Streaming Video News: April 22, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the streaming video debut of Rajinikanth’s 2.0 in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Several recent-ish Hindi films were added to Prime over the weekend, including Ankur Arora Murder Case, Chudail Story, Indu Sarkar, Maatr, and Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai, which I named my worst Bollywood movie of 2017 because it’s a total mess. Like, WTH is this craziness?!?


Streaming Video News: April 19, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of a new straight-to-streaming Hindi film — Music Teacher, starring Manav Kaul, Amrita Bagchi, and Divya Dutta.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a couple dozen Indian films added in the last few days, including the 2019 releases Boomerang (Tamil) and Sakala Kala Vallabhudu (Telugu) and the disappointing 2015 comedy Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon. India’s submission to this year’s Oscars — Village Rockstars — is also now available in its Hindi-dubbed form.

Opening April 17: Kalank

The Karan Johar-produced period drama Kalank hits Chicago area theaters on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. The stellar cast — which includes Madhuri Dixit, Sonakshi Sinha, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Aditya Roy Kapur, and Sanjay Dutt — is directed by 2 States helmer Abhishek Varman.

Kalank opens Wednesday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, Regal Round Lake Beach 18 in Round Lake Beach, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera 17 in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 46 min.

MovieMax carries over Kesari and The Tashkent Files.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Movie Review: Badla (2019)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

There’s a lot to like in Badla, but I’m not sure how much any of it matters, since the film’s central mystery is so obvious. I’m no mystery buff, but I sussed things out in the first fifteen minutes.

Wealthy London CEO Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) stands accused of murdering her lover Arjun (Tony Luke) after she wakes up in a hotel room next to his dead body and a pile of cash. She insists that an unknown blackmailer lured them to the hotel, and that the blackmailer knocked her out before killing Arjun.

With Naina stuck in her apartment under house arrest, renowned lawyer Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) arrives to prepare her for trial. Naina’s main attorney, Jimmy (Manav Kaul) — who’s off tracking down a potential witness — says that Badal is the best in the business, and Badal himself assures Naina that he wants her case to be his final victory before retirement.

Naina agrees to tell Badal the whole truth, but she’s surprised when he brings up the case of a missing young man. Though she obfuscates at first, Badal’s hunch is right — there is a connection between the missing man and her dead boyfriend.

Though the entire present-day portion of the story takes place in Naina’s apartment, we see relevant events of the past through flashbacks. Badal and Naina suggest differing interpretations of what happened, and Pannu and Luke alter their characters depending on the version of the story being told. Bachchan’s performance is more limited because his character only interacts with Naina and only within her apartment. And his character’s approach to his client seems overly adversarial.

Badla is based on the 2016 Spanish thriller The Invisible Guest, and it makes sense that Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh would be drawn to its story. Pannu’s role was originally written for a man, and the character’s gender was changed at her insistence. That allowed Ghosh to make a second film about a woman from London whose guile and tenacity are underestimated by the men around her, involved in a crime that’s more complicated than it first seems.

Where Badla falls short of Kahaani‘s success is in the film’s the central mystery and the way information is parceled out. Even as Kahaani‘s heroine Vidya — a pregnant woman played by Vidya Balan — finds new details about her husband’s disappearance, the audience can never be completely sure what’s going on. She’s an unconventional lead for this type of movie, so we don’t have enough information or points of reference to figure things out far in advance.

Badla is more conventional, despite its someone novel technique of keeping Naina and Badal in her apartment and reenacting flashbacks of dubious veracity. Arjun’s murder is a locked-room mystery, so the audience knows to look for clues and discrepancies in the story as presented. The film also shows early on the incident that stars the chain of events ending in Arjun’s murder, so we know to be suspicious of the story we’re being told from that point on.

As I said above, I’m not even a mystery aficionado, but I wrote in my notes early into the film what I suspected was the answer to Badla’s riddle. From that point on, it was just a matter of the film finally proving my guess correct. The story never really give me a reason to doubt my assumption.

Badla’s short runtime of 118 minutes meant my vindication came quickly, but it was an unsuspenseful two hours. Thankfully, the performances are pretty entertaining, both by Pannu and Luke as well as Amrita Singh, who plays the missing man’s mother. Also, Amaal Mallik’s songs “Kyun Rabba” and “Tum Na Aaye” are fantastic. Badla isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours, it’s just a little disappointing as a mystery.


Streaming Video News: April 15, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a blockbuster new addition. Gully Boy is now available for streaming! It’s yet another terrific movie from filmmaker Zoya Akhtar, and a phenomenal example of character creation. Another 2019 release new to Prime is the Kannada film Yajamana.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of the 2018 Bengali film Rainbow Jelly, a bunch of older Hindi flicks — Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Jhankaar Beats, Mumbai Matinee, and Shabd — and the English movie Bollywood Calling, starring Om Puri. For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Bollywood Box Office: April 12-14, 2019

The North American box office was in a holding pattern during the weekend of April 12-14, 2019, in anticipation of the April 17 release of the guaranteed blockbuster Kalank. The only new Hindi film to open in North America on the 12th was The Tashkent Files, which made just $15,368 from 14 theaters ($1,098 average), according to Bollywood Hungama.

Other Bollywood titles fared little better over the sleepy weekend:

  • Romeo Akbar Walter: Week 2; $25,698 from 36 theaters; $714 average; $221,648 total
  • Kesari: Week 4; $19,650 from 16 theaters; $1,228 average; $1,862,580 total
  • Badla: Week 6; $8,286 from eight theaters; $1,036 average; $1,859,793 total
  • Gully Boy: Week 9; $422 from one theater; $5,414,386 total

Meanwhile, Andhadhun is burning up the Chinese box office to the tune of $30 million in two weeks! And I thought the $1.3 million it earned here in eleven weeks was impressive!

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Opening April 12: The Tashkent Files

With PM Narendra Modi pulled from the schedule at the last minute over concerns for the potential to influence Indian elections, the only new Hindi film opening in Chicago area theaters on April 12, 2019, is The Tashkent Files — a thriller about the death of former Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri starring Naseeruddin Shah and Mithun Chakraborty.

The Tashkent Files opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington.

Tickets are already on sale at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge for the Wednesday, April 17 release Kalank.

Romeo Akbar Walter gets a second week at all three of the above theaters. MovieMax also holds over Kesari.

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

Streaming Video News: April 5, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of Rajinikanth’s January release Petta, as well as the 2018 Hindi horror flick Lupt. Also new in the last few days is the 2019 drama Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, which made over $1 million in North America but only lasted four weeks in theaters. It’s a great opportunity for those of us who missed out to finally catch up.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with almost four dozen Indian films added in the last four days. Five 2019 releases were added — Chambal (Kannada), Crazy Crazy Feeling (Telugu), Spot (Tamil), Thadam (Tamil), and Vinara Sodara Veera Kumara (Telugu) — along with a second season of the series Laakhon Mein Ek, now available in Tamil and Telugu in addition to the original Hindi (just choose your desired season in the drop-down menu). Also new on Prime is the 2016 Bollywood romance Mirzya, which is visually stunning and has great music (and is also on Netflix).

My wonderful father-in-law Ron died this week, so I’m taking several days off to be with family. I’ll return next week after his memorial. — Kathy

Bollywood Box Office: March 29-31, 2019

Brief North American Bollywood box office update for the weekend of March 29-31, 2019. Here’s why the weekend’s two new releases — Junglee and Notebook — won’t get a second week in many theaters:

  • Junglee: $45,221 from 79 theaters; $572 average
  • Notebook: $18,877 from 39 theaters; $484 average

My friend who works at my local theater said that, over the weekend, the staff had to tell quite a few disappointed customers that, no, they weren’t running a special engagement of the Ryan Gosling film The Notebook.

Other Bollywood movies still in North American theaters:

  • Kesari: Week 2; $323,533 from 154 theaters; $2,101 average; $1,600,643 total
  • Badla: Week 4; $75,736 from 58 theaters; $1,306 average; $1,861,000 total
  • Gully Boy: Week 7; $9,587 from 12 theaters; $799 average; $5,407,188 total
  • Luka Chuppi: Week 5; $2,802 from seven theaters; $400 average; $1,014,967 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Streaming Video News: April 1, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a few additions to start the month of April. The 2019 Hindi thriller 706 — starring Divya Dutta and Atul Kulkarni — is now available for streaming, as is Arshad Warsi’s 2016 comedy The Legend of Michael Mishra. The most intriguing addition is the series Midnight Misadventures with Mallika Dua, in which the comedian cooks with celebrities like Sanya Malhotra, Vicky Kaushal, Huma Qureshi, Rajkummar Rao, and Radhika Apte.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with more than 30 additions since Friday. Newly added 2019 titles include the Telugu film Love Game and the Tamil movie Dev, which is available dubbed in Telugu as well.