Streaming Video News: April 1, 2015

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix to include one exciting new addition to the catalog. Queen is finally available for streaming! I adored this movie when it came out last year, and I’m so excited to watch it again. For Bollywood newbies who may find a full-on Shahrukh Khan musical melodrama a bit much, Queen is a great starter Hindi film. It’s just a great film, period.

Bollywood Box Office: March 27-29

With only one Hindi movie showing in the United States and Canada, there isn’t much to report in the way of box office figures for the weekend of March 27-29, 2015. In its third weekend, NH10 earned another $26,798 from 23 theaters ($1,165 average). That brings its North American total to $300,793.

The significance of that figure is that NH10 is only the third movie in 2015 to earn more than $300,000 in North America, out of ten Hindi films that have released here theatrically (*I don’t have figures for MSG: The Messenger of God, but I guarantee it earned less than $300,000). Furthermore, NH10 made its money on half the number of max screens (46) as the next highest earner — Badlapur, with $419,836 total and a max screen count of 92 — and less than half the max screens of the year’s highest earner, Baby ($730,288 total, max screens 99).

It’s also worth noting how dull business has been in the first three months of 2015 compared to the first three months of 2014. January-March, 2014, saw the release of sixteen Hindi movies into North American theaters, seven of which earned more than $300,000 (with three of those earning more than $1 million).

The sixteen films released in the first quarter of 2014 earned a total of $10,307,214. That’s an average of $644,201 per film. Even without the huge earnings of the non-traditionally distributed movie The Lunchbox, that’s still $6,319,821 from fifteen traditionally released Bollywood films. By comparison, total earnings from the first quarter of this year stand at $2,359,916. That works out to an average of $262,213 per film.

Granted, 2014 didn’t have a Cricket World Cup to contend with. Still, it’s obvious from the numbers that the films that have shipped out of Bollywood recently aren’t movies that the North American fanbase feels an urgent need to see. Given the titles that are slated for release, I don’t see the trend changing any time soon.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Sports Movies on Netflix

Click here to view my full, up-to-date list of all Hindi movies currently available on Netflix.

India’s semi-finals exit from the Cricket World Cup altered a lot of people’s weekend plans. If you’re still in a sporty mood, check out these Bollywood movies about athletes, available on Netflix:

ChakDeIndiaChak De! India (2007)

This is probably my favorite sports movie ever. Shahrukh Khan plays the coach of the talented but underestimated Indian national women’s field hockey team. It’s a great film for families, and especially for girls. Its pro-diversity message also makes it one of the most patriotic Bollywood films out there.

Kai_Poche_film_posterKai Po Che! (2013)

Three cricket-loving young men find their hopes for the future dashed by an earthquake and a wave of political and religious violence. Kai Po Che is worth watching for performances by some of Bollywood’s hottest young stars.

 

sikandarSikandar (2009)

Like Kai Po Che!, Sikandar is another film in which violence intrudes upon the life of a young athlete, this time a soccer player.

 

 

say-salaam-indiaSay Salaam India (2006)

A coach turns a bunch of wrestlers into cricket players.

 

 

ZnmdcoverZindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)

Three single friends go on one last road trip, challenging themselves with extreme sports like sky diving along the way. A fun movie with a super cast. My favorite part of ZNMD is the song “Señorita,” sung by the movie’s stars: Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, and Abhay Deol.

Halfway to the 88th Oscar Submission Deadline

Even though the 87th Academy Awards ceremony took place just last month, we’re almost halfway through the qualifying period for submissions to the 88th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Qualifying films must be released theatrically in their home country between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015. (Click here for the 87th Oscar’s eligibility rules.)  Accordingly, dozens of Hindi films already meet that qualification.

Since this blog focuses on Hindi-language films, I’m not going to discuss the merits of the dozens of movies in other Indian languages that would meet the qualifications. I’m also limited to movies that are, or have been, available in the United States. So, there are surely a few worthy Hindi films I’m going to miss.

Since October 1, 2014, I’ve given six films 3.5- or 4-star reviews. Let’s look at their chances:

As much as I enjoyed The Shaukeens and Kill Dil, they earned their stars primarily as great examples of their genres (comedy and revenge, respectively). I’m also ruling out Badlapur and NH10 because of similarities to other films — I Saw the Devil and Eden Lake, respectively — that could rub Oscar voters the wrong way.

