• Kalank’s all-out commitment to a consistently feverish emotional pitch makes it an anomaly. No one, save Sanjay Leela Bhansali, does this sort of gale-force melodrama anymore. In a Bollywood that’s trying to look more self-aware, emotion can be a lead weight. I’d be curious to see what audiences make of the film over the next week or two; the one I saw it with seemed to tire by the end of all the eloquence.

  • ‘Photograph’ is sensitively rendered but staid…

  • ‘Gully Boy’ amplifies a voice from the streets…

  • Manikarnika is the sum of what it’s saying – it doesn’t have visual stratagems strong enough to distract the viewer. It lacks the intricate design of Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat and the muscular drive of Baahubali, only coming to life when it borrows the bloody graphic-novel look of Zack Snyder films (such as the sequence where the queen slashes her way through a dozen enemy soldiers).

  • Singham turns up, which should surprise no one. To hear Devgn grunt his lines is to become grateful all over again for Singh’s fleet presence, even if it’s weighed down by the cartoon violence and endless posturing that make Shetty such a popular, if critically reviled, director. As a late scene makes clear, the Shetty-verse isn’t done growing. But more than expanded universes, what commercial Hindi cinema needs right now is broadened world views.

  • The actors playing the students are wonderful, turning even the rank sentimentality of the later scenes into something watchable. Had the film been less interested in the un-illuminating struggle between Naina and her critical father, we might have been able to get to know the 14 better. But this is ultimately a film about Naina—her students, her solutions, her journey, her hichkis.

  • The only lessons worth taking from Padmaavat are sartorial, but this thin epic is likely to be parsed for meaning by millions in the coming weeks. When none emerges, we’ll likely do what we’ve always done—fall back on tradition.

  • Oldman’s Churchill is a terrific imitation, and will probably get him his first Oscar, though I’ll probably remember him as the sphinx in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or the punk in Sid and Nancy. As for Wright, I’d take the unbroken five-minute tracking shot along the beach at Dunkirk in his Atonement over the rousing flatteries of Darkest Hour.

  • Mukkabaaz is a bracing start to the movie year—overstuffed, enjoyable and urgent. It doesn’t have big stars, but feels like a commercial movie in a way that Bombay Velvet didn’t.

  • Tiger Zinda Hai plays like a cut-rate version of Airlift. Though it lacks the relative realism and superior craftsmanship of the 2016 Akshay Kumar-starrer (also about the evacuation of Indians in the Middle East), Zafar’s film has the same hyper-patriotic bent.

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