Friday film wrap: Post-Diwali week sees a bunch of small releases

By veering away from that thematic line in the second half and settling for a strand that signals a tame acceptance of the centrality of religious beliefs in the lives of the people of Varanasi, Mohalla Assi loses an opportunity to be what it could have been - an important and radical Hindi film.

New Delhi: The disastrous week thrown up by Bollywood’s Diwali offering Thugs of Hindostan is followed by a bunch of small releases.

Sunny Deol-starrer Mohalla Assi directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi is a majorly flawed, exasperatingly uneven film, which springs to life sporadically in the first half and then loses its way irretrievably in the second, says NDTV. While the making of the film looks terribly dated, its central discourse is, 20 years on, undeniably more topical than ever. By veering away from that thematic line in the second half and settling for a strand that signals a tame acceptance of the centrality of religious beliefs in the lives of the people of Varanasi, Mohalla Assi loses an opportunity to be what it could have been - an important and radical Hindi film.

Drama thriller Pihu directed by Vinod Kapri starring Myra Vishwakarma is Home Alone without the pointed effort to be comical, Baby’s Day Out without the intentionally farcical tone, says Firstpost. It is determinedly realistic cinema in a highly believable setting that, the makers acknowledge, is inspired by a true story reported in the press. It is not easy to watch as the film builds up a heightened sense of awareness of the dangers held out by everyday items in a modern household.

For the Hollywood fans, American biographical film Bohemian Rhapsody directed by Bryan Singer starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee and Ben Hardy comes to India this week. Empire magazine calls it a safe, competent, decidedly non-scandalous biopic. It treats the life of Freddie Mercury with cautious affection, happy to play within the rules when depicting a man who did anything but. The inherent problem there is that while the story of Freddie Mercury is fascinating and deeply moving, Queen’s road to glory is relatively free of bump. Anthony McCarten’s script struggles to inject much drama into Queen’s rise, which progresses smoothly from student gigs to sold-out stadiums in just a few years. It’s a cheerful trip through the hits, yet dramatically not very rich.

Fantasy film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald directed by David Yates starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler has a great deal of story, says The New York Times. The movie is chockablock with stuff: titular creatures (if not nearly enough), attractive people, scampering extras, eye-catching locations, tragic flashbacks, teary confessions and largely bloodless, spectacular violence. It’s an embarrassment of riches, and it’s suffocating.

Boy Erased directed by Joel Edgerton starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe is sufficiently powerful during most of its length, says The Wall Street Journal and extremely during several eruptions of searing drama. The film is a coming-of-age story coupled with a coming into deep selfhood. It’s a fine film, forthright and heartfelt.

Tamil comedy drama Kaatrin Mozhi directed by Radha Mohan starring Jyothika is as good as the original Hindi film Tumhari Sulu, says Firstpost and what makes it special is the delightful and absolutely smashing performance of Jyothika, who is the life and soul of this feel good comedy drama.

Several films this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Hindi film Hotel Milan, Telugu action comedy Amar Akbar Anthony, Kannada action drama 8MM Bullet, Malayalam comedy Nithyaharitha Nayakan, Marathi films Vanilla, Strawberry & Chocolate, Naal and Gatmat, Punjabi period drama Laatu and Gujarati film IMA Gujju.

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