Streaming Video News: January 21, 2022

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s additions of the North American Desi diaspora films Definition Please and Donkeyhead and yesterday’s streaming debut of the Telugu movie Shyam Singha Roy.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with this week’s premiere of the Hindi anthology series Unpaused: Naya Safar, starring Saqib Saleem. Other recently added 2021 releases include Jhimma (Marathi) and Shava Ni Girdhari Lal (Punjabi).

Lastly, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with today’s OTT debut of the 2021 Telugu film Akhanda. The Hindi romance Tadap comes to Hulu on January 28.

The first new Hindi films of 2022 are out on streaming. 36 Farmhouse — starring Sanjay Mishra and Vijay Raaz — premiered on Zee5 today, while ShemarooMe released the drama Sorry Day last week.

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Streaming Video News: January 14, 2022

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s debut of the new Hindi crime series Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein (“These Black Black Eyes“). A bunch of Indian and Pakistani titles expire in the next few weeks, including:

If you missed any of the Indian content added to Netflix in December, check out my monthly roundup for What’s on Netflix.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with today’s premiere of the Hindi Hotstar Special medical drama series Human (also available in Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu).

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the Tamil series Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa… and the Hindi version of Pushpa: The Rise. Other recent additions include the 2014 movies Main Tera Hero (which was decent) and Shaadi Ke Side Effects (which was not).

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Streaming Video News: December 23, 2021

Christmas 2021 might be one of the busiest periods on streaming video ever, with a mix of new original content and OTT debuts of theatrical releases. Satyameva Jayate 2 — which released in theaters on November 25 — was first out of the gate, dropping on Amazon Prime in the afternoon on December 22.

This afternoon saw the release of two more titles: the OTT debut of Salman Khan’s Antim: The Final Truth on Zee5 and the worldwide launch of the Bollywood romance Atrangi Re — starring Sara Ali Khan, Dhanush, and Akshay Kumar — on Hulu (new home for Hotstar content in the US).

Finally, the new Malayalam superhero flick Minnal Murali premieres on Netflix in the early hours of December 24.

And those are just the Indian movies releasing in time for Christmas. Other December 24 streaming releases that I’m looking forward to include the new Netflix premieres Don’t Look Up and The Silent Sea and the OTT debut of Encanto on Disney+.

If you plan to use the holiday break to catch up on movies you missed this year, Zee5 made a helpful page just for their 2021 releases. You can also check my Bollywood Movies on Netflix, Bollywood Movies on Amazon Prime, and Bollywood Movies on Hulu pages and use the Command-F/Ctrl-F keyboard shortcuts to search for “2021.” When I searched “2021,” it returned 113 entries on my Netflix page, 233 entries on my Prime page, and 168 entries on my Hulu page. That’s a lot to catch up on!

If you’re already up-to-date with this year’s biggest Indian releases, check out the massive 2022 Netflix preview I wrote for What’s on Netflix. There’s a lot of good Indian content to look forward to on Netflix next year!

Have a safe and happy holiday! — Kathy

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Streaming Video News: December 17, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premiere of the Original series Decoupled, starring Madhavan and Surveen Chawla. Netflix also added the 2020 Tamil drama Kadaseela Biriyani.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with yesterday’s streaming debut of Bunty Aur Babli 2.

I continue to add titles to my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu. It’ll likely take several more weeks to finish grabbing the data for all of the Hotstar titles in the catalog because Hulu’s interface loads really, really slowly — but progress is being made!

I’m also working on a 2022 preview of Netflix Original movies and series for What’s on Netflix, so stay tuned for that!

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Streaming Video News: December 10, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s debut of the new Hindi thriller series Aranyak, starring Raveena Tandon.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with today’s addition of the Telugu film Maa Oori Polimera and the premiere of Season 2 of Sushmita Sen’s Hotstar Special series Aarya, which is available in Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. If you need a quick recap of the events of Aarya Season 1, Madhuri Dixit Nene was helpful enough to provide one:

Finally, I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with yesterday’s debut of the Marathi horror film Bali. Have a great weekend! — Kathy

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Streaming Video News: November 19, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premier of the Hindi thriller Dhamaka, starring Kartik Aaryan. The latest Little Singham movie — Samundar Ka Sikandar — also dropped on Netflix today. These could be the last two Indian flicks added to Netflix for the rest of November, with Cobalt Blue not scheduled to arrive until December 3.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with yesterday’s trio of new additions: Adbhutham (Telugu), Cash (Hindi), and Pon Manickavel (Tamil). Hulu has been importing older Hotstar content in other languages, and I’ll work on incorporating those titles into the page over the next couple of weeks.

