In Theaters: January 19, 2018

No new Hindi films open in the Chicago area on Friday, January 19, 2018, making way for next weekend’s double feature. MovieMax Cinemas in Niles carries over 1921, and the AMC South Barrington 24 gives a second week to Mukkabaaz. Both theaters hold on to Tiger Zinda Hai for a fifth weekend.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in Chicagoland this weekend:

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Streaming Video News: January 15, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with several new additions to the catalog. The 2017 Kannada film Urvi is now available for streaming, as are the 1980s Hindi movies Alibaba Aur 40 Chor and Pyar Ke Do Pal. The most intriguing new addition is the Jennifer Winget-Kunal Kohli romance Phir Se, which was completed back in 2015. Kohli — who produced and directed Phir Se, his acting debut — was sued for copyright infringement by Daawat-e-Ishq writer Jyoti Kapoor, stalling the film’s initial release. After paying a settlement, Kohli finally elected to skip theaters and release the movie straight to Netflix for its worldwide debut. In case you need a refresher on Phir Se, here’s the trailer:

I also made some updates to my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime, adding a bunch of newly discovered Bengali movies that start with the letter “C.” Now onto letter “D”! For everything else new on Netflix and Amazon Prime — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Bollywood Box Office: January 12-14, 2018

The first new Hindi releases of 2018 met very different fates in their opening weekend in North America. Mukkabaaz fared the better of the two from January 12-14, 2018, collecting $39,489 from 17 theaters ($2,323 average). Canada’s contribution to that total was $470 from a single theater, though to be fair, the film already played in the country last fall during the Toronto International Film Festival.

The weekend’s other new release, 1921 — the latest sequel in the 1920 horror franchise — only opened in the United States, where it took in $4,583 from ten theaters ($458 average). Eek!

Tiger Zinda Hai wrapped up its fourth weekend here with $94,725 from 49 theaters ($1,933 average), bringing its total to $5,775,529. Fukrey Returns got a sixth weekend at a single theater, earning $205 and raising its total North American earnings to $396,389.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Kahaani 2 (2016)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon

It’s unrealistic to expect Kahaani 2 to replicate the success of a movie as special as Kahaani, but the sequel lacks many of the elements that made the original so memorable.

Writer-director Sujoy Ghosh again taps Vidya Balan to play a character named Vidya searching for a lost loved one in West Bengal. Kahaani 2‘s Vidya — Sinha this time, not Bagchi — is mother to a 14-year-old girl, Minnie (Tunisha Sharma), who is paralyzed from the waist down. The pair lives in the town of Chandan Nagar, about an hour away from Kolkata. Vidya returns from work to find her daughter missing, the girl’s phone and wheelchair left behind.

While the original Kahaani‘s Vidya spent the film tracking her missing husband with the help of a smitten police officer, the sequel’s Vidya is sidelined early on. It falls on a different cop, Inder (Arjun Rampal), to discover what’s going on when he stumbles upon an accident scene and recognizes the injured woman. However, he knows the victim by the name of Durga Rani Singh, not Vidya Sinha.

Inder’s only clue is Vidya/Durga’s diary, which chronicles events from eight years ago, when Minnie was six years old (played by cute Naisha Khanna) and the duo lived north in Kalimpong. Most of Balan’s scenes in the film are from these flashbacks. It’s frustrating that her character is inactive for much of the present-day storyline.

Inder takes the lead on the case as he adjusts to a new environment. A “gut feeling” gone wrong got him demoted from Kolkata to normally uneventful Chandan Nagar. Precisely how he earned his demotion isn’t explained, but all signs point to Inder being a decent guy. He’s got a sweet daughter and a wife, Rashmi (Manini Chadha), with whom he shares a playful antagonism. Even though Rashmi knows her husband is keeping something from her, she resists the urge to snoop in Vidya’s diary, waiting until Inder is ready to tell her the truth.

While Inder is a fine character, his problems aren’t are dire as Vidya’s, thus Ghosh’s choice to present the two character arcs in parallel doesn’t work. Vidya and Minnie find themselves in a life-or-death struggle, only for the action to cut to Inder fretting about whether his work on the case will earn him a promotion back to Kolkata. The stakes are so unequal that juxtaposing them makes Inder look more frivolous than he really is.

Balan is compelling in everything that she does, and Kahaani 2 is no different. It falls on her to deliver Ghosh’s message about the enduring trauma of sexual abuse, and she does so powerfully. Both girls who play Minnie do a lovely job and show tremendous promise. Also noteworthy is a sweet turn by Tota Roychoudhury as Arun, Vidya’s mild-mannered suitor in Kalimpong.

There are some beautifully vivid shots of Chandan Nagar at night, but the town doesn’t have a strongly defined identity the way that Kolkata did in the original Kahaani. That’s most obvious difference between the films, and — more than anything else — it is what marks Kahaani 2 as the inferior of the two movies.

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Opening January 12: 1921 and Mukkabaaz

Two new Hindi films open in Chicago on January 12, 2018, albeit in very small release. The horror sequel 1921 gets the bigger theatrical footprint, opening in MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington.

Also hitting the South Barrington 24 on Friday is director Anurag Kashyap’s boxing drama Mukkabaaz, which has a runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min.

Tiger Zinda Hai gets a fourth weekend at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in Chicagoland this weekend:

Streaming Video News: January 9, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with one new addition. The Hindi horror movie The House Next Door joins its Tamil version, Aval, in the streaming catalog. For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Here’s an update on my progress with my growing list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime. As you may recall, Amazon shut down Heera last week, moving almost all of their Indian films from behind Heera’s paywall and into the general Prime catalog. I double-checked all of the Bollywood films from my Heera page and incorporated those that made the jump into the list on my Prime page. Eleven of the titles on my Heera page are no longer available for streaming at all, and fourteen — including Krrish 3 and Hum Saath-Saath Hain — are only available with a subscription to Eros Now through Amazon Channels (which you can try free for seven days).

For the most part, I’ve completed the Bollywood portion of my Amazon Prime page, although I’m still finding random titles that I didn’t know were available — like Aurangzeb! — because Amazon’s catalog is such a mess. The bulk of my remaining work is adding movies available in other Indian languages, and holy crap, there are a ton of them. Yesterday, I found 28 films I didn’t know were available just with titles starting with the letter “A”! I’ve further subdivided the movies by language, which should make it easier to find specific films.

As I said, this is a work in progress, and I appreciate your patience as I fill out the list. I’m trying to be as accurate as possible, saving you from the wild goose chases I’ve been on: following broken links and deciphering Amazon’s sometimes weird spelling.

All the best,
Kathy

Bollywood Box Office: January 5-7, 2018

Tiger Zinda Hai is rolling right along in North America, earning another $337,474 from 165 theaters ($2,045 average) during the weekend of January 5-7, 2018, according to Bollywood Hungama. Box Office Mojo pegged Tiger Zinda Hai‘s earnings as of January 4 at $5,197,546, which fits with Hungama’s reported total of $5,536,542 after adding in the weekend’s collections.

Fukrey Returns got a fifth — and surely final — weekend at one US theater, earning $200 and bringing its total to $395,550.

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama