With multiple big releases like Beast, KGF: Chapter 2, and Jersey arriving in cinemas, starting next week, theatres can be safely said to be going through a revival. The KGF sequel has already seen a collection of Rs 10 crore from the advance bookings for its Hindi-dubbed version.
Meanwhile, this past week, films like RRR, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Dasvi, Cobalt Blue, and Taanakkaran have been entertaining audiences in theatres and on streaming platforms.
Silverscreen India brings to you a compilation of reviews of films that released last week.
Starring Abhishek Bachchan, Nimrat Kaur and Yami Gautam, Dasvi is a feel-good Hindi comedy-drama directed by Tushar Jalota. The story revolves around an uneducated chief minister of a fictional state (Bachchan) who decides to spend his time studying for a high-school diploma when he is jailed under Gautam’s tough cop. He installs his wife (Kaur) as interim chief minister but she has plans of her own.
According to Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India, even though the plot suggests “an amusing farce about Indian politics and society, centred on a politician who discovers the joy of knowledge-seeking inside a prison,” the film fails to unearth it.
The reviewer further calls out the film’s idea of education and knowledge for being exam-oriented, and points out that it imagines the bureaucracy and prison as casteless institutions.
However, she highlights the performance of the leads, particularly Kaur, and adds that she “has a natural rustic accent, unlike her co-star who speaks Hariyanvi like an urbane Instagram influencer mocking his relatives in the village.”
Rahul Desai of Film Companion calls Dasvi ‘juvenile storytelling’. “Dasvi is neither funny, nor moving, nor insightful, nor cleverly self-aware. In the process, it trivializes everything it touches: gender and caste discrimination, literacy, history, politics, dyslexia, marriage, democracy, rehabilitation,” he writes.
Of the three lead performances, Desai too highlights that of Kaur and says the “only worthwhile thing to come out of Dasvi is the fact that Nimrat Kaur would make for a great sociopath in a dark, twisted film that actually deserves her.”
Anna MM Vetticad of Firstpost, meanwhile, notes that the film reflects the lives of former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi. For her, despite having obvious potential, Dasvi is let down by its lack of substance.
For one, Vetticad notes the absence of a proper background for Kaur’s Bimla. She writes, “The idea of a version of Rabri Devi rebelling against her Lalu is intriguing, but before Bimla in Dasvi becomes a manipulative power-chaser, the film does not explore a progression of events that could make this trembling, stay-at-home wife’s transformation convincing.”
The reviewer has the same issue with Gautam’s Jyoti Deswal and says the film fails to make clear what makes her character tick.
In terms of performances, Vetticad highlights actors Manu Rishi Chadha and Arun Kushwaha, who essay the roles of Bachchan’s prison associates. “This is a rare – and welcome – instance of an actor with dwarfism being treated as a real person rather than a mere source of humour in a Hindi film,” she writes of Kushwaha’s casting.
Despite the average reviews from critics, the film has garnered an IMDb rating of 8.3.
Cobalt Blue – Netflix
Cobalt Blue is directed by Sachin Kundalkar based on his own 2013 novel of the same name. However, the streamer does not credit him as the director, following a series of sexual harassment allegations against him. Featuring actors Prateik Babbar, Neelay Menhendale, and Anjali Sivaraman in pivotal roles, the story is about a brother and sister, Tanay and Anuja (played by Mehendale and Sivaraman, respectively), who both fall for the same man, their new tenant (Babbar).
While the idea might sound fascinating, the “film can barely escape the superficiality of its setting,” writes Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India.
She cites the examples of the women who are Anuja’s best friends in the film. “Fathima is merely a token in the film to denote the multicultural quality of the place, a character who gets no individual screentime or space, who could be easily replaced by anyone or anything. Maria exists to signify the lack of freedom Anuja would experience if she aligns her life with her family’s value system.”
Aswathy further notes that while the film spends its “time and energy cramming Tanay’s consciousness with colours, pretty objects and words that sound profound, like preparing a dollhouse,” everything looks like a “set-up that takes neither the characters nor the viewers by surprise.”
“It is Tanay’s first love, but strangely, there is neither a flush nor tension in the romantic scenes,” she adds.
For Prathyush Parasuraman of Film Companion, the film feels like it is filled with catalysts rather than characters, “people who speak like they are waiting to be quoted.”
Calling the book it is based on a “strangely empty novel,” he adds that it “makes you question if a mysterious character is the result of lazy writing or myopic storytelling, a confusion that is compounded by Prateik Babbar’s acting — is this bad acting or bad writing?”
Prathyush ultimately feels the writing of the film is sloppy. “In one scene, Anuja applies for a position we did not know she wanted, to escape the house. The next scene, she gets it. In one scene we get Tanay’s letter of acceptance to a writing program, one we did not even know he applied for. The next scene, he leaves. Characters are written as if love is the only thing of importance to have happened in their lives, the only thing worth simmering over. The rest is rag-tag poetry,” he writes, noting, however, that Vincenzo Condorelli’s cinematography stands out.
Cobalt Blue has an IMDb rating of 6.8.
Directed by Tamizh and featuring actors Vikram Prabhu, Lal, MS Bhaskar, Madhusudhan Rao, Pavel Navageethan, Bose Venkat and Anjali Nair, Taanaakaran tells the story of what goes on inside a Police Recruit School (PRS) and throws light on the training regimen of the new recruits.
According to Subha J Rao of Silverscreen India, “Tamizh yanks you into this set-up, and thanks to Madhesh Manickam’s camera work, Raghavan’s art direction and Philomin Raj’s editing, the relentless monotony of the testosterone-filled world gets to you.”
Rao also says the entire cast fits perfectly and is “just a part of Tamizh’s storyscape.”
“The dialogues are nuanced, even inspirational at times in their simplicity. Ghibran’s music is unobtrusive, but the songs stick out in a stark film that could have done without them,” Rao further writes.
She concludes by saying that while Taanakkaran may not be perfect, it is a necessary film in a cinema world that celebrates violence, encounters and super cops.
Ranjani Krishnakumar of Film Companion credits the director for getting a lot of things right. “The film remains strictly within the confines of the school and its environs. It slowly builds up to the abuse and discrimination that passes off as training. The clever use of history allows for characters from different age groups, even if not otherwise diverse.”
She goes on to applaud the performances of the actors as well the structure of the film, before pointing out that its over-indulgence in violence is a shortcoming. “We are repeatedly shown torture and abuse. Tamizh wants us to see that it is an integral part of police training, but we barely ever learn what it turns the trainees into. More often than not, the trainees clean themselves up and show up the next day. So, we never really see what such institutional violence, peer pressure and expectation can do to good people,” Ranjani writes.
Praveen Sudevan of The Hindu, notes that the training camp itself is a character, and writes, “It has a barren parade ground, parched under the sun, without a smidgen of shade. The trainees’ rooms pale in comparison with prisons. Their toilets can be claustrophobic.”
He goes on to appreciate Vikram Prabhu’s performance and Tamizh’s characterisation of his Arivu. “Unlike other commercial cop flicks in Tamil, the heroism of Arivu does not lie in his charisma but in his perseverance. There are no screaming punchlines, just silent resilience,” he writes.
Also applauding the writer-director for giving ample screen space to secondary characters as well, he notes that the only jarring aspect of the film is the romantic angle between Vikram Prabhu and Nair.
The film has an IMDb rating of 8.7.