A still from Article 15
A still from Article 15

Friday Film Wrap: ‘Article 15’ big release of the week

  • Crime drama Article 15 directed by Anubhav Sinha starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Isha Talwar and Sayani Gupta is in equal parts powerful and preachy
  • English language film Noblemen directed by Vandana Kataria starring Kunal Kapoor, Ali Haji and Ivan Rodrigues is a hard-hitting high-school drama

New Delhi: The big Hindi film release of the week is a gritting tale about India’s age-old caste politics.

Crime drama Article 15 directed by Anubhav Sinha starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Isha Talwar and Sayani Gupta is in equal parts powerful and preachy, says Scroll. Not all of the lecturing lands elegantly, but when it does, the film assumes a raw power that is missing from mainstream cinema’s more guarded depictions of caste. Though the screenplay taps into too many sensations to make its point, the critique of the caste system is what ultimately stands out.

Film Companion calls it a punchy true-crime drama defined by its haunted characters. Like Sinha’s previous film Mulk, Article 15 employs an ‘outsider’ trope to address caste discrimination through the lens of the (adapted) Badaun gangrape case. Only, unlike most socially charged dramas, this film is mature enough to recognize that “change" is merely a dramatic construct invented by the arts to bookend a narrative.

English language film Noblemen directed by Vandana Kataria starring Kunal Kapoor, Ali Haji and Ivan Rodrigues is a hard-hitting high-school drama, says The Indian Express. The film takes us close into the closed world of prestigious boarding schools and the toxic, misguided notions of honour, wide-spread homophobia, and the persistent harassment, verbal and physical, stretching to sexual torture, of those who cannot hit back.

For the Hollywood fans, American supernatural horror film Annabelle Comes Home directed by Gary Dauberman starring Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman and Katie Sarife comes to India this week. Thankfully, Dauberman, a veteran of both the series and things-that-go-bump-in-the-psyche storytelling (he was one of several scribes who worked on It) understands that self-serious is not the name of the game this time. If Annabelle Comes Home is the best of the three films to date — a low-ish bar, but still — it’s because he’s well aware that this simplistic story works best as a cross between a haunted house and a carnival funhouse.

The Conjuring universe offers up another handsomely made yet astonishingly empty chapter about the havoc-wreaking demonic doll, says The Guardian. What is often frustrating about films in the Conjuring universe is the disparity between what’s initially promised and then what’s ultimately delivered. Annabelle Comes Home is no different, with care employed in its period recreation, as firmly rooted in the specificities of the 60s as something carrying far more prestige. But once the initial foreplay is over, teasing a stylish and substantive alternative to its more simple-minded genre peers, it falls into the same old routine. There’s a handsome framework but nothing at its centre, a script that quickly eschews anything resembling a plot, choosing to bombard us with cheap funhouse trickery instead.

Tamil horror film Jiivi starring Vetri Sudley and Karunakaran directed by V.J Gopinath is one of the memorable thrillers of the year, says The Times Of India. What’s remarkable about the film is that it doesn’t worship or demonise its protagonist. Like its hero, the film takes an impassive look at his actions. Both director Gopinath and writer Babu Tamizh are more interested in showing us the intelligence of this character and the unique position in which he finds himself in the latter half of the film.

Tamil action drama House Owner directed by Lakshmy Ramakrishnan starring Kishore and Lovelyn is a small film with a very big heart, says Sify. It is a meticulously written, performed and executed film centered on the emotional journey of its characters, an honest exploration of human personalities and is a must watch for ardent movie buffs and aspiring filmmakers.

Marathi romantic drama Miss U Mister starring Siddharth Chandekar and Mrunmayee Deshpande directed by Sameer Hemant Joshi is a film that is acceptable, but wholly unremarkable. The characters are plain, their problems average, there is little drama, and when the film strives for a dramatic moment, it feels forced and contrived.

Bengali thriller Network starring Saswata Chatterjee, Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Rini Ghosh directed by Saptaswa Basu bites off more than it can chew, says Film Companion. The film attempts to address a few aspects of popular media and it is audacious in its ambition – audacious because this is a subject that expert hands would find hard to do justice to. As far as directorial debuts go, it’s not a bad effort.

Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Tamil films Natchathira Jannalil and Dharmaprabhu, Telugu movies Captain Rana Prathap, Brochevarevaru Ra, Kalki, Prema Janta and BurraKatha, Kannada thriller drama Samayada Hinde Savari, Kannada action film Rustum, Malayalam comedy drama Kakshi: Amminippilla, Marathi films Takatak and Adham, Punjabi comedy drama Mindo Taseeldarni and Bengali drama Bhokatta.

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