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From Phillauri to Naam Shabana: Something for everyone at the theatres in March


With Naam Shabana, Phillauri, Trapped, and Anaarkali of Aarah, the month of March won't see any big budget release, but there is a lot to choose from. 

Shriram Iyengar

The large-scale period war drama, Rangoon, was the last of the February releases. While its debacle at the box office might be disheartening, it also marks the beginning of a tide of small movies like Phillauri, Trapped and Anaarkali of Aarah. Although there are no big production releases, Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Commando 2 and Machine, fall in the mid-budget category films that look promising. While these films do not match the scale of a Rangoon or Raees, they do deliver on the promise of interesting, eclectic content. Made at economical budgets, these films depend on tight scripts and entertaining stories that have proved efficient, and sometimes successful, at the box office.  

As the month of March begins, we take a look at the films that are leading the march at the counters. 

1. Commando 2

Vidyut Jammwal's turn as the one-man army set on ending corruption and black money is a film that tackles a very current issue. The recent move of demonetisation is fresh in public memory and might work in the film's favour. Directed by the unassuming Deven Bhojani, the film showcases all of Jammwal's martial art skills in its trailer, making it look like a montage. While the film might not necessarily prove a big hit, it will certainly hope to get the attention of an audience starved of all-out action films, since Force 2 last year. 

Commando 2 is set to release in theatres on 3 March. 

2. Badrinath Ki Dulhania 

While Shashank Khaitan's film is by no means small, it certainly is one of the big players of March. Starring the hit pair of Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt, the film is the second instalment in the franchise which began with Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2013). The film has already raised expectations with the spectacular song, 'Tamma Again', sending off vibes of a return to 1990s style of romance. The trailer has proved promising with the lead pair exhibiting the same chemistry that made the first film a massive hit. 

Badrinath Ki Dulhania is set to arrive in theatres on 10 March. 

3. Trapped 

Vikramaditya Motwane's touch of pathos and longing in Lootera (2013) was a sign of his constant maturation as one of the finest filmmakers of his generation. The director now returns with a grim looking drama in Trapped. Rajkummar Rao plays the unfortunate man who finds himself trapped in a secluded apartment on the top floor of a building in the city. A story of survival told in the typical dark humorous style of Motwane's films, Trapped received a standing ovation at its premiere at the 2016 MAMI Mumbai International Film Festival in the city. The film will also be Motwane's first tryst with the genre of thrillers, after having tried drama and romance in films like Udaan (2010) and Lootera.

Trapped is scheduled for a theatrical release on 17 March. 

4. Machine

The debut of director Mustan's son, Mustafa Burmawalla, has the look of some of Abbas-Mustan's highlight years. Starring Mustafa and Kiara Advani in the lead roles, the film marks the return of the director duo to the genre of thrillers after some time. With fast cars, a suspenseful story, and fresh new faces, the film looks a little more promising than Abbas-Mustan's last directorial, Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon (2015). The last time the director duo launched a young new face driving in fast cars, he became King Shah Rukh Khan. Whether it works the same way for Mustafa is something to be seen. 

Machine will be released on 17 March. 

4. Phillauri 

Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Suraj Sharma and Mehreen Pirzada star in the light-hearted comedy by Anshai Lal. Phillauri is being produced by Sharma's Clean Slate Films and Fox Star Studios. The film is another example of Anushka's eclectic choice as it tells the story of a young man who unfortunately weds a tree spirit, in his effort to escape a curse. Despite the presence of Suraj (from Life Of Pi), the film does carry an underdog tag. Anushka has had a fantastic debut as a producer with the hard hitting, NH10 (2015). This one looks to be exactly the kind of project that might mark her out as a smart producer of films. 

Directed by Lal, Phillauri is set to be released on 24 March. 

5. Anaarkali of Aarah 

Talk about perfect timing. The release of Swara Bhaskar-starrer Anaarkali of Aarah could not be better as the country witnesses yet another incident of a young woman being abused for her opinion and thoughts. Directed by Avinash Das, the film is the tale of a party singer in Delhi known for singing lewd songs at gatherings but does not take abuse lying down. The film stars Bhaskar, Sanjay Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi in lead roles. The trailer looks every bit the spunky film that an Indian audience, particularly women of all strata, will identify with. 

Anaarkali of Aarah is scheduled for release on 24 March. 

6. Naam Shabana 

The rise of Taapsee Pannu as an actress of repute with Pink (2016) and the recent, The Ghazi Attack (2017), is beneficial for her next, Naam Shabana. Directed by Shivam Nair, the film brings together, in some way, the team of Baby (2015). While the crux of the film revolves around Shabana (Taapsee's character) and her induction into the task force. With some bone-crushing action, Naam Shabana looks like a worthy successor to the sleeper hit Baby. There is also the additional attraction of watching Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpayee and Anupam Kher team up again. 

Naam Shabana wiill be released on 31 March.