Bollywood Box Office: March 15-17, 2019

Badla held up extremely well in its second weekend in North America. It retained almost 80% of its opening weekend business after expanding into 21 more theaters, earning $465,342 from 115 theaters ($4,046 average) during the weekend of March 15-17, 2019, according to Box Office Mojo. Its $1,313,740 total currently ranks fifth for the year among Hindi films released in North America, but it will pass Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi and move into fourth place before next weekend.

Other Bollywood movies still showing in North America:

  • Gully Boy: Week 5; $103,572 from 60 theaters; $1,726 average; $5,300,978 total
  • Luka Chuppi: Week 3; $66,815 from 54 theaters; $1,237 average; $963,904 total
  • Total Dhamaal: Week 4; $59,133 from 54 theaters; $1,095 average; $2,151,507 total
  • Uri: Week 10; $6,586 from five theaters; $1,317 average; $4,183,341 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo


Streaming Video News: March 18, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with about twenty Indian films added today and over the weekend, including what I think is Prime’s first Hindi theatrical release of 2019. Fraud Saiyaan debuted in Indian theaters on January 18th, but it didn’t open internationally. The comedy features Arshad Warsi romancing a bunch of much younger women, including Barkhaa‘s Sara Loren. The trailer isn’t subtitled, but we all get the gist:

Streaming Video News: March 15, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with several recent additions to the catalog. Two 2018 Hindi films — the LGTBQ family drama Evening Shadows and Radhika Apte’s Bombairiya — are now available for streaming, as is 2017’s Bhasmasur. Other newly added 2018 releases include the Tamil movie Genius and the Tamil and Telugu versions of Sarkar.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with more than 50 new additions in the last week. I’m really excited that the 2013 spy thriller D-Day is available for streaming again, because it hasn’t been for a couple of years. It has one of my all-time favorite song picturizations and great performances by Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, and Huma Qureshi. Prime also added a number of 2019 theatrical releases to its streaming catalog:

In Theaters: March 15, 2019

The March 15, 2019, release date for Ritesh Batra’s Photograph is for India only. We won’t get it in the States until May 17. Looks like Chicago area Bollywood fans will have to make due with the films already available this weekend.

Last weekend’s new release Badla, carries over at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and expands to the AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Gully Boy gets a fifth week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17 all hold over Luka Chuppi and Total Dhamaal.

Other Indian movies showing in Chicago area theaters (all films have English subtitles unless indicated):

Movie Review: Gully Boy (2019)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes
Watch Gully Boy: Live in Concert on Amazon Prime

Aspiring filmmakers should study Gully Boy as a masterclass in character creation. Every character has a place in the story’s social fabric, and we see how they fit into the wider world — not just how they relate to the protagonist.

Murad (Ranveer Singh) is the spoke around which the rest of the characters in Gully Boy turn, but there’s always a sense that they have lives that continue when he’s not around. Murad suspects his criminal friend Moeen (Vijay Varma) is up to something dangerous, but he isn’t sure, since they’re not together all the time. The parents of their buddy Salman (Nakul Roshan Sahdev) are looking for a bride for him — something Murad’s fiery girlfriend Safeena (Alia Bhatt) uses to her advantage when the couple are on the outs.

Too often, Hindi movies with a male protagonist played by a big star consider the hero’s love interest only in terms of how she relates to him. Director Zoya Akhtar and writer Reema Kagti make sure that Safeena’s character is fully developed, showing her relationships with her parents and Murad’s friends. This doesn’t take away from Murad’s importance to the story, but instead emphasizes how he fits into his world. Giving all the characters agency adds to the movie’s realism and reinforces the notion that Murad’s actions have consequences for other people.

He and Safeena have kept their relationship secret from their parents for years, assuming that they’ll announce their intention to married when she finishes medical school and he earns a business degree. When Murad begins participating in the local rap scene, it changes the trajectory of his life and Safeena’s. Even though she supports his new endeavor, it means adjusting the plans for their future, since rapper isn’t an occupation that any of their conservative parents would approve of. A powerful scene in which Safeena asks her parents for the freedom to go places other than school highlights what she and Murad are up against, if he strays from the safe path to follow his dream.

Murad’s lyrics are born out of anger at the injustice that defines his world and limits his opportunities. His father, Aftab (Vijay Raaz in a chilling performance), accepts the limits imposed on poor Muslims and views educating Murad as a waste of money, since he’ll likely just end up a driver like his father anyway. Quashing Murad’s aspirations is a way of protecting himself from the truth that his own life might be better had he allowed himself to dream, instead of accepting what was forced upon him.

Gully Boy doesn’t pretend that Murad can succeed on desire alone, given the enormous societal forces he has to contend with at both the top and bottom of India’s economic ladder. He hones his craft under the tutelage of MC Sher (star-in-the-making Siddhant Chaturvedi), an established local rapper who understands Murad’s frustration and sees him as a voice for the underdogs in their neighborhood.

Ranveer Singh did his own rapping in the film, and the music overall is really good. (It would have been nice if the lyrics of the incidental music had been subtitled, and not just the lyrics from Murad’s scenes.) The lone weak points in Gully Boy are rap battle scenes — insult contests that have little in common with Murad’s introspective lyric-writing. I don’t know if one must be adept at rap battles to be considered a good rapper — or how one even wins a rap battle — but the sequences are dull.

Although Gully Boy isn’t an ensemble picture like Akhtar’s two most recent feature films — 2015’s Dil Dhadakne Do and 2011’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara — it almost feels as though it is, given how much care went into fleshing out the characters in orbit around the protagonist. Akhtar’s fascination with the connections between people sets her apart from her contemporaries and makes her one of India’s most compelling filmmakers.


Bollywood Box Office: March 8-10, 2019

Badla had the second-best opening-weekend per-screen average for the year so far in North America. From March 8-10, 2019, the thriller earned $596,446 from 94 theaters ($6,345 average), according to Box Office Mojo. That opening-weekend per-screen average ranks just ahead of Uri: The Surgical Strike‘s $6,249 but well behind Gully Boy‘s $7,927.

Luka Chuppi held steady in its second weekend, per Bollywood Hungama’s reporting, earning $179,166 from 103 theaters ($1,739 average) and bringing its total to $814,426. Last weekend‘s other new release — Sonchiriya — continued on its tragic path, holding over just 5% of its opening weekend business. Box Office Mojo reports earnings of just $2,880 from eight theaters ($360 average), for total earnings of $85,148.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Gully Boy: Week 4; $192,665 from 106 theaters; $1,818 average; $5,117,529 total
  • Total Dhamaal: Week 3; $156,180 from 118 theaters; $1,324 average; $2,020,732 total
  • Uri: Week 9; $13,020 from nine theaters; $1,447 average; $4,173,302 total
  • Manikarnika: Week 7; $204 from one theater; $1,385,664 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Streaming Video News: March 8, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with more than 50 Indian titles added in the last week, the most exciting of which is Zoya Akhtar’s new original drama series Made In Heaven (also available in 4K Ultra HD). Other recently added 2019 releases include:

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with several additions since the first of the month, including the original series Cricket Fever: Mumbai Indians. Other newly added titles include the Tamil movie Sarvam Thaala Mayam and the Hindi films Contract, Dear Dad, I Am, and War Chhod Na Yaar, which is meh. If you’ve been meaning to watch Zila Ghaziabad on Netflix, don’t bother you have until March 15 to do so.

Today, Netflix announced a June 14 debut date for the dystopian Hindi series Leila, starring Huma Qureshi. The teaser has a definite Handmaid’s Tale vibe about it.

Opening March 8: Badla

Releasing in Chicago area theaters on March 8, 2019, Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh’s thriller Badla reunites Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan for the first time since their 2016 hit Pink.

Badla opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hours.

Another new release of interest to Bollywood fans is the India-set, English-language film The Wedding Guest, starring Dev Patel, Radhika Apte, and Jim Sarbh. The thriller opens locally in limited release at the River East 21 and Century Centre Cinema in Chicago.

Luka Chuppi looks to build on its solid opening weekend performance, carrying over at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Last weekend’s other new release — Sonchiriya — only holds over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Total Dhamaal is still going strong at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, Buffalo Grove Theater in Buffalo Grove, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Same goes for Gully Boy, which gets a fourth week at the River East 21, MovieMax, Niles 12, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, Naperville 16, and Woodridge 18.

Uri: The Surgical Strike sticks around for a ninth week at the South Barrington 24.

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

Bollywood Box Office: March 1-3, 2019

The two most recent Hindi releases had very different opening weekends in North America. The Kriti Sanon-Karthik Aaryan romantic comedy Luka Chuppi did well, taking in $440,705 from 144 theaters ($3,060 average), according to Bollywood Hungama.

On the other hand, Sonchiriya did really poorly, especially considering the number of theaters it opened in. The bandit drama earned $60,170 from 70 theaters ($860 average), per Box Office Mojo. Sonchiriya‘s per-theater average is half that of the next-worst opening weekend average this year: Thackeray‘s $1,729. I’m a fan of director Abhishek Chaubey — the man responsible for great films like Udta Punjab, Ishqiya, and Dedh Ishqiyaso this is a big bummer.

Other Hindi films still showing in North America:

  • Total Dhamaal: Week 2; $439,983 from 209 theaters; $2,015 average; $1,736,909 total
  • Gully Boy: Week 3; 411,409 from 164 theaters; $2,509 average; $4,783,800 total
  • Uri: Week 8; $34,511 from 15 theaters; $2,301 average; 4,155,109 total
  • Manikarnika: Week 6; $775 from two theaters; $388 average; $1,385,664

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Streaming Video News: February 28, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the exciting addition of the Malayalam film Mikhael, which debuted in theaters just six weeks ago! A handful of 2018 releases were also added in recent days, including Mannar Vagaiyara (Tamil), Natakam (Telugu), and Pakka (Tamil). Besides those more recent options, two older flicks with intriguing lead pairs joined the catalog as well: the 1978 Sridevi-Rajinikanth hit Priya and 2005’s 7 1/2 Phere: More Than a Wedding, starring Juhi Chawla and Irrfan Khan.

Marathi-film fans have until March 9 to watch 2017’s Baghtos Kay Mujra Kar before it expires from Prime.