New Delhi: With a bunch of Hindi and regional offerings, it’s a fairly cluttered week at the movies.

Meghna Gulzar’s period thriller Raazi starring Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal works hard to glide over the absurdity and soft jingoism of its source material, says Scroll. Raazi is utterly serious in its treatment of the idea of a weaponised Kashmiri woman who offers her body in the service of her nation. The moth-eaten story would not be out of place in 1960s Hindi cinema but it’s packaged with the elements that characterise present-day Bollywood: realistic performances, crisply edited sequences and skillful production design. As Bhatt delivers a compelling and impressive central performance as a spy who betrays her family, there’s no hand-wringing sentimentality or obvious flag-waving. Despite this, the movie is unable to liberate itself of the outlandishness and questionable themes of the novel on which it is based.

Firstpost is more impressed, calling Meghna Gulzar’s latest directorial venture, based on Harinder S. Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat, a heart-stopping, heartbreaking espionage drama, the beauty of which lies in the fact that, in the era of chest-thumping nationalism and hate-mongering that we live in, this India-Pakistan saga holds out an unexpected healing touch. As much as it is a poignant story of human relations, Raazi is also a suspense thriller tautly executed, the unrelenting parade of risks and unexpected twists owes as much to Meghna’s conviction as to Nitin Baid’s brisk editing, Kunal Sharma’s intelligently crafted sound design and the nerve-wracking background score by Shankar Ehsaan Loy & Tubby. The lynchpin of this enterprise is Bhatt’s stupendous performance as Sehmat, with the young star once again displaying the maturity and confidence of a veteran on camera.

Drama comedy Hope Aur Hum starring Naseeruddin Shah and Sonali Kulkarni directed by Sudip Bandyopadhyay is more interesting in parts, while the whole feels a bit disjointed, says The Times Of India. A tighter script could have helped, but for now the little gags in the film work just fine. The film scores well with the casting, which helps make it even more believable and the characters relatable. The dialogues, too, crack you up every now and then, which help because the film dabbles often with philosophical subjects.

Chinese-Hong Kong adventure film Monster Hunt 2, directed by Raman Hui, starring Tony Leung, Bai Baihe, Jing Boran, Li Yuchun and Tony Yang is so perfectly good-natured, says Variety magazine, and so utterly nonsensical that it makes not-thinking-about-it basically an act of self-preservation, for which bless its bouncing, gurgling, flolloping heart. Before the brief Bollywood musical-style opening has even concluded, with the brightly clad dancers joyously wriggling out of their “human outfits" to reveal the tubby, blubbery, sunny-dispositioned “monsters" they are underneath, the only part of the viewer’s brain that would light up a CT scan is the Awww! cortex.

While the film is a much more powerful visual feast than the original Monster Hunt from two years ago, it offers little in terms of expanding the first film’s themes or pushing the storyline significantly forward, says The Hollywood Reporter. Technically, Monster Hunt 2 is faultless, courtesy the work of its largely Hong Kong-based crew. It mesmerises the viewers both with its immaculate special effects and also its impressive production design. Beyond all this, however, Monster Hunt 2 ultimately shapes up as more of a stopgap effort to showcase the franchise’s possibilities and stir up interest for its grand denouement.

In the south, Tamil-Telugu biographical period film Mahanati/Nadigaiyar Thilagam directed by Nag Aswin starring Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha Akkineni, and Vijay Devarakonda is a fitting tribute to the legendary actress Savitri, says 123telugu.com. Though the film moves you emotionally, it may not work too well with people who don’t know or aren’t invested enough in Savitri’s life. Suresh leads the game and pours life into her character.

Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Hindi horror film The Past, Tamil action thriller Iravukku Aayiram Kangal, Tamil action thriller Irumbu Thirai, Telugu romantic actioner Mehbooba, Malayalam romantic film Kaamuki, Malayalam romantic film Premasoothram, Marathi dramas Lagna Mubarak and Ranangan, Punjabi science fiction film Raduaa and Punjabi romantic comedy Kande.

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