In a surprise announcement yesterday, Disney (parent company of Hulu and Hotstar) announced that Hotstar will officially cease operation in the United States on November 30, 2021. This is a huge acceleration from the “late 2022” date that was originally announced back when Hotstar’s content was split between Hulu and ESPN+ back in September. By now, all Hotstar subscribers should have received an email offer — and several reminder emails — to upgrade to the Disney Bundle in order to maintain access to Hotstar’s content. I’m guessing this pre-ponement means that enough Hotstar subscribers have made the switch that Disney feels comfortable forcing the remaining holdouts to do so as well.

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a few additions in an otherwise quiet week. Next week will be busier, with the debuts of the Telugu sequel Drushyam 2 on November 25 and the Hindi horror film Chhorii on the 26th.

Movie Review: India Sweets and Spices (2021)

India Sweets and Spices poster3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Find tickets for India Sweets and Spices here

A chance meeting with a hot guy in a grocery store leads to shocking family revelations in the delightful American comedy India Sweets and Spices.

Alia Kapur (Sophia Ali) returns home from college for another boring summer at home. Life with her family in their wealthy New Jersey suburb is the same as ever: her younger brother and sister constantly fight, mom Sheila (Manisha Koirala) is obsessed with keeping up appearances, and dad Ranjit (Adil Hussain) is always golfing. Their lives are structured around a rotation of weekly parties thrown by the local Desi elite in order to show off new designer sarees, brag about their children, and judge one another. The movie’s plot is structured around these events, too, with onscreen titles announcing which family party is about to spark the latest drama.

On a trip to the grocery store, Alia meets Varun Dutta (Rish Shah), the handsome son of the new owners of the shop, India Sweets and Spices. Breaking with protocol, Alia invites working class Varun and his family — including his mom Bhairavi (Deepti Gupta) and dad Kamlesh (Kamran Shaikh) — to her family’s house for the weekly party.

Having grown up insulated from from the realities of class distinctions, Alia is surprised when her parents and their friends won’t even feign kindness toward the Duttas — but bigger surprises await. Varun, Alia, and her friend Rahul (Ved Sapru) catch Alia’s dad making out with Rahul’s mom. And it turns out Bhairavi is an old college friend of Sheila’s, though Sheila tries to downplay the relationship. Alia’s only ever considered her parents as “her parents.” Who are they really?

Writer-director Geeta Malik is excellent at world building, populating the posh suburb of Ruby Hill with well-defined characters. Alia is a product of her environment, and her struggle as a young adult to figure out who she’s supposed to be plays out within that context. Should Alia have been shocked that the Duttas were ostracized by the wealthy doctors and engineers her parents hobnob with? Probably not, but hers is a world where scrutiny stops at surface level.

For example, Alia is impressed by the number of books Varun has in his room. When he points out that her house has a look of books, too, she says that they aren’t even real. They’re just a color coordinated set of Swedish novels with uncut pages meant to match the decor. Later, Alia points out the same set of Swedish books on the shelves in Rahul’s house, and Rahul is stunned to learn that they’re fake. He’d never even looked at them.

Even though Alia’s younger siblings don’t feature prominently in the story, they help establish a world that is bigger than just Alia, her parents, and the guy she likes. Same for childhood friends like Rahul and Neha (Anita Kalathara). The rapport between Neha and Alia is especially charming.

India Sweets and Spices is a great showcase for Ali, who has mostly worked in TV to this point (including multiple seasons of Grey’s Anatomy). She’s poised for a major profile boost when she plays the love interest to Tom Holland’s character in the long-awaited adventure movie Uncharted, which releases next year.

Hussain and Koirala are terrific as Alia’s parents, though that’s no surprise. Koirala puts a funny spin on an item number, as Sheila saunters into a room holding a plate of samosas, accompanied by the party anthem “Sheila Ki Jawani.” There are other amusing uses of popular Bollywood tunes and fun glimpses of movies as characters flip channels on the TV.

India Sweets and Spices is really well made. It’ll be fun to see what Geeta Malik does next.

Links

  • India Sweets and Spices at IMDb

Streaming Video News: November 5, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premier of the new Hindi romcom Meenakshi Sundareshwar and the addition of the Tamil film Doctor, which is also available in Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu. The 2021 Tamil movie Mughizh lands on Netflix November 6.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with this week’s addition of the Telugu film Gully Rowdy and the Tamil flick MGR Magan (also available in Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu).

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime as well, with the debuts of the new Hindi series Akkad Bakkad Rafu Chakkar (also in 4K UHD) and the courtroom drama Jai Bhim, which is available in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada & Malayalam.

