New Delhi: It seems like a cluttered but fairly unexciting week at the movies.
Historical action drama Parmanu — The Story of Pokhran directed by Abhishek Sharma starring John Abraham, Diana Penty and Boman Irani is a damp squib of colossal dimensions, says NDTV. In this anything-goes, post-truth film, fact and fiction are freely and selectively mixed to whip up patriotic fervour around a nuclear test that India conducted two decades ago. Those explosions in Pokhran were more about technology than military heroism. That distinction isn’t allowed to come in the way of the film’s priggish tone, which serves to uphold the skewed notion of strength and muscularity that is peddled nowadays for us to aspire to as a nation.
Parmanu plays out like a cat-and-mouse thriller, says The Indian Express, led from the front by the ultra-patriotic civil servant Abraham, and his bunch of merry men and (one) woman. Even if we were to ignore the film’s joking, often unintentionally funny tone, presumably used for wider audience appeal, it’s hard to overlook its scant use of historical fact: there is no mention of the origins of the nuclear programme, no mention of the how it came to be at the stage it is, when the movie opens.
For Hollywood fans, American space film Solo: A Star Wars Story, directed by Ron Howard starring Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover comes to India this week. The New York Times calls it a curiously low-stakes blockbuster, in effect a filmed Wikipedia page. Solo ambles from one set piece to the next in a spirit of genial in-betweenness. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it also holds whatever irreverent, anarchic impulses it might possess in careful check. There are some fine action sequences, and some that don’t make much sense at all.
Solo: A Star Wars Story hits all the expected Han Solo origin story beats, delivering a solidly entertaining experience with few surprises, says Screen Rant. Solo does manage to bring a slightly different tone to the Star Wars adventure. Though the movie is firmly rooted in the galaxy far, far away — and there are plenty of Easter eggs that connect it to other properties — the nature of Han Solo’s life takes viewers into a much seedier, and more grounded, side of the Star Wars franchise.
In the south, Tamil comedy drama Oru Kuppai Kathai starring Dinesh and Manisha Yadav directed by Kaali Rangaswamy is another example of how a promising story core need not necessarily translate into a good film, says The Indian Express. After all, it is not just what you say, but how you say it that matters. The screenplay is extremely uninventive and the story just plods on, the twists are obvious miles away. And also, the characters are unapologetically perfunctory.
Marathi drama Bucket List starring Madhuri Dixit directed by Tejas Vijay Deoskar works best when it stays light and frothy, says Scroll. The film tries to pass off Dixit as the average housewife — an idea that rarely sticks but goes some way towards making the antics of her character Madhura Sane acceptable. Unlike Sridevi’s English Vinglish (2012), which similarly mapped its heroine’s journey towards confidence, Bucket List is less coherent in presenting Madhura’s transformation. “Who will take care of the house" and “You are a mother, stay a mother", reminders that are constantly thrown Madhura’s way, barely carry any weight. It’s all good, and it’s always feelgood.
Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Danny Denzongpa-starrer Bioscopewala, Tamil comedy Sema, Telugu family drama Ammammagarillu, Telugu action drama Nela Ticket, Kannada mythological film Raama Dhanya, Malayalam romantic comedy Angane Njanum Premichu, Bengali fantasy drama Rainbow Jelly and Bengali psychological thriller Good Night City.