New Delhi: With the festive season on the cards, a bunch of releases jostle for space in movie theatres.

Salman Khan’s romantic musical drama Loveyatri starring Aayush Sharma and Warina Hussain, weighed down by a lack of fresh ideas, never actually gets off the ground, says NDTV. Riding a rudimentary screenplay and hobbled by wet-behind-the-ears actors navigating very slippery ground, it limps and lurches from one inanity to another. A Bollywood film about young love has rarely been this dreary and unappetizing.

The script is old wine in recycled bottles, just with a new faces and a new setting, says Firstpost. Sharma’s default setting is to hold one blank expression for as long as needed in the scene. Like her debutant co-star, Hussain too is bland, and this almost works in their favour as a newbie onscreen couple.

Sriram Raghavan’s black comedy Andhadhun starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte is a glorious keep-‘em-guessing thriller, says The Indian Express, which never loses sight of that most important question: so what happens next? The performances are uniformly solid. The film flags, just for a little while, post interval and things become a tad heavy-handed and dull. But soon enough, everything is zippily back on track, and we are back with our hearts-in-our-mouths.

News18 calls it a terrifically taut thriller, with regular people giving the most obvious reactions in the most unexpected ways. It is probably also the kind of film which may take a few years to grow on you. The audacity of director Raghavan’s vision and the intricacies of the screenplay would come back to you in their complete glory only when you acknowledge his understanding of the story thread.

For the Hollywood fans, American superhero film Venom directed by Ruben Fleischer starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, and Reid Scott comes to India this week. Rolling Stone calls it a mess of a Marvel supervillain movie. This is a puddle of simplistic, sanitized PG-13 drivel that Marvel has released instead of the scary, dark-night-of-the-soul thunderbolt fans had the right to expect. Tom Hardy and a massively overqualified cast, including Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed, have been reduced to putting on a clown-show for kiddies in a shameless corporate product where the creativity stopped with the balance sheet.

Hardy stumbles in a film that is nowhere near the nimble excellence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series, says The Guardian. This is a clumsy, monolithic and fantastically boring superhero movie-slash-entertainment-franchise-iteration.

Tamil romantic drama 96 directed by C. Prem Kumar starring Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha Krishnan is a refreshingly unsentimental post-breakup love story, elevated by superb performances, says Film Companion. Prem Kumar localises this universal story exquisitely — he makes it his own. The director wants to make you feel, but he doesn’t want you to cry. There’s a welcome sprinkling of humour. The friends around the couple keep tossing off crisp, no-nonsense lines. They keep things from getting soggy.

Tamil political thriller NOTA directed by Anand Shankar starring Vijay Deverakonda and Mehreen Pirzada works to an extent because it unfolds like the highlights reel of the absurd political happenings that Tamil Nadu has been witnessing over the past two to three years, says The Times Of India. We are supposed to be satisfied with these digs at contemporary politics. While that is certainly a low bar to clear, given these turbulent times, it feels OK to buy into the fantasy of someone coming along and leading us towards a better future.

Tamil psychological thriller Ratsasan directed by Ramkumar starring Vishnu Vishal and Amala Paul is not an easy watch, says sify.com. While the role is Vishal’s career best which he carries off with ease and conviction, the film is too long and tedious.

Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Telugu drama Bhale Manchi Chowka Beram, Kannada comedy drama Naduve Antaravirali, Malayalam romantic film Mandharam, Marathi drama Hrudayat Something Something, Marathi comedy Boyz 2, Punjabi film Afsar, Gujarati drama Paaghadi and Assamese action thriller The Underworld.

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