Although Mumbai theaters have officially been open for a couple of weeks, Bollywood’s return to cinemas starts today with the release of Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi. So when can we expect it and other theatrical releases to make their way to streaming services? While the theatrical exclusivity window used to be eight weeks, reports have many upcoming titles coming to streaming after just four weeks — an acknowledgement that a large portion of the audience is still uncomfortable attending showings in theaters. That would see Sooryavanshi coming to Netflix in early December. I list movies’ streaming partners on my Upcoming Bollywood Releases page, so check it to see where films are heading after their theatrical runs wind down.

Happy Diwali! — Kathy

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Movie Review: Dybbuk (2021)

1 Star (out of 4)

Watch Dybbuk on Amazon Prime

There’s a temptation to look for symbolism or thematic parallels in Dybbuk. Don’t bother.

Writer-director Jay K — who also wrote and directed Ezra, the Malayalam film on which Dybbuk is based — introduces potential themes and subplots that should be relevant but ultimately are not. As I describe the plot, I’ll put an asterisk (*) next to each theme that goes nowhere.

Married couple Sam (Emraan Hashmi) and Mahi (Nikita Dutta) are moving from Mumbai to Mauritius for Sam’s new job. Mahi worries about leaving her support system*, but Sam assures her she’ll be fine. Besides, her parents have never accepted their marriage since she’s Hindu and he’s Christian*.

They arrive at their colonial-era mansion in Mauritius, which comes complete with a suspicious maid* and an attic full of creepy junk*. Sam gets busy at his new job trying to turn Mauritius into a dumping ground for European nuclear waste*. His uncle, Father Gabriel (Denzil Smith), calls to ask how Mahi is coping with the move, especially after her recent miscarriage*.

Mahi shops at an antique store, which looks surprisingly tidy for a place that was the scene of a violent murder of possibly supernatural origins days earlier. She buys an obviously cursed box — part of a collection belonging to a deceased Jewish scholar — takes it home and opens it. Trouble ensues.

The symbolism of opening the box could have paralleled any of the dead-end plot points highlighted above in order to explore a particular theme: commonalities across faiths in times of spiritual crisis; the danger of putting work before personal relationships; how partners respond differently to a miscarriage; the threat of environmental catastrophe; continuing efforts by wealthy countries to exploit their former colonies (perhaps with the mansion being itself a cursed symbol of colonial oppression); etc.

Dybbuk isn’t about any of that. It’s just about a mean ghost. The rules governing how the ghost operates are flexible and dependent upon bits of information dropped into the story without setup. When asked why Sam and Mahi are so unfortunate as to be the ghost’s victims, Father Gabriel says, “There’s no logical explanations for these things.”

If Sam and Mahi were a happy couple, Father Gabriel’s explanation might be fine. But Jay K introduces these points of potential conflict to give the impression that there’s more to the story than just supernatural hijinks, when there isn’t.

For Dybbuk to have any depth or subtext, characters would have to have meaningful conversations with one another about more than just the mechanics of exorcising a ghost. After Mahi becomes pregnant again, she and Sam don’t talk about her feelings or fears given her past miscarriage. If they aren’t going to discuss the specific emotional trauma that comes from miscarriage, why make it a plot point?

Emotional depth isn’t possible in a story where Mahi is hardly a character in her own right. She exists to trigger the supernatural crisis and to give Sam someone to worry about. With a better script (and better direction of the mostly expressionless actors), Dybbuk could have been about something. Shame that it isn’t.

Links

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Streaming Video News: October 29, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the debut of Emraan Hashmi’s latest horror movie Dybbuk (also available in 4K UHD), a remake of the Malayalam movie Ezra. Other recent Amazon Prime debuts include Erida (Malayalam) and the Tamil movies Cinderella and Kodiyil Oruvan.

Bollywood Hungama reports that Amazon acquired the rights to stream four upcoming movies from Yash Raj Films — Bunty aur Babli 2, Prithviraj, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, and Shamshera — on Prime four weeks after their theatrical release.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premier of the Hindi series Call My Agent Bollywood, the Indian version of the French series Call My Agent!.

We’re still waiting for Hulu to post the new Kriti Sanon-Rajkummar Rao Hum Do Hamare Do, which debuted on Disney+ Hotstar in India earlier today. I’m not sure why Hulu insists on delaying its Hotstar premiers until evening in the US, but it is what it is. [Update: Hum Do Hamare Do is now available.]

While updating my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with some newly added TV series, I timed how long it takes to scroll to the bottom of Hulu’s complete A-Z list of Hotstar content. Because it only loads 15 titles at a time, scrolling all the way to the last title on the list took a full 1 minute and 24 seconds! You can get to the bottom of my Hulu list in 5 seconds. Just sayin’.

Happy Halloween! — Kathy

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]