Fewer films have released this week, due to the restrictions imposed across states in India, in light of the pandemic.
While the premiere of Hindi films have reduced, regional cinema has seen its arrival, both on the big screens, as well as on OTT platforms.
More films are gearing up for digital releases, with the upcoming Hindi film Gehraiyaan releasing on Amazon Prime Video, in February.
Silverscreen India brings to you a compilation of reviews of regional films, which have had both theatrical as well as online releases.
The Vineeth Srinivasan directorial features actors Pranav Mohanlal, Darshana Rajendran, and Kalyani Priyadarshan, in the lead roles. The film is a coming-of-age drama, revolving around Arun Neelakandan over ten years, from his late teens until his late twenties. It looks at his friendships and romantic relationships, his brief descent into anarchy, his transformation into a family man and a successful commercial photographer, according to Silverscreen India‘s reviewer, Aswathy Gopalakrishnan.
Gopalakrishnan notes that there’s little character journey in the film, with Vineeth presenting the familiar and the mediocre. “His characters engage in relentless talking, but the absence of superior writing and cinematic aesthetics fail to turn their everyday experiences universal and inspiring,” she writes.
For Vishal Menon, of Film Companion, Hridayam revisits those memory lanes that only a Malayali, who has studied, lived and loved in Chennai, like Menon himself, could resonate with.
He calls the film “extremely overwritten” with the abrupt nature of its scenes unable to leave an impact, while invoking a sense of nostalgia.
SR Praveen of The Hindu, seems to reiterate Menon’s point of view and writes that one of Sreenivasan’s selling point are the segments that evoke nostalgia.
He adds, “Yet, there were points in Hridayam when Vineeth displayed more than a desire to break free of that cheerful, heartwarming mould and let his characters run wild, laying bare their demons. But then, the characters seem to get sudden realisations about the kind of movie that they are in, and get back to radiating goodness.”
The film has an IMDb rating of 9.
Directed by Rahul Sadasivan, Bhoothakaalam features actors Revathi and Shane Nigam in lead roles. “Following the death of a family member, a mother and son experience mysterious events which distort their sense of reality and make them question their sanity,” read IMDb‘s synopsis of the film.
Sadasivan spoke to Silverscreen India earlier, and said, “Revathi and Shane play the lead characters in the film and they are from a middle-class family. The story follows their emotional journey in life. I thought it would be a unique blend of performances with actors Revathi and Shane on board, as we have not seen such a combination.”
Regarding the conception of Bhoothakaalam, Sadasivan had said that he wanted to make a film backed by a strong plot and driven by its characters. Hence, he wrote Bhoothakaalam that explores how the mother-son duo cope with certain situations, the change in power dynamics at home, and much more.
Vishal Menon, of Film Companion, decodes the title of the film and writes that it can be interpreted as “a broken-family drama that’s as much about the ghosts of the past as it is about the ghosts in the present.”
Menon adds that the film feels personal and scary, with the depiction of the silences between the mother-son duo. He also points out that what starts out as a quest to understand the mental health situations of the characters, takes a backseat as the film embraces the ‘haunted house’ format.
“Until then, there’s a layer of fear that gets added on because these events could happen to any one of us. But when the film shifts from Shane’s subjective viewpoint to Saiju Kurup’s outsider, the film finds one major reason for all their issues, which feels simplistic when dealing with serious mental illness,” writes Menon.
For Anna MM Vetticad of Firstpost, it is impossible to define the film as a psychological thriller or a paranormal thriller. “It is either or both, depending on how you wish to view it,” she writes.
“By dwelling on mental health at length, it does more than most Indian language cinemas do, but it is not as lucid as most Malayalam films these days are about psychiatry and the treatment of ailments of the mind, especially when it does not address the irresponsibility shown by Asha’s doctor (Gilu Joseph) and in its fuzziness over Saiju Kurup’s character’s area of expertise,” she adds.
Apart from the actors’ performances, the reviewers credit Gopi Sundar’s background score, Shafique Mohamed Ali’s editing, and Vicky and Kishan’s sound design that make it an unusual Indian thriller.
Bhoothakaalam has an IMDb rating of 8.1.
This film is musician Darbuka Siva’s directorial debut, and its synopsis reads, “In the 1990s, a group of high school students in a strict Catholic school navigates their way through everyday teen pressures.”
The film features actors Sacchin Nachiappan, Naren Vijay, and Varun Rajan, among others.
Ranjani Krishnakumar, of Film Companion, writes that the director uses nostalgia as a technique, where ordinary lives play out in painstaking detail.
“We see roll calls, sports days, farewell parties, fashion shows — the dullest events written and shot in a mundane manner. Perhaps in an effort to make a feel-good film, Siva eliminates all and any narrative tension,” she writes.
However, Krishnakumar notes that the film comes with a diverse set of characters, even though its focus is unclear.
For Praveen Sudevan of The Hindu, despite lacking a solid plot, the film’s first half is still pleasant. He attributes it to the the effective capture of the 90s spirit, through the lives of high school children.
“From boys in loose full-sleeved shirts (buttoned up and well-tucked in) and trousers, girls in churidars with the sleeves coming up to the middle of their arms, a buzzing Spencers Plaza, an annual diary converted into a ‘slam book’,” to Yamaha RX 100 motorcycles, and cassettes, Sudevan reflects on Krishnakumar’s point on nostalgia.
Owing to the film’s general lack of focus, primarily witnessed in the second half, “it is difficult to empathise with these characters because we do not stay with anyone for long,” he adds.
The film has an IMDb rating of 8.1
Apart from the aforementioned films, some others like Shyam Singha Roy, Akhanda, and Bachelor are currently streaming on Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, and SonyLIV, respectively, after completing their theatrical runs.