New Delhi: A bunch of Hindi, Hollywood and regional films vie for attention this week.
In his action spy thriller Naam Shabana starring Taapsee Pannu, Manoj Bajpayee and Prithviraj Sukumaran, director Shivam Nair seems to have been more focused on making a film that can be labelled “women-centric”, rather than creating a woman character of some worth, says Firstpost. In the absence of an engaging protagonist and well-thought-out script, what we get are efficiently choreographed action sequences, a slick appearance and a pace that is impressive at first until it adds up to nought when glaring loopholes and many unanswered whys start calling out. Although Pannu is first-rate in many fight scenes, Shabana is half-baked and her acting off the mark.
The Indian Express agrees the film is a drag. Except for a few stray sequences in which the limber Pannu faces up to the bad guys, and the ones in which co-star Akshay Kumar (in a cameo) moves in to demonstrate how the big boys do it, there is nothing either novel or interesting about the film. Pannu gets a role many leading ladies would kill for, and she is believable when she is throwing punches, and getting punched in turn, but right through she is strangely held in, and strictly one-note.
Rahul Bose’s directorial venture Poorna starring him along with Aditi Inamdar is a relatively straightforward tale elevated by grounded performances and stirring music, says The Times Of India. Tasked with weaving the tale of Poorna, the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest, writers Prashant Pandey and Shreya Dev Verma add compelling elements to the protagonist’s character which Inamdar plays with innocence and naiveté. Under Bose’s direction, she hits most of the significant emotional beats with fellow newcomer S. Mariya who plays her cousin Priya, though Inamdar’s strongest scenes are alongside Bose himself.
For the Hollywood fans, American 3D computer animated comedy The Boss Baby directed by Tom McGrath starring the voices of Alec Baldwin, Miles Christopher Bakshi, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow and Tobey Maguire comes to India this week. Variety magazine says the jokey lark from DreamWorks Animation is a visually brisk, occasionally clever low-concept comedy that’s also trying, half-heartedly, to be some sort of Pixarish masterpiece. You may wind up wishing that it had been one or the other. Instead of taking us deeper into a child’s reality the way Inside Out did, The Boss Baby is at once overly busy and oddly detached from a child’s reality. The conceit stays locked on that one literal level, and so basically we’re watching an elaborately kooky junior buddy movie that pretends to be about “experience” but is really about throwing an overly arduous chase comedy in the audience’s face.
The Boss Baby has interesting visual textures, a few good jokes and Baldwin has fun, says Empire magazine. But these elements never transcend an odd premise that fails to deliver big laughs or emotional heft. It’s a scattershot approach that informs the entire film. The Boss Baby is hopped up on energy but never harnesses it effectively. There are laughs and heart buried in this idea somewhere. Shame the film is too hyperactive to find them.
Iranian drama The Salesman directed by Asghar Farhadi and starring Taraneh Alidoosti and Shahab Hosseini morphs from a quiet family drama to a low-key tale of revenge, and is all the more impressive for how seamlessly it executes that shift. But as tense as the revenge quest gets, The Salesman still falls short of the devastating heights Farhadi has hit with his best films (along with A Separation, the brilliantly-calibrated About Elly, also starring Alidoosti, is a vital work). The Salesman’s conclusion, while gripping, feels somewhat pat, focusing on a confrontation that wraps things up too neatly and quickly. Read more
The Guardian calls it a well-crafted, valuable drama and a smart, ambitious film. The Salesman is trying harder for a bigger effect and bigger pay-off than Farhadi’s previous films, and it doesn’t have the enigmatic quality of A Separation. But the sheer IQ of Farhadi’s film-making makes this very watchable.
In the south, Tamil social thriller Kavan directed by K. V. Anand starring Vijay Sethupathi and Madonna Sebastian benefits from a solid script and taut screenplay, says tamilglitz.in. The comedy may be unnecessary in parts but Sethupathi steals the show along with T.Rajendar who comes in the second half.
Telugu sports drama Guru directed by Sudha Kongara Prasad, a remake of her Hindi film Saala Khadoos, starring Venkatesh and Ritika Singh, is high on content and emotion, says telugumirchi.com. Venkatesh is an asset to the film while Singh is inspiring in her own way.
Malayalam film The Great Father directed by Haneef Adeni starring Mammooty, Arya and Suhasini Rajaram Naidu is a part-endearing and part-heroic tale of a dad who goes to the bravest extent to bring justice to his daughter, says The Times Of India. On the whole though, despite a sensible foundation and plot, the film doesn’t offer anything artful, other than a handful of ‘mass entertainer’ scenes. The performances, however, deserve applause.
Marathi flick Kanika directed by Pushkar Manohar, starring Sharad Ponkshe, is a horror film with a social message, a strange combination to begin with, made worse progressively by the script and final result, says Pune Mirror. The absence of a logical pattern, hamming actors, holes in the plot’s logic together demand some serious suspension of disbelief from the audience. The characters casually misrepresent facts for no apparent reason, are misinformed and take silly decisions even by horror film standards. The supernatural phenomenon is equally random, and gradually moves from creepy to unintentionally funny.
Tamil horror thriller Dora and Kannada romantic drama Manasu Malligey, a remake of Marathi blockbuster Sairat, haven’t elicited any reviews yet.