New Delhi: After a relatively dull couple of weeks, there is much action in movie theatres this Friday. A bunch of exciting Hindi films compete with big south Indian releases with the latter also trying to cash in on the festive Pongal weekend.

Black comedy Kaalakaandi starring Saif Ali Khan directed by Akshat Verma is neither risqué nor risk-taking enough, says Scroll. Verma, who wrote the magnificent Delhi Belly in 2011, didn’t think his screenplay through enough. Kaalakaandi braids together various narrative strands that unfold after-hours. Despite some clever conversational humour and gags, these strands struggle to leave an imprint. Verma’s best writing is reserved for Khan, who moves smoothly between behaviour that is outrageous and touching, delivers whacky lines with aplomb, and conveys the movie’s desired madcap quality without a trace of self-consciousness.

Anurag Kashyap’s sports drama Mukkabaaz starring Vineet Kumar Singh and Jimmy Shergill is a robust, raucous, rollicking ride through the muck of casteism, corruption and callousness, says NDTV. It defies expectations on many counts and eschews the shrill jingoism that is associated with Indian sports films. The screenplay, which is credited to six writers, yields a lively, engaging film that is akin to a boxing bout - ballsy, no blows barred, filled with non-stop action, and marked by nifty footwork. A propulsive musical score by Rachita Arora adds an extra layer of muscle to the film.

This is a film whose lack of ostensible polish works to enhance its rough-and-tumble flavour, says The Indian Express: Kashyap and the film are at its most sure-footed when they are calling out discrimination, across the board. That’s when their punches land in exactly the right place. With Mukkabaaz, the director is back in his zone, reflecting contemporary society and its fault lines, in a film which melds sports, romance, gender, disability, caste and class.

For the Hollywood fans, American political thriller The Post directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks comes to India this week. Variety magazine calls it a bustlingly entertaining—and timely—docudrama about how the Pentagon Papers shifted American journalism’s relationship to power. It’s a heady, jam-packed docudrama that, with confidence and great filmmaking verve (though not what you’d call an excess of nuance), tells a vital American story of history, journalism, politics, and the way those things came together over a couple of fateful weeks in the summer of 1971.

American satirical science fiction film Downsizing directed by Alexander Payne starring Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, and Kristen Wiig has a crazy-making amount of stuff on its mind, says The Wall Street Journal. The basic premise is intriguing and visually delightful: a scientific breakthrough that could solve overpopulation and reduce humanity’s impact on the environment to sustainable proportions by shrinking people to a tiny fraction of their normal size. But there is no way to know if the premise is sustainable, because it keeps morphing into larger and fuzzier notions about consumerism, sterile suburbs, economic inequality and an impending apocalypse linked to a sour twist on survivalism.

In the south, Tamil action comedy Gulaebaghavali starring Prabhu Deva and Hansika Motwani directed by S. Kalyan Kumar is a mindless caper that relies on its laughs to help the viewer ride through the logic loopholes, says The Indian Express. It generates an entire gamut of moments. There are the genuine laugh-worthy moments, absolute cringe-worthy ones, moments where you laugh and judge yourself a second later and moments where you judge other people for laughing. The best metaphor to describe Gulaebaghavali is ECG — amid the drops and flatlines, there are few highs as well.

Tamil comedy Thaanaa Serndha Koottam directed by Vignesh Shivan starring Suriya and Keerthy Suresh is a wholesome family entertainer, says film critic Sreedhar Pillai. The film is a great pacy fun ride with great performances by Suriya and Ramya Krishnan.

Telugu film Agnyaathavaasi directed by Trivikram Srinivas starring Pawan Kalyan feels like an absolute farce, two words which one would have never used to describe a Srinivas film until now, says Firstpost. Its biggest undoing is its incoherent storytelling, which leaves you perplexed for almost the entire length of the first half, and even when it feels like things are back on track, it never rises above its serious flaws. One does laugh at times, thanks to some genuinely funny sequences but most of the time, the joke is on us. Tailor-made for Kalyan, it doesn’t take too long for us to figure out what a glorious mess the film turns out to be.

Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Vikram Bhatt’s horror film 1921, Tamil action thriller Sketch, Malayalam comedy Daivame Kaithozham K. Kumarakanam, Kannada comedy Humble Politician Nograj and Marathi film Barayan.

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