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Watch out for ‘Half Girlfriend’, ‘Hindi Medium’ this week

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-05-2017 Lata Jha

New Delhi: Three weeks after the storm unleashed by Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, there finally seems something new to look forward to in theatres.

Hindi Medium, directed by Saket Chaudhary and starring Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar and Deepak Dobriyal, works because it somehow manages to stretch itself beyond its scrubby elements, easy half-baked jokes, lessons about consumerism and our love for English, into a simple story about a boy who would do anything to see his girl smile, says Rediff.com. By dwelling on the obvious, and then taking leaps when you least expect it to, Hindi Medium turns itself into a fascinatingly frustrating movie. There’s no artistry here to behold, but there are moments when the film suggests that it knows more than it shows.

NDTV Movies gives the film almost full marks for intent, effort and thematic novelty. It’s a squint take on the scramble for pre-primary admissions that elite, metropolitan English-medium schools witness every year is likely to strike an instant chord with parents who’ve faced, or are due to face, the unseemly rigmarole. Taken in its entirety, however, the film scores much less. The Irrfan Khan-starrer is a middling social satire, an awkward blend of situational comedy and an earnest expose on the downsides of ersatz pecking-order mobility. It employs broad strokes that hinge on contrived, bereft-of-nuance situations.

Mohit Suri’s Half Girlfriend, starring Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor, is strictly for fans of the book or the two leads, because at best it’s quarter tolerable, says Firstpost. Suri keeps the narrative ticking along at a steady pace, though surprisingly, for a Suri film, the music is a letdown. The costumes loudly proclaim “wealthy, urban” versus “provincial, simple”. A great deal of effort has gone into making the basketball scenes authentic. If only some of that had gone into improving the dialogue, especially the incredibly awkward English lines, and Arjun Kapoor’s Bihari accent.

NDTV is even less impressed, calling it a preposterously dimwitted romance, irresponsible enough to lead on many a stalker-to-be. Despite what you may believe, or what the makers may have intended at some point during the production, this isn’t the story of a sincere young man confounded by urban love and left helpless by an unidentified relationship. It is instead the story of a man-child with a one-track mind who misses the point of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and relentlessly pursues a girl who would rather feign death than be with him.

For Hollywood fans, American romantic drama Everything, Everything, directed by Stella Meghie and starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson, comes to India this week. The Edge calls it a must-watch for anyone who felt The Fault In Our Stars was lacking the happy ending it deserved. The modern romance incorporates difficulties of any romance dealing with an illness, while keeping a light and playful mood. The film style and soundtrack fit the timeline of the movie perfectly; with fast-paced frames, vibrant and modern tracks that portrayed the characters emotions in time with the plot.

American techno-thriller The Circle, directed by James Ponsoldt and starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, has to be credited with ambition, considering mainstream American movies have been hard-pressed to pertinently weigh in on the Internet and its discontents, says The New York Times. Lampooning the simple-mindedness of utopian web clichés was arguably part of Dave Eggers’s point who authored the novel the film is based on, but much of that point is often muddled in the book. And it’s simply incoherent in the movie. The novel is at its most trenchantly funny when depicting the exhausting nature of virtual social life, and it’s in this area, too, that the movie gets its very few knowing laughs. But it’s plain, not much more than 15 minutes in, that without the story’s paranoid aspects you’re left with a conceptual framework that’s been lapped three times over by the likes of, say, the Joshua Cohen novel Book of Numbers, or the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley.

Ritesh Batra’s British-American drama The Sense of an Ending, starring Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling and Harriet Walter, looks terrific, suffused as it is with British manners and everything-in-its-placeness, says The Washington Post. The inherent superiority of the written word notwithstanding, Batra has done a credible and even commendable job of translating Barnes’s intricate prose to the screen, opening up some of its corners, burrowing into its time shifts and, most gratifyingly, elaborating on a few otherwise marginal characters.

Several releases this week haven’t inspired any reviews yet. These include Hindi movie Jattu Engineer, Tamil horror comedy Sangili Bungili Kadhava Thorae, Tamil dramas Mathippen and Inayathalam, Kannada musical drama Banna Bannada Baduku, Malayalam films Godha and Adventures of Omanakkuttan, Bengali romantic film Ami Je Ke Tomar and Gujarati film Karsandas Pay & Use.

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