Author Archives: Kathy

Streaming Video News: June 21, 2019

Vacation’s over! I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a bunch of new additions in the last two weeks. Besides lots of cartoons for kids, a trio of 2019 releases were just added: the Marathi film Luckee and the Hindi movies Rakkhosh and Luka Chuppi. Also new are the Netflix original series Leila and last year’s delighfully clever horror comedy Stree.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with more than 50 Indian titles added in the last two weeks. 2019 releases added include the Amazon original series Mind the Malhotras, Anu Menon’s standup comedy special Wonder Menon, and the following films:

Thanks to everyone who wished me well during my time off. It was great to spend time with my nieces and nephew. Have a great weekend! — Kathy


Streaming Video News: June 6, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of nineteen Indian and Desi films in the last three days, including four 2019 releases:

While there are no new additions to my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix, the original Hindi series Leila — a futuristic dystopian show starring Huma Qureshi, Siddharth, and Rahul Khanna — debuts June 14, and you can add it to your queue now by following this link. The series trailer is intriguing and grim.

I’m on vacation for the next couple of weeks, and I won’t be updating the site. I will still be on Twitter, however, so if anything cool becomes available for streaming, I’ll mention it there. You can follow me on Twitter at @kathyfgibson. Talk to you soon! — Kathy

Opening June 5: Bharat

Salman Khan’s annual Eid release for 2019 is Bharat. The history-spanning drama — based on the Korean film Ode to My Father — hits Chicago theaters on June 5 and co-stars Katrina Kaif.

Bharat opens on Wednesday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, Regal Round Lake Beach in Round Lake Beach, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and AMC Crestwood 18 in Crestwood. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Also new on Wednesday are the Urdu films Wrong No. 2 — opening at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera — and Chhalawa, which opens at the South Barrington 24 on Wednesday and Cantera on Thursday.

De De Pyaar De gets a fourth week at the South Barrington 24 and MovieMax, which also holds over India’s Most Wanted.

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

Bollywood Box Office: May 31-June 2, 2019

The weekend of May 31-June 2, 2019, was predictably slow for Bollywood movies in North America because of the impending release of Salman Khan’s Bharat on June 5, but there’s also a real lack of audience interest in the Hindi films currently on offer. Three-week-old De De Pyaar De led the way with $64,458 from 52 theaters ($1,240), according to Bollywood Hungama. With $992,995 in earnings so far, the comedy is on the verge of becoming the tenth Hindi film to earn $1 million in North America this year.

That’s where the good news ends. Both of the films in their second weekend of release failed to average $1,000 in per-theater earnings. PM Narendra Modi took in $12,110 from 16 theaters ($757 average), bringing its total to $109,885. India’s Most Wanted was absolutely tragic, earning $18,111 from 80 theaters — a per-theater average of just $226, according to Box Office Mojo. Even with its large theatrical footprint (having opened on 110 screens), it’s only managed to earn $168,016 here so far.

Photograph is struggling as well. In its third weekend, it earned $44,234 from 81 theaters ($546 average), bringing its total to $302,463. That’s almost exactly what director Ritesh Batra’s previous film The Lunchbox had earned at the end of its third weekend back in 2014: $306,347. However, The Lunchbox was only showing in 18 theaters at the time and was averaging almost $5,000 per screen. The Lunchbox didn’t hit its peak theater count (165) until Week 9, and its per-theater average didn’t fall below $1,000 until Week 15. The Lunchbox finished its run with $4.2 million in earnings, but it looks like Photograph might top out at about 10% of that.

Student of the Year 2 closed out its fourth weekend with $751 from three theaters, bringing its total to $738,134.

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Streaming Video News: June 3, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a couple of new additions to start the month of June. The 2019 Marathi film Krutant is now available for streaming, as is the 2017 multilingual anthology movie III Smoking Barrels.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with eleven Indian films added in the last three days, including the 2019 releases Nuvvu Thopu Raa (Telugu) and Vellai Pookal (Tamil).

For everything else new on Netflix or Prime — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: May 31, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the premiere of the Hindi film Chopsticks, starring Karwaan‘s Mithila Parkar as a woman who enlists the help of a conman (Abhay Deol) to find her stolen car. Yesterday, Netflix added the March Hindi release Mere Pyare Prime Minister to its streaming catalog.

Three Indian titles expire tomorrow from the Netflix catalog: Delhi in a Day, Firaaq, and Makkhi.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of Indian films added in the last week. Most notable among them is the 2019 Hindi romance Notebook, produced by Salman Khan Films. Other 2019 films added in the last week include:

For everything else new on Amazon Prime and Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Junglee is now on Hotstar. I really enjoyed this family-friendly martial arts flick. It disappeared from theaters quickly this spring, so now’s a great time to catch up with it on streaming.

In Theaters: May 31, 2019

With Salman Khan’s Bharat releasing in the middle of next week, no new Hindi films open in the Chicago area on Friday, May 31, 2019. After a lousy first weekend in North America, India’s Most Wanted carries over at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera in Warrenville.

Last weekend’s other new release — PM Narendra Modi — sticks around at the South Barrington 24, which hangs on to Student of the Year 2 as well and gets Photograph on Friday.

De De Pyaar De carries over for a third week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, and AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont.

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

Bollywood Box Office: May 24-26, 2019

May 24-26, 2019, was a bad weekend for Bollywood films in North America, both in terms of performance and available information. None of the popular resources reported box office data for either De De Pyaar De or Student of the Year 2.

The three Hindi films for which info exists all did poorly. India’s Most Wanted opened in 110 theaters and earned just $98,322 ($894 average), according to Box Office Mojo. The other new release — PM Narendra Modi — earned $52,643 from 49 theaters ($1,074 average), per Bollywood Hungama. And Photograph‘s second-weekend expansion into 123 theaters resulted in $130,750 in earnings ($1,063 average), bringing the drama’s total to $180,560. Definitely a Memorial Day weekend to forget.

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, and Box Office Mojo

Movie Review: Student of the Year 2 (2019)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

With an opening scene that features hundreds of students celebrating the start of an intercollegiate competition by chanting, “Student! Student!”, it’s clear that Student of the Year 2 (“SOTY2” henceforth) is not meant to be intellectually challenging. Nevertheless, the romantic comedy-drama sequel is plenty of fun, with some surprisingly rich character development.

Though not a direct sequel to 2012’s Student of the Year, SOTY2 is made in the same narrative mold as the first: a low-income university student competes against his well-heeled contemporaries for respect and the love of a pretty girl. While the original SOTY launched the careers of three newcomers who would become big stars — Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, and Sidharth Malhotra — SOTY2 is star Tiger Shroff’s sixth leading role.

This time Shroff plays Rohan, a working class student at the underfunded Pishorilal Chamandas College where he excels at the sport kabaddi. His wealthy childhood sweetheart Mridula (Tