We recommend: The best new movies and TV series
Lal Salaam: This movie is a socio-political drama that follows the story of two talented cricketers Thirunavukarasu and Shamsuddin and their village Murrabad. Local politicians are planning to sow communal tensions in order to win big at the upcoming elections and they exploit the rivalry between the two cricketers. This leads to a big conflict in the once harmonious town, and the film is how the characters navigate the religious conflict.
The reviews don’t have too many good things to say. The Hindu finds the movie to be lacking and is just a “superficial social drama that is all over the place”. Our take: It doesn’t matter what the reviews have to say, Rajnikanth is on the big screen and that is enough for us. You can catch the movie in theatres.
Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya: Starring Shahid Kapoor and Kriti Sanon, this is a film that follows Aryan (Shahid Kapoor), a programmer, who is on a visit to USA to meet and work with his aunt (Dimple Kapadia) for a robotics company. He meets Sifra (Kriti Sanon) while working there and is instantly smitten with her. The problem: Sifra is an android being developed in the company and even after finding out, Aryan continues to fall for her. He decides to bring Sifra to meet his family back in India and what ensues is a mix of sci-fi, rom-com and family drama.
The reviews are not kind. Mint finds the movie to be very thin on substance and wonders if “the makers thought anything through” and Indian Express calls the movie “confused mish-mash of genres, filled with tropey characters”. Our take: We are keen on watching this only to see whether the reviewers are accurate. The film is out in theatres.
Monster: This 2023 movie is finally releasing in India. It is from the award winning Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu—who won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes for ‘Shoplifters’ in 2018. The plot is set in rural Japan and focuses on a pre-teen named Minato (Soya Kurokawa) and his widowed mother Saori (Sakura Ando). Suddenly, Minato starts acting strangely—even jumping out of a moving car. Saori learns he is being bullied in school and confronts the administration but their response is even stranger. The film keeps asking you the question: who is the monster?
This is a highly rated film. BBC Culture says it can get “exhausting” but “it is still a marvel: a minutely observed, profoundly compassionate chronicle of untidy contemporary lives.” The Guardian gives a spoiler free review: “Monster isn’t about what it initially appears to be; the narrative peels away the diversionary misapprehensions until it arrives at its emotional kernel of truth, and the film offers us hope, not despair.” Our take: We will definitely put this one in our watchlist. The movie is out in theatres.
The Iron Claw: Named after the signature move by the famous wrestling persona of the 1950s—Fritz Von Erich, this movie is a family melodrama based on to Fritz’s true legacies—his sons Kevin (Zack Efron) and Kerry (Jeremy Allen White) who took up wrestling and remained at the top of the pro wrestling pyramid in the 70s and 80s. But the story is all too familiar—an abusive father, a tragic death and an athlete who has to overcome it all.
The reviews are mixed. Variety loved it and says it “showcases the media theatrics of wrestling with an eerie unironic innocence, and the entire cast is superb.” OTOH The Guardian didn’t give it a rave review: “The Iron Claw is relatively straightforward and, despite a roster of committed performances, frustratingly opaque.” Our take: We are drawn to the film for the talented cast. You can watch the movie in theatres.
Bhakshak: The movie follows Vaishali Singh (Bhumi Pednekar) who is a local journalist who starts investigating a shelter for young girls where instances of abuse and heinous crimes have been reported. These shelters are run by Bansi Sahu, an influential politician who is pressurising the investigation taking place and is at the helm of this abuse. It is inspired by the true events of the sexual abuse racket in Muzzafarpur back in 2018.
The reviews all praise Bhumi Pednekar’s performance but note that the film could’ve been better. Hindustan Times says that while the crime drama falls into certain clichés it serves as a “hard-hitting story and compelling narrative” and the Scroll points out that the movie “squanders a perfectly good opportunity”. Our take: We are big fans of Bhumi Pednekar and curious about how she’ll tackle such a sensitive subject. This movie is also produced by SRK, so we’ll definitely be watching this. It came out on Netflix yesterday.
One Day: Here’s the perfect rom-com watch for the weekend. ‘One Day’ is a series based on David Nicholls's beloved 2009 novel of the same name that has sold 6 million copies. The story focuses on Emma (Ambika Mod) and Dex (Leo Woodall) whose love story spans 20 years from the late 80s —neatly packed in 14 episodes—during which they are in and out of each other's lives. Talk about soulmates!
Reviews are great! The spoiler-free review from The Guardian: “One Day is really about: the poetry of day-to-day life and the power of nostalgia.” BBC Culture gives it the highest rating an adaptation can get, saying: “This beautiful, note-perfect adaptation really does it justice.” Our take: With Valentine’s Day ahead of us, we are looking for some love—albeit in the fictional form. The series dropped on Netflix yesterday.
A Killer Paradox: One for the K-drama fans! This is from Lee Chang-hee—the director of terrifying psychological thrillers “Hell Is Other People” and “The Vanished”—who really is the best person to make the award-winning webtoon ‘A Killer Paradox’ into a drama. The plot is a cat and mouse chase between a college student-turned-murderer who kills only criminals Lee Tang (played by Choi Woo-sik—best known for ‘Parasite’ and ‘Our Beloved Summer’) and detective Jang Nan-gam (played by Son Suk-ku best known for ‘My Liberation Notes’ and ‘DP’) who wants to catch him.
Not many reviews are out for the series. Korea Herald notes that fans of the webtoon will appreciate that the series is faithful to the original source material. Our take: We are super intrigued by the plot and love these actors. The first of the eight episodes started streaming on Netflix yesterday.
Lantrani: This is an anthology featuring three separate short films set in rural India. The three tales—’Dharna Mana Hai’, ‘Hud Hud Dabang’ and ‘Sanitized Samachar’—look at survival in small-towns in India. Stories range from a crisis during the COVID 19 pandemic to the life of a police constable and a woman of the scheduled caste community who gets elected to the panchayat for the first time.
Critics aren’t particularly impressed with the anthology. Scroll says that ‘Dharna Mana Hai’ is the most “engrossing episode” while Film Companion writes that the anthology is “dated” and “it isn’t long enough to derive a fair result”. Our take: We like anthologies, they are varied and show compelling stories. Besides, this one features Johny Lever in a contrasting role and we can’t wait to watch him on screen again. The movie is out on ZEE5.
Here’s a new chapter…
Aarya Season 3: The Sushmita Sen headliner ‘Aarya’ is a sleek action thriller where the titular character is forced to take over her dead husband’s drug empire that controls the illegal opium trade and has to protect her family from run-ins with the law and criminals. In the third season, our femme fatale is dealing with the Russian mafia and making big bucks while struggling to protect her children who are going through their teen years. You can start streaming it on Disney+ Hotstar.
Abbot Elementary Season 3: Our favourite school is reopening. This award-winning mockumentary sitcom that follows an underfunded public school and its teachers, is back for the third season. The latest season focuses on different changes in the school taking place. We can’t wait to see the new shenanigans of these teachers and students. Watch it on Disney+ Hotstar.
Fresh off the big screen…
The Exorcist: Believer: This one’s for the true horror fans who like to watch and dissect these films. The much awaited sequel of ‘The Exorcist’ is here—which made its comeback after 50 years last October—under director David Gordon Green who helmed another iconic franchise Halloween trilogy. The trailer has the plot.
Black: This 2005 film by Sanjay Leela Bhasali starring the compelling Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee is making its digital debut for the first time since 19 years of its release! The story is inspired from the life of Helen Keller. You can watch it on Netflix.