That leaves us with Haider and PK. Haider — a gripping retelling of Hamlet set in a starkly beautiful, war-torn region — seems like an obvious choice to appeal to Oscar voters.

As charming and smart as PK is, it’s more mainstream than the average Foreign Language Oscar contender. Still, that fact could make it a bold choice for submission. It has high production values working in its favor, along with a funny and accessible performance by Aamir Khan, whom Oscar voters may remember from Lagaan.

Haider and PK would both make interesting challengers in the Foreign Language Oscar category. However, the Indian selection committee has in recent years chosen movies out of left field, regardless of their chance of actually winning the award (submitting The Good Road instead of The Lunchbox? Seriously?). I don’t know that either Haider or PK stands much of a chance of being selected by the committee, but I sure hope they are considered come September.

In Theaters: March 27, 2015

As expected, there are no new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area on Friday, March 27, 2015. The great thriller NH10 carries over for a third week at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Might be a good weekend to check out the selection of Bollywood movies on Netflix, no?

Movie Review: Samrat & Co. (2014)

Samrat_&_Co_—_poster2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

As a fan of the hit British TV series Sherlock, a Bollywood version of the same sounded like a disaster. Thankfully, Samrat & Co. is watchable, but just barely.

Bollywood’s Sherlock is Samrat (Rajeev Khandelwal), a detective who relieves stress by partaking in underground boxing matches. Lest the audience get a bad first impression, Samrat explains that his illicit prize money goes to charity. Never mind that boxing seems like a ridiculously dangerous pastime for a man who relies on his intellect to solve crimes.

The “Co.” of Samrat & Co. is just one guy, tabloid TV host Chakrandhar (Gopal Dutt). Just to make absolutely clear that the filmmakers know that they are making a Sherlock knockoff/tribute, Chakrandhar says, “I’m Watson, and he’s Sherlock.”

Apart from a story focused on a brilliant detective and his sidekick, Samrat & Co. has little in common with Sherlock. There are none of the visual effects that define the British series, except for one instance in which the solution to a word puzzle briefly floats on screen. (The film’s few puzzles are simple, and watching a character as supposedly brilliant as Samrat struggle with them is frustrating.)

Khandelwal’s Samrat is a normal guy, as socially at ease as Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is awkward. It’s the supporting cast — like dim-witted Chakrandhar and chatterbox maid Shanti (Puja Gupta) — whose attempts to add quirkiness to the movie prove more irritating than endearing.

The central mystery involves a rich man in Shimla — Mahendra Pratap Singh (Girish Karnad) — whose garden appears to be cursed. After Singh is murdered at his own birthday party, Samrat sorts through numerous suspects to find the killer.

The movie’s cast is huge, and there are way too many potential suspects to keep track of. When Samrat zeroes in on Deepak (Rajneesh Duggal) as a potential culprit, I was hardly sure who Deepak was. His character is introduced while Samrat scans some CCTV footage, and they have one brief conversation before their showdown. The showdown itself includes a bout in the world’s least safe fighting arena, perched on a cliff’s edge and ringed by a wooden picket fence. The insurance premiums must be outrageous.

Kandelwal’s performance is fine, but it’s not especially compelling. Madalsa Sharma is tolerable as Dimpy, Singh’s daughter and Samrat’s sort-of love interest. There’s not much to commend any of the supporting actors besides Shreya Narayan, whose character, Divya (Singh’s other daughter), is refreshingly mute.

As flawed as Samrat & Co. is, it deserves credit for trying something a little different. Mystery isn’t a common Bollywood genre, so the movie at least offers a change of pace. Samrat & Co. is neither great nor terrible.

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Bollywood Box Office: March 20-22

NH10 had a noteworthy second weekend in North American theaters. From March 20-22, 2015, NH10 earned another $76,122 from 36 theaters ($2,115 average), bringing its total earnings in the United States and Canada to $258,993.

What’s significant about NH10‘s performance is that its second-weekend business only dropped 47% from its opening weekend. It’s the only Hindi film released in 2015 to retain more than half its business from Week 1 to Week 2 (and from ten fewer theaters). Here’s how much business fell from Week 1 to Week 2 for other Bollywood movies released this year:

That’s a good sign for NH10, especially since it’s unlikely to have any new competition in theaters this coming weekend.

Badlapur carried over for a fifth weekend on one U.S. screen, from which it earned $322. That brings its North American total to $419,836.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama