Streaming Video Update: October 24, 2014

I updated my list of Hindi films streaming on Netflix because two movies are expiring soon. The 2008 documentary Children of the Pyre leaves the streaming service on October 29, 2014. Just two days later — on October 31 — Ishaqzaade makes way. If Haider got you in the mood for more Shakespeare, you’ll want to check out this terrific Romeo & Juliet tale from 2012 starring Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor.

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Watch A. R. Rahman Live in Concert Online

Legendary film composer A. R. Rahman will receive an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music in Boston on October 24, 2014. To mark the occasion, Rahman will perform a concert with the school’s Indian Ensemble. Proceeds from the concert benefit a scholarship in Rahman’s name that provides funds for Indian students to attend the school.

Though the concert is sold out, it’s going to be streamed online starting at 8 p.m. Eastern on Friday. Here’s where you can watch the concert live. If you need more incentive to watch — “Free A. R. Rahman concert” isn’t incentive enough? — check out the video below of the Berklee Indian Ensemble performing Rahman’s “Jiya Jale” from Dil Se. They’re fabulous.

Opening October 24: Happy New Year

One of the most hotly anticipated Bollywood movies of the year hits theaters on October 24, 2014. Happy New Year — starring Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Boman Irani, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood, and Vivaan Shah — gets a wide release in the Chicago area.

Several local theaters are offering preview showings of Happy New Year on Thursday night: MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, Marcus Addison in Addison, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. On Friday, Happy New Year gets its official release in these additional theaters: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, AMC Loews Crestwood 18 in Crestwood, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 45 min.

The South Barrington 30 and MovieMax are both giving a fourth week to Haider and Bang Bang, which also carries over at the Cantera 17.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Kaththi (Tamil with English subtitles) at the Rosemont 18, Marcus Addison, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, and MovieMax, which is also carrying Pyaar Vali Love Story (Marathi), Poojai (Tamil), Oka Laila Kosam (Telugu), Vellimoonga (Malayalam), and Dikkulu Choodaku Ramayya (Telugu).

New Trailer: October 22, 2014

The trailer for the December 5 release Action Jackson is out. It doesn’t do much to alleviate my concerns about the film’s potential for casual misogyny, a Prabhu Deva hallmark. However, it does feature Ajay Devgn chopping people with swords, which makes Action Jackson an automatic “must see.” Check it out:


Movie Review: Miss Lovely (2012)

Miss_Lovely_(2012_film)2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon

Miss Lovely is undoubtedly stylish, but to what end? An emphasis on visual aesthetics at the expense of story leaves the viewer adrift in this drama set in the Indian porn industry in the 1980s.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui — who gives another fantastic performance in Miss Lovely — narrates the film. He plays Sonu, the younger of a pair of brothers specializing in C-grade horror-porn. His elder brother, Vicky (Anil George), runs their operation, treating Sonu like a glorified gopher.

Director Ashim Ahluwalia doesn’t explain the structural organization of the illegal porn industry and how the characters fit into it. Vicky and Sonu “make” the movies, though they don’t direct them themselves. They peddle their films through a distributor named Heera (Manoj Bakshi), though they also deal with a bigwig named PK (Ragesh Asthana) who represents some foreign investors. There’s also a little person named Tiku (Zaheer Khan), who is some sort of casting agent.

Things go south when Vicky tries to cut Heera out of the business and distribute their films to theaters directly. Sonu — who’s sick of being bossed around by Vicky — falls in love with a woman he sees on a train, Pinky (Niharika Singh), vowing to make his own movie and turn her into a star. To do so, he steals from his brother.

It’s unclear how Vicky and Sonu actually plan to achieve their ambitions, just that they shouldn’t have them. Fate and everyone else in the industry make the brothers pay for aspiring above their station.

There are a lot of great-looking scenes and shots in Miss Lovely. Wide shots of the brothers’ movie sets are charmingly lowbrow. Party scenes are tacky and vibrant. A shot of Sonu holding a pair of drinks while standing in the middle of a smoky dance floor is beautifully composed.

However, the surfeit of establishing shots just seem like showing off. A dingy exterior shot of factory lasts for ten seconds, only to cut to another dingy shot of the same factory from a different angle. There’s a lot of visual setup with no payoff.

Characters aren’t developed enough to seem like more than representations of character types. Pinky is a woman with a mysterious past, but the revelation of her true nature is glossed over. Even Sonu is so lightly drawn that it’s hard to invest in his success or failure.

The most fleshed out of the characters is sleazy wannabe Vicky. His motivations are obvious, especially in his clumsy attempts to become a power player. He exerts his sexual dominance over women because they’re even less powerful than he is. George is perfectly scummy in the role.

Miss Lovely is a fine showcase of Ahluwalia’s potential, and it’s worth watching to see a director whose career is on the way up. However, as a self-contained story, Miss Lovely is only a partial success.


Streaming Video News: October 21, 2014

I just updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix to include a new addition to the streaming service: 2013’s Chashme Baddoor starring Ali Zafar. Note that the title is misspelled on Netflix as Chashme Buddoor, which is the title of a film from 1981. I thought the remake was cute.

For everything else new on Netflix, check Instant Watcher.

Bollywood Box Office: October 17-19

Bang Bang and Haider continued their strong box office performances in their last uncontested weekend before Shahrukh Khan’s Happy New Year hits theaters. In its third weekend in North America, Bang Bang earned an additional $138,308 from 128 theaters ($1,081 average per screen), bringing its total earnings to $2,523,614. That makes it the second highest earning Hindi film in North America in 2014, behind The Lunchbox.

Haider added $62,361 from 49 theaters ($1,273 average) to its coffers, bringing its total earnings in the United States and Canada to $1,022,727. That total puts it in eighth place in North America for the year.

Other Hindi movies showing in U.S. and Canadian theaters during the weekend of October 17-19, 2014:

  • Khoobsurat: Week 5; $2,296 from three theaters; $765 average; $725,610 total
  • The Lunchbox: Week 34; $370 from one theater; $4,050,233 total
  • Daawat-e-Ishq: Week 5; $229 from one theater; $385,415 total

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama