Streaming Video News: June 27, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with one new addition to the catalog. The animated children’s movie Chhota Bheem and the Curse of Damyaan is now available for streaming. Half-a-dozen titles are set to expire from Netflix on July 1, including: Bajatey Raho, Darr @ the Mall, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Greater Elephant, and Kshay.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of the 2016 Malayalam movie Shyam to the streaming service. For everything else new on Amazon Prime or Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

And I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Heera because Action Replayy is now available for streaming. The only reason to watch the 2010 time travel comedy is to see just how far Aditya Roy Kapur has come as an actor, because he’s super annoying in Action Replayy.

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Bollywood Box Office: June 23-25, 2017

Salman Khan’s Tubelight debuted in second place in the United States among new Indian movies, behind Allu Arjun’s Telugu film DJ: Duvvada Jagannadham! Salman squeaked out victory in North America overall thanks to the contributions of theaters in Canada — where DJ didn’t even release. From June 23-25, 2017, Bollywood Hungama reports that Tubelight earned $926,816 from 372 North American theaters ($2,491 average; adjusted average of $2,710 from 342 theaters*). Of that total, $169,344 came from 30 Canadian theaters, amounting to 18% of the total earnings from just 8% of the total theaters (342). Gitesh Pandya of Box Office Guru reports North American earnings of $930,058 from 338 theaters ($2,752 average) for Tubelight. That total was good enough to rank in 14th place at the overall North American box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

It’s easy to forget that the notion of Salman as a box office gold mine is a recent development in North America. Until the blockbuster performance of Bajrangi Bhaijaan in the summer of 2015, none of Salman’s films managed to earn more than $2.5 million here. Tubelight should earn around $2 million over the course of its run, putting it in line with the earnings of his releases from 2011-2014 — movies like Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger, and Kick. We’ll have to wait until Tiger Zinda Hai releases this Christmas to see if Salman’s superb (if short) string of hits is really over.

DJ: Duvvada Jagannadham took in $873,249 from 190 US theaters ($4,596 average), 15th place overall at the North American box office.

Other Hindi movies still showing in the US:

  • Hindi Medium: Week 6; $9,228 from five theaters; $1,846 average; $773,477 total
  • Baahubali 2: Week 9; $726 from three theaters; $242 average; $20,786,308 total

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Sources: Box Office Guru, Box Office Mojo, and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Streaming Video News: June 25, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with two new additions to the catalog. The reprehensible 2017 thriller Kaabil is now available for streaming, though I’d discourage anyone from actually watching it. Instead, watch the classic Mughal-E-Azam, which also just joined the streaming service (thanks for the heads up, Gaurav!). For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Opening June 23: Tubelight

Salman Khan’s annual Eid release hits theaters on June 23, 2017. Tubelight is an official remake of the 2015 faith-based film Little Boy, with Salman essaying a role played by an 8-year-old in the original. Chinese actress Zhu Zhu costars in the movie.

Tubelight opens Friday in 342 theaters across North America, including the following Chicagoland theaters: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Dine-In Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and AMC Loews Crestwood 18 in Crestwood. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs 15 min.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Streaming Video News: June 21, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a major new addition to the catalog. Aamir Khan’s 2016 smash hit Dangal is now available for streaming. If you’re looking for a movie the whole family can enjoy, Dangal fits the bill perfectly. The London-set Desi comedy Amar Akbar & Tony was also recently added to the service. For everything else new on Netflix (Bollywood or not), check Instant Watcher.

Movie Review: The Ghazi Attack (2017)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon

This is a review of the Hindi version of The Ghazi Attack.

The novelty factor of an Indian submarine movie is plenty of reason to watch The Ghazi Attack, though the film itself is only so-so.

Set in 1971, when Bangladesh was East Pakistan, the film follows an Indian submarine as it tracks the Pakistani sub PNS Ghazi through the Bay of Bengal. The story is based on real-life events, though both countries differ on what actually happened.

Tensions are high as Pakistan cracks down on suspected Bengali militants in East Pakistan. India sends an aircraft carrier to the Bay of Bengal to disrupt the seaward supply route, and Pakistan dispatches the Ghazi in response. With all of its vessels otherwise occupied, the Indian Navy sends its own sub — the S21 — to investigate.

The S21 isn’t the Navy’s first choice, because its captain — Ranvijay Singh (Kay Kay Menon) — has a reputation for a hair-trigger. Singh is under orders not to fire on the Ghazi, but the admiral (played by Om Puri) doesn’t trust the captain. The admiral sends Lt. Commander Arjun Verma  (Rana Daggubati) on the mission to stop Singh from starting a war, no matter what.

Cynicism regarding institutions is expected in Hindi movies, with the government, the police, and the judiciary frequently portrayed as inept or callous, if not outright hostile to ordinary citizens. The Navy brass aren’t depicted that way in The Ghazi Attack. The admiral and his staff take a wide view of the conflict that seeks to minimize civilian casualties by avoiding war, if possible.

Captain Singh is cut from the same cloth as many Bollywood heroes: a man of action whose inherent righteousness empowers him to define morality as it suits him. He sees his only job as killing the enemy — the enemy being anyone in a Pakistani military uniform.

Singh’s sense of purpose stems from personal revenge, not any virtuous higher calling. He’s not fundamentally at odds with his military superiors — he just sees them as overly cautious — but his vendetta against Pakistan compels him to ignore the chain of command. Anyone harmed in his pursuit is collateral damage.

Verma’s presence serves not only as a check on Singh’s actions but provides an alternative moral point-of-view. Verma risks his own life to rescue two refugees from the wreckage of a merchant vessel sunk by the Ghazi: a little girl and a doctor named Ananya (Taapsee Pannu).

As debutant director Sankalp Reddy’s film progresses, Singh’s “shoot first” morality is unexpectedly endorsed as the preferred code of conduct, at least in terms of dealings between India and Pakistan. Singh is not only willing to risk the lives of the soldiers under his command in order to sink the Ghazi, he doesn’t care what happens as a result of his actions: not to himself, and not to the hundreds of thousands of civilians who would be endangered in the event of all-out war.

Things get downright silly when Indian patriotism is weaponized. The captain of the Pakistani sub (played by Rahul Singh) is driven into a blind rage just by hearing the Indian National Anthem.

Despite the movie’s questionable moral compass, The Ghazi Attack is enjoyable, thanks to compelling performances by Menon and Daggubati. Atul Kulkarni also deserves kudos as Executive Officer Devraj, a man whose personal views have more in common with those of Verma, but who trusts Singh enough to follow his dangerous orders. Pannu is wasted as a token female character who doesn’t even get to use her medical expertise when a pivotal emergency cries out for a doctor’s assistance.

It’s especially fascinating to see the kind of technology that powered Indian Naval submarines in the early 1970s. Maneuvers are executed by turning wheels and opening valves, which all looks ancient by contemporary post-digital standards (even though military submarine technology was already more than half-a-century old by the time of the events in the film). It’s a poignant reminder of the uniquely challenging conditions under which sailors wage war.

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Bollywood Box Office: June 16-18, 2017

The bad news keeps piling up for Raabta. After a disastrous opening weekend in North America, Raabta‘s business fell by 90% in its second weekend of release. From June 16-18, 2017, the reincarnation drama took in just $7,732 from eighteen theaters — a per theater average of $430. Raabta‘s total stands at $116, 328. It’s the only Bollywood movie this year to open in more than 80 theaters in North America but fail to earn $200,000 over the course of its run.

The rest of the Hindi films still showing in the U.S. and Canada fared as follows:

  • Hindi Medium: Week 5; $24,626 from twelve theaters; $2,052 average; $757,549 total
  • Baahubali 2: Week 8; $15,185 from fourteen theaters; $1,085 average; $20,780,017 total
  • Sachin — A Billion Dreams: Week 4; $3,251 from five theaters; $650 average; $607,038 total
  • Sarkar 3: Week 6; $222 from one theater; $244,826 total
  • Hanuman Da’ Damdaar: Week 3; $90 from one theater; $358 total
  • Dobaara — See Your Evil: Week 3; $65 from one theater; $11,002 total

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama