Satirical comedy Bala, directed by Amar Kaushik and starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar and Yami Gautam, is both loud and subtle, says The Indian Express. But there are so many points that the film is busy raising, while using baldness as a chief peg, that it feels overstuffed at times. The third act turns into a moral science lesson: with our hero pontificating on inner and outward beauty. Still, Khurrana’s Bala is an achievement. This is an unfiltered, bare performance, unafraid to be seen as ridiculous: this kind of shucking of vanity, even if it is self-aware, is rare amongst Bollywood actors.
NDTV calls it a breezy drama on a prickly theme that sustains its sense of proportion and its control over a challenging narrative arc. The film touches upon sensitive issues but makes its point without turning overtly judgmental about anyone or anything. The dialogues are peppered with words like takla, ganja and kaali. However, the negative connotations of these pejorative expressions aren't allowed to linger. If anything, the screenplay finds ways to put a positive spin on them at times.
Action drama Satellite Shankar directed by Irfan Kamal starring Sooraj Pancholi and Megha Akash is an extended army recruitment video with some tender moments, says Scroll. Kamal’s film is less muscular than the year’s blockbuster Uri: The Surgical Strike, but the message is the same: the men in olive are the only true patriots in a country whose politicians and commoners are often found wanting.
Bypass Road directed by Naman Nitin Mukesh starring Neil Nitin Mukesh is in the mould of 1990s thrillers, which were themselves throwbacks to 1970s suspense dramas, says Scroll. It’s the kind of movie packed with slinky people with lots of money and loose morals, enough red herrings to fill a deep freezer, and twists that appear all the way till the closing credits.
For the Hollywood fans, American war film Midway directed by Roland Emmerich starring Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart and Nick Jonas comes to India this week. The film clearly wants to do right by the players in its story, says The Hollywood Reporter, but it rarely brings them to life as real people; it also fails to go the other direction, turning them into the larger-than-life personalities that might fuel an openly jingoistic take on this material.
Horror film Doctor Sleep directed by Mike Flanagan starring Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson and Kyliegh Curran isn’t a grueling exercise in pure horror, says Empire magazine. It’s odder and more contemplative, but worth checking in. Working off source material that is very different from its predecessor, anyone expecting a straightforward Shining sequel will be disappointed.
Romantic comedy Last Christmas directed by Paul Feig starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding seems great on paper but absolutely nothing works on screen, says Rolling Stone. This is the kind of movie that also mistakes obvious and cloying for clever, ham-fisted for subtle, and merely stringing together George Michael tunes as some sort of homage.
Tamil action drama Miga Miga Avasaram starring Sri Priyanka and E Ramdoss directed by Suresh Kamatchi could have been etched out into a watchable drama with better writing, says The Times Of India. Unfortunately, the series of proceedings here lack depth and what should have been a short film has been stretched into a feature-length movie.
Kannada horror drama Kapata Nataka Paatradhaari starring Balu Nagendra and Sangeetha Bhat directed by Krish uses limited settings and characters to tell an interesting tale that has some twists that thrill and treat viewers, says The Times Of India. While the film has shades of horror, the treatment of those scenes is not exaggerated and this is a refreshing change.
Malayalam action drama Moothon starring Nivin Pauly and Shashank Arora directed by Geetu Mohandas is a film that stands out for its visceral emotional tapestry interwoven with action-thriller elements, says Firstpost. Like a life fraught with questions and travails, it is a ride that can get bumpy, but it is one you should go on, should you get the chance.
Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Telugu romantic comedy Yedu Chepala Kadha, Telugu romantic actioner Thippara Meesam, Kannada drama Girmit, Kannada action thriller Ranabhoomi, Kannada mystery thriller Aa Drushya, Malayalam comedy dramas Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25 and Nalpathiyonnu, Punjabi dramas Nanka Mel and Mitran Nu Shaunk Hathyaran Da, Marathi films Copy and Bakaal, Bengali drama Ghoon, Gujarati period drama Hellaro and Chattisgarhi romantic drama Love Diwana.