps questions about Dev’s identity now, there was a point when he was all set to reveal the actor in Brahmastra 1 itself. Ayan says, “To be honest, for a long time, we were going to end the film with even the face reveal of Dev’s character. It was with a lot of thought and a desire to create some curiosity in the minds of the audiences that we ended the film where we did.”
Dev opens the next chapter of the Brahmastra trilogy. Ayan had always envisioned the saga as three films and part of a new cinematic universe he calls the Astraverse. He says he often found himself wanting to move on to Part Two even before finishing the first. “Some stuff, I myself, was thinking about very differently for the future. Even 2-3 years ago, I had my eyes set on what we could really create with Part Two- Dev, and honestly beyond that. That was so exciting a part of me wanted to jump to it right away,” the filmmaker says.
The success of Brahmastra Part One–it has earned ₹400 crore globally– has made this trilogy officially possible now. But Ayan says he would have fought for his vision even if the film hadn’t worked at the box office like it has. He shares, “There are also certain market forces that dictate the destiny of a film. I’m not a tycoon yet. Would I have fought for the vision of Astraverse? Yes, I would have, because I am willing to sacrifice a lot to see this come to life. I really believe it is a very exciting, new road ahead. But I needed the success of Part One to truly energise me to fully be able to keep paying the price and sacrificing to take it on. I was waiting a little bit to see how Part One would go. It’s gone well, and I feel that energy.”