Opening February 22: Total Dhamaal

The latest release in the Dhamaal franchise — Total Dhamaal — hits Chicago area theaters February 22, 2019. Series regulars Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, and Javed Jaffrey are joined by Madhuri Dixit Nene, Anil Kapoor, and Ajay Devgn in this adventure comedy.

Total Dhamaal opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Arclight Chicago in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, Arclight Glenview in Glenview, Buffalo Grove Theater in Buffalo Grove, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 6 min.

After a stellar opening weekend, Gully Boy carries over at the River East 21, MovieMax, Niles 12, South Barrington 24, Rosemont 18, Cantera 17, Naperville 16, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Uri: The Surgical Strike keeps going strong at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and Woodridge 18. Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi carries over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24, which also holds over Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend (all titles have English subtitles):

*The first film in the NTR series — NTR: Kathanayakudu — is available on Amazon Prime.

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Bollywood Box Office: February 15-17, 2019

I’ve missed a few North American box office reports in recent weeks due to some family health problems, so let’s catch up on the big stories:

Gully Boy just had a monster opening weekend, bringing in $1,833,035 from 255 theaters ($7,188 average) from February 15-17, 2019, according to Bollywood Hungama. Including opening day returns from February 14 makes its total officially $2,129,483, but Monday’s Presidents Day holiday in the United States surely pushed that past the $2.5 million mark.

What the heck is going on with Uri: The Surgical Strike? It just finished its sixth weekend in North America with earnings of $169,506 from 51 theaters ($3,324 average), per Box Office Mojo. Wanna know how many 2018 releases earned more than $100K in their sixth weekend? Zero. Uri‘s continued popularity is remarkable. It closed out the weekend with total earnings of $3,958,534, but it’s past $4 million now thanks to Monday’s holiday.

On the flip side, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga fell off FAST. With Uri still making good money for exhibitors, Ek Ladki dropped 150 theaters going into its third weekend in order to make room for Gully Boy. As a consequence, Ek Ladki earned just $50,000 from 43 theaters ($1,163 average) over the weekend. With total earnings of $1,172,088 (including Presidents Day), it looks like Ek Ladki will struggle to hit $1.2 million here.

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi trailed just behind, with $30,625 from 24 theaters ($1,276 average) in its fourth weekend. It has total earnings of $1,358,850 thus far.

Simmba stuck around in one theater, adding $72 to its $5.1 million total.

And while I know Amavas played in at least one US theater over the weekend, I don’t have any earnings numbers for it. Suffice it to say, the numbers would certainly be worse that the horror film’s opening weekend last weekend: $606 from seven theaters ($87 average). Truly terrifying.

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Streaming Video News: February 19, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with fifteen additions in the last few days. Notable new additions include the Hindi version of K.G.F: Chapter 1 and the 2018 releases:

Bade Changay Ne Mere Yaar Kaminey, CityLights, and Dum Laga Ke Haisha were already available for streaming, so I’m not sure why Prime now needs two versions.

Amazon Prime Video India tweeted a couple of upcoming release dates today. The 2019 Tamil action film Viswasam comes to Prime on February 25, followed by the original series Made in Heaven from Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti on March 8. There’s even a billboard advertising Made in Heaven in Gully Boy:

For everything else new on Amazon Prime — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: February 15, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with nine newly added Indian films, including the 2018 Telugu movies Awe and Neevevaro. Kalki Koechlin’s 2017 Hindi release Candyflip is now available, as is Kareena Kapoor Khan’s Chameli. Ranvir Shorey fans can choose from Fatso, Pyaar Ke Side Effects, and Ugly Aur Pagli.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime today with seven new additions, which amounts to a slow day for Prime. Fifty-two Indian movies in total have been added in the four days since my last streaming video update, among them a new comedy special featuring Kanan Gill and Kenny Sebastian — Sketchy Behaviour — and Gully Boy: Live in Concert.

In other Prime news, the Hindi version of K.G.F: Chapter 1 will be available for streaming February 16.

For everything else new on Prime and Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: February 11, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with more than 40 titles added in the last three days. In addition to half a dozen releases from last year — Kaali, Kala Viplavam PranayamMohini, Naachiyaar, Nartansala, and Yuddha Bhoomi — Prime also added two movies that release theatrically in 2019: the Tamil film Kuthoosi and the Telugu comedy F2 — Fun and Frustration, which is still playing in one Chicago area theater! Katrina Kaif & Ranbir Kapoor’s amusing 2009 comedy Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani is also now available for streaming.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with some titles I discovered via the  service’s recently created Indian TV Shows genre category. I found the reality show Queens of Comedy, the horror series Fear Files: Har Mod Pe Darr and Darr Sabko Lagta Hai (hosted by Bipasha Basu!), and several animated shows for kids:

Streaming Video News: February 8, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with more than 60 Indian films added in the last week. Today’s big new addition is the Telugu film NTR: Kathanayakudu, which released in theaters just last month! K.G.F: Chapter 1 was recently added to Prime in four languages (but not Hindi):

If you haven’t caught up with the Amazon original series Four More Shots Please! yet, Shah Shahid highly recommends it.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix at the beginning of the month with three “new” Indian titles: Manusangada (2017/Tamil), Truckbar Swapna (2018/Marathi), and Talvar, which is back after a two-month vacation. Note that Netflix lists Talvar by its international title, Guilty.

In Theaters: February 8, 2019

One new Hindi film opens in Chicago area theaters on February 8, 2019, and it’s up against stiff competition from early Bollywood releases. Nargis Fakhri stars in the horror movie Amavas, from Alone director Bhushan Patel.

Amavas opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 14 min.

Last weekend’s big hit — Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga — holds over at MovieMax, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi gets a third week at MovieMax, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17.

Uri: The Surgical Strike carries over for a fifth week at the River East 21, MovieMax, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Streaming Video News: January 29, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a bunch of Indian films — usually ten or so new titles every day. In addition to 2007’s Jab We Met, 2010’s Aisha, and the Amazon original Hindi series Four More Shots Please!, a lot of 2018 releases were added recently:

There are also several Marathi films set to expire from Prime on January 31: Hou De Jarasa Ushir, Mukkam Post Dhanori, Nilkanth Master, and Yoddha.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with two 2018 releases: the Kannada film Nathicharami and Pahuna, a Nepali-language film about a trio of kids trying to survive in India, produced by Priyanka Chopra.

Movie Review: Tumbbad (2018)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Tumbbad on Amazon Prime

Hindi-film fans in the United States had to wait until Tumbbad made its streaming video debut to finally catch the horror movie that captivated audiences in India and at film festivals around the world. But boy was it worth the wait! Filmmaker Rahi Anil Barve’s fable eschews metaphor in favor of shockingly literal depictions of its underlying mythology. It is a cautionary tale of the dangers of greed — with consequences presented in brutal detail. That the film’s protagonist forges ahead, knowing full well what doom awaits him, highlights how all-consuming the desire for more can be.

Broken into three chapters, Tumbbad begins in 1918, in a fading village bearing the same name as the title. Tumbbad’s governing family gained its wealth by worshiping Hastar, the disgraced son of the Goddess of Prosperity, imprisoned in his mother’s womb for stealing her gold. Legend has it that there is a treasure hidden in Tumbbad’s mansion, but the aged lord of the manor (played by Madhav Hari Josh) won’t divulge its secrets — not even to his mistress (Jyoti Malshe), with whom he fathered two sons: Vinayak (Dhundiraj Prabhakar Joglekar) and Sadashiv (Rudra Soni).

The lord’s mistress is tasked not only with meeting his carnal needs, but also keeping alive his ancient grandmother (played by Piyush Kaushik), while making sure she never wakes up. The mistress’s family lives in the same house as the scary old lady, and though the kids don’t know the details of her curse, preteen Vinayak is pretty sure his grandmother knows something about the treasure. A series of tragedies give the boy his chance to ask Granny directly — a mistake that nearly costs him his life. Saved by Mom, they flee to Pune.

Chapter Two picks up fifteen years later, in 1933. With Mom dead, now-adult Vinayak (Sohum Shah) is freed from his promise to her never to return to Tumbbad. Their old house still stands, and Granny is, to put it politely, in bad shape. Her appearance reminded me of something out of Lars Von Trier’s Danish TV series The Kingdom, which gave me nightmares for weeks. Granny gives Vinayak the information he needs to find the treasure, calling him a “greedy bastard.” “It’s my only quality,” he replies.

Tumbbad‘s straightforward dialogue makes it highly memorable, like Granny’s ominous warning: “Not all that is inherited should be claimed.” In Chapter Three, Vinayak’s 14-year-old son Pandurang (Mohammad Samad) tells his mother, Vaidehi (Anita Date), that his father doesn’t actually like anything, despite having accumulated a massive fortune. Vaidehi asks, “Then what’s the point?”

That’s Tumbbad‘s ultimate lesson: succumbing to greed means surrendering one’s will to a desire that can never be sated, leaving you miserable and mean as a result. The lure of unlimited treasure makes Vinayak willing to take risks that seem insane, given that he knows how horrible and immediate the consequences are, with Granny as his example. Chapter Three is set in 1947, and with age catching up to him, Vinayak is compelled to train Pandurang in the family business. It’s an act of unthinkable cruelty that takes advantage of the boy’s desire to win his father’s love. Poor Pandurang doesn’t understand that his father has no love to give.

Setting the film in the first half of the 20th Century allows for interesting parallels to India’s national independence, and the limited reach of electronic technology creates a chilling atmosphere. Atmosphere is where Tumbbad really excels, after all. Eerie locations and sets are awash in supersaturated colors, the dark mood enhanced a fantastic, menacing score by video game composer Jesper Kyd. All the acting performances fit so perfectly into the world of Tumbbad, as well. The longer I ruminate on the movie, the more impressed I am by it.

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Opening January 25: Manikarnika and Thackeray

Two new Hindi films hit Chicago area theaters on January 26, 2019. The wider release of the two goes to Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, starring Kangana Ranuat. In response to right-wing threats leveled against the period drama, Ranaut said: “If they don’t stop then they should know I am also a Rajput and I will destroy each one of them.” Awesome.

Manikarnika opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville. MovieMax is also showing the film in Telugu and Tamil at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Manikarnika has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 53 min.

The weekend’s other new release is Thackeray, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the far-right political leader Bal Thackeray.

Thackeray also opens Friday at MovieMax, Cantera 17, and the AMC Niles 12 in Niles. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 10 min.

Uri: The Surgical Strike carries over for a third week at the River East 21, MovieMax, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and the AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

The South Barrington 24 also holds over The Accidental Prime Minister and Simmba.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend: