Author Archives: Kathy

Bollywood Box Office: September 15-17, 2017

Simran bested Lucknow Central in the battle for North America box office supremacy for the weekend of September 15-17, 2017, earning $226,853 from 98 theaters ($2,315 average). Lucknow Central brought in a more modest $92,392 from 61 theaters ($1,515 average).

Last weekend‘s new releases failed to sustain much interest, getting beaten by a number of older films. Here’s how the other seven Hindi movies still showing in North America stacked up:

  • Shubh Mangal Saavdhan: Week 3; $75,080 from 80 theaters; $939 average; $629,427 total
  • Baadshaho: Week 3; $17,158 from 39 theaters; $440 average; $493,572 total
  • Bareilly Ki Barfi: Week 5; $16,586 from nine theaters; $1,843 average; $544,703 total
  • Poster Boys: Week 2; $15,175 from 67 theaters; $226 average; $87,265 total
  • Toilet — Ek Prem Katha: Week 6; $6,792 from 11 theaters; $617 average; $1,866,731 total
  • Lipstick Under My Burkha: Week 2; $4,578 from five theaters; $916 average; $39,855 total
  • Daddy: Week 2; $1,664 from eight theaters; $208 average; $31,045 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

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Movie Review: Simran (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Simran is unfairly stacked against its main character, putting her in a no-win situation while expecting her to sustain the film’s humorous tone.

Kangana Ranaut plays Praful Patel, a housekeeper at an Atlanta hotel. She lives with shop-owner parents, and she’s been saving money for seven years in order to buy her own condominium. Few Bollywood films feature working-class Indian-Americans, so it’s gratifying to see such characters onscreen for a change.

On a bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas with her cousin Amber (Aneesha Joshi), Praful gets lucky playing Baccarat, winning enough to indulge in some high-end shopping and dining. Her second round doesn’t go as well, forcing Praful to keep gambling in order to try to win her money back. She mistakes a cash infusion from loan shark Mr. Bugs (Jason Louder) for a gift, endangering not just her future plans but her very life.

The tone of Simran is generally comical, especially as Praful explores Vegas before and after her big win. As in Queen, Ranaut is delightful to watch as a fish-out-of-water, goofy and awestruck. The difference between her character in Queen and Praful is that Praful has greater self-confidence (though it’s not always warranted). When it comes to romance, she says: “Having boyfriends isn’t a character flaw. Having boyfriends is a talent.”

In the grand tradition of Bollywood movie parents, Praful’s folks’ only desire is for her to get married — again. Her first marriage didn’t work out, and she’s now happily independent. While her parents’ latest target — MBA student Sameer (Talvar‘s Sohum Shah) — is a nice guy, Praful isn’t keen to settle down.

The rift between Praful and her parents goes beyond her unwillingness to wed. It’s so deep that it undermines the whole tone of the film. There isn’t a single moment of affection between Praful and her domineering father. He says that he wishes he never brought her to America from Gujarat, castigating Praful for being worthless in the same breath that he asks her for money to pay the electric bill. Praful’s mother is of no help.

When Praful’s efforts to pay off Mr. Bugs get her into further trouble, there’s no one she can turn to. Her parents don’t like her. Sameer doesn’t believe her. Praful’s housekeeping co-workers help in what limited ways they can, but they’re just as broke as she is. Cousin Amber is rich, but for some reason she disappears in the second half of the film. Praful is utterly alone.

From a narrative standpoint, it’s unfair to ask Praful — the film’s only multi-dimensional character — to supply all the laughs when the audience can see how hopeless her situation is. Ranaut’s compelling performance fosters so much empathy for Praful that it becomes impossible to laugh at her plight. As Simran progresses, it becomes depressing and surprisingly violent. It’s as though director Hansal Mehta failed to consider how the audience would feel while watching the movie. I’m not sure if Simran is the story he thought he was telling.

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Streaming Video News: September 15, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with two new additions to the catalog. The 2017 Bengali film Aroni Takhon and the 2016 Pakistani movie Janaan are now available for streaming. Apparently, I missed the expiration of Hate Story 2, but fear not: Hate Story and Hate Story 3 are still available. Just a reminder that Bombay Velvet and Finding Fanny depart on September 20. For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Opening September 15: Simran and Lucknow Central

Two more Hindi films join the already crowded Chicago theatrical market on September 15, 2017. Kangana Ranaut’s Simran — which was filmed in Atlanta — gets the wider release.

Simran 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, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 6 min.

Also new this weekend is the prison break thriller Lucknow Central, starring Farhan Akhtar.

Lucknow Central opens Friday at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 13 min.

Baadshaho gets a third weekend at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17. Poster Boys gets a second week at the South Barrington 24 and MovieMax, which also holds over Daddy. Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Bareilly Ki Barfi carry over at the Cantera 17 and South Barrington 24, which also holds over Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.

Viceroy’s House makes its suburban debut on Friday at the Glen Art Theatre in Glen Ellyn.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: September 8-10, 2017

September 8-10, 2017 was a slow weekend for all three newly released Hindi films in North America. According to Rentrak figures supplied to Bollywood Hungama, Poster Boys made the biggest impact here, earning $50,282 from 68 theaters ($739 average). Distributor Sony/Columbia reported figures of $51,289 from 50 theaters ($1,026 average) to Box Office Mojo, and I’m inclined to trust Mojo’s theater count. Poster Boys fared best in Canada, earning virtually the same amount — $25,097 versus $25,203 in the United States — from 18 theaters, versus 32 theaters in the US. Canadian theaters averaged earnings of $1,393, while US theaters averaged $788.

The weekend’s two other new films only opened in the US. Lipstick Under My Burkha took in $21,793 from 21 theaters ($1,038 average). Daddy earned $19,652 from 50 theaters ($393 average), though I’m dubious about that high theater count.

Shubh Mangal Saavdhan performed the best of all the Hindi films showing in North America, taking in $128,442 from 80 theaters ($1,605 average) in its second weekend of release, according to Box Office Mojo. Its 49% holdover is fifth best for the year, right behind that of Bareilly Ki Barfi, another romantic comedy starring Ayushmann Khurrana. Shubh Mangal Saavdhan‘s total after two weekends stands at $511,875.

That’s better than the $451,068 that Baadshaho has earned in its two weekends of release. The heist movie saw its business drop by about 80%, earning $55,192 from 71 theaters ($777 average) over the weekend, according to Bollywood Hungama.

Other Hindi movies showing in North America:

  • Bareilly Ki Barfi: Week 4; $26,518 from 21 theaters; $1,263 average; $518,086 total
  • Toilet — Ek Prem Katha: Week 5; $23,360 from 27 theaters; $865 average; $1,848,096 total
  • A Gentleman: Week 3; $5,918 from 15 theaters; $395 average; $406,345 total
  • Mubarakan: Week 7; $552 from one theater; $736,862 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Streaming Video News: September 11, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Heera with an exciting new addition to the catalog. Meri Pyaari Bindu — the first of actor Ayushmann Khurrana’s three romcoms to release this year — is now available for streaming. I really enjoyed the way the film examines perspectives in romantic relationships.

I further updated my Heera list with some titles that I only just discovered were available on the service, thanks to Amazon’s atrocious methods of labeling and categorizing movies. Those films are: Amal, Dil Chahta Hai (★★★★), Kshay, Lakshya, Ready (★★½), and Yuva (★★★★).

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with some recently added animated children’s films, including Mighty Raju Rio Calling and seven titles in the Krish Trish and Baltiboy series. For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: September 7, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a bunch of new additions to the catalog. In addition to the documentaries The Love Commandos and Santa Shakti, the following fiction films are now available for streaming: Bollywood Hero, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, Partu (Marathi), Poriyaalan (Tamil), and Velaiilla Pattadhari (Tamil).

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix to include some recent additions, most of which are films from the 1970s and ’80s. Along with the Punjabi movie Chadi Jawani Budhe Nu and the Bengali film Lorai: Play to Live, the newly added Bollywood titles are: Aakhri Adaalat, Ek Jaan Hain Hum, Khoon Khoon, Manoranjan, Murjim, Sohni Mahiwal, and Teesri Aankh.