New Delhi: The dismal box office performance of Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Harry Met Sejal last week will hopefully be offset as audiences look forward to a new big-ticket Bollywood release this Friday.

Akshay Kumar-starrer Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, directed by Shree Narayan Singh, takes a nick at the unholy, but prevalent practice of open defecation in India but comes across as a star-driven propaganda vehicle, says Gulf News. Singh has a superb knack of shrouding grim social scenarios and regressive traditions with wry humour. Providing verve to his vision are the urbane Kumar and Pednekar who do a splendid job of playing small-towners. The first half is smooth, but it’s the second half that gets constipated. The premise which is intriguing and novel becomes repetitive and laboured. Some of the scenes in the second half seem contrived to make the current government shine and sparkle.

The first half of the film is crisp and tightly packed but the same can’t be said about the second, says Khaleej Times. After interval, the film tends to get a bit preachy and might feel predictable, though it’s not something you can’t sit through. Overall, it is a good entertainer which leaves you with food for thought once you leave the theatre.

For Hollywood fans, American action spy thriller Atomic Blonde, directed by David Leitch and starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and John Goodman, comes to India this week. Variety magazine calls it a technically-dazzling yet fundamentally empty action pic. Much uncut, hardboiled posturing proves exhausting over a nearly two-hour run-time, and with zero emotional stakes and a plot that is both difficult and seemingly pointless to follow, there’s a fundamental emptiness behind all the flash.

The New York Times points out that Atomic Blonde is based on The Coldest City, a darkly shadowed, minimalist graphic novel. As in the novel, the movie continually shifts between Berlin, where all the action happens, and an interrogation room. On the page, this bifurcation works, but on the screen, it saps the story’s momentum, partly because there’s no violence in the room to distract from the genericism and puerility of the dialogue.

Computer animated comedy The Emoji Movie, directed by Tony Leondis and starring the voices of T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph and Steven Wright, is for 10-year olds, suggest the broad-strokes storytelling, first-base jokes and dumb characters, says Empire magazine. But the very focus on emojis—which young kids don’t really use yet—suggests otherwise. And small kids who start the film delighted by the bright colours and cheery design soon get bored of all the product placement and chase scenes, audibly switching off as the film goes on. It’s all so tiresomely over-familiar in its quest for self-expression, there is one decent joke about the eggplant emoji, but that’s really the height of it.

The Emoji Movie squanders the talents of its capable voice cast on an animation film that is as cynical in its outlook as it was in its conception, says Screen Rant. It fails to visualize the worlds that exist within your phone with any sort of real imagination or creativity. The animation here has a cheap look in general, relying upon flat colours and uninspired cartoony designs to envision what emojis and the apps that they exist within (and/or travel through) would look like, as objects in a three-dimensional space.

In the south, Tamil comedy drama Velaiilla Pattadhari 2, starring Dhanush and Kajol and directed by Soundarya Rajinikanth, is a decent watch, says pressks.com. The lead performances hold the film together.

Telugu romantic actioner Jaya Janaki Nayaka, starring Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas and Rakul Preet Singh and directed by Boyapati Srinu, is a commercial potboiler sure to entertain the masses, says telugu360.com. Though a predictable story, Srinu makes it work with his interesting characters.

Telugu romantic thriller Nene Raju Nene Mantri, directed by Teja and featuring Rana Daggubati, Kajal Aggarwal and Catherine Tresa, is a good one-time watch for those interested in politics, says AP Herald. Though high on production values, it could have been more tightly edited.

Marathi drama Kaccha Limbu, starring Sachin Khedekar and Sonali Kulkarni and directed by Prasad Oak, suggests humour with its title but is actually a serious and profoundly disturbing film, says Pune Mirror. Brilliantly shot in black and white by Amalendu Choudhary, the colour tone perfectly suits the grey shades of the film’s storyline. It also underlines the darker realities of the characters. The selective use of colour represents their forgotten hopes and dreams.

Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Tamil romantic comedy Podhuvaga EmManasu Thangam, Tamil drama Taramani, Telugu action film Lie, Kannada films Mass Leader and E1, Marathi drama Mala Kahich Problem Nahi and Bengali drama Dhananjoy.

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