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‘Death in the Gunj’, ‘Dear Maya’, ‘Baywatch’, ‘Wonder Woman’ to watch this week

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-06-2017 Lata Jha

New Delhi: About five Hindi, two Hollywood and a host of regional releases vie for attention this week.

Horror film Dobaara: See Your Evil, directed by Prawaal Raman and starring Huma Qureshi, Saqib Saleem and Adil Hussain, is a neat paranormal thriller that doesn’t resort to cheap thrills and clichés to scare you, says Gulf News. Though it’s an official adaptation of Hollywood hit Oculus, the director doesn’t butcher and make it unpalatable. Watch this if you are in the mood for a creepy film whose intention is to startle you, but is not designed for gross shock value.

Konkona Sen Sharma’s drama thriller A Death in the Gunj, starring Vikrant Massey, Tillotama Shome, Om Puri, Tanuja, Gulshan Devaiah and Kalki Koechlin, is a chiseled gem of a film—as resplendent as it is sobering, says NDTV Movies. Sen Sharma’s storytelling is strikingly sure-handed: proof that she is as fine a director as she is an actress. Her script is shorn of superfluities, cinematographer Sirsha Roy’s exquisitely lit frames unerringly evoke the film’s time and space, and the effortless acting by the ensemble cast is of the highest order.

Romantic drama Dear Maya, directed by Sunaina Bhatnagar and starring Manisha Koirala, Madiha Imam and Shreya Chaudhary is an overstretched but affecting yarn about secrets, lies and hope, says Scroll.in. Bhatnagar’s film has the quality of a short story adapted for the screen. She takes care—perhaps too much of it—to flesh out characters and their relationship with one another, but her empathy towards and understanding of the protagonist’s situation makes Dear Maya unexpectedly engrossing. Nicely shot by Sayak Bhattacharya, the film is one of the better observed coming-of-age films in recent times.

For Hollywood fans, there is Priyanka Chopra’s American movie debut Baywatch, directed by Seth Gordon co-starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron that comes to the country this week. The movie, based on one of the most popular television series of the 1990s, doesn’t go for the same broad audience as the show, says The Washington Post, and is marked by a blend of lazy gross-out humour and inane male wish fulfilment weighed down by terrible editing and lame action. It’s no shock that the women don’t have much to do beyond look good. Even Chopra, as the villain, has minimal dialogue, although the camera spends plenty of time giving her elevator eyes as she dons form-fitting, cleavage-baring dresses.

In trying to resuscitate the brand for 2017, the writers were faced with a question: should it be an affectionate spoof, or a cuss-heavy raunchfest with scant resemblance to the original product? The answer, it seems, was never decided, says Empire magazine. Tonally, Baywatch veers all over the place like a drunk on a speedboat, making for one of the most lacklustre comedies of the year so far.

Superhero film Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright and Danny Huston, is a cohesive and gripping comic book-adapted origin story that gives the most famous female superhero a live-action entry worthy of the character’s legacy, says Screen Rant. Arriving at the time it does, Wonder Woman faces immense pressure both within the context of the DC Extended Universe and, to a larger extent, Hollywood as a whole—but Gadot and Jenkins rise above expectations to deliver an incredibly exciting and inspiring movie.

After a few false starts, the DC Extended Universe has its first truly terrific entry under its belt, says Empire magazine. Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad may all have been hits, but they’ve been rather joyless, largely critically savaged affairs. Wonder Woman changes all that. And it does so by looking to the past, taking inspiration from the likes of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. But the film’s biggest debt is to Superman The Movie. Both structurally—the opening half-hour in Themyscira is akin to the Krypton segment of Richard Donner’s movie—and tonally. Like Christopher Reeve’s Superman, Gal Gadot’s Diana is a bright beacon of hope in a world of greys.

Telugu comedy Andhhagadu, directed by Veligonda Srinivas and starring Raj Tarun and Hebah Patel, is an engaging entertainer, says andhrawishesh.com. Srinivas’s expertise is visible in the film that benefits from a fun and unpredictable first half and a pre-climax that is a major highlight.

Marathi film Muramba, starring Amey Wagh and Mithila Palkar and directed by Varun Narvekar, is a romantic comedy with a difference, says Pune Mirror. It mainly deals with an aftermath of the end of a relationship and deliberates over the possibility of reconciliation. What makes it interesting is the structure. Almost like a play in terms of continuity of space, time and characters but not in terms of feel, the central narrative unfolds over a single day. The film is well-written and directed and knows where to stop the story.

Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Hindi movies Flat 211 and Sweetiee Weds NRI, Tamil film 7 Naatkal, Telugu romantic comedy Fashion Designer S/O Ladies Tailor, Kannada films Life 360 and Eleyaru Naavu Geleyaru, Marathi movie FU: Fun Unlimited, Bengali film Baje Chobi and Gujarati comedy Aav Taru Kari Nakhu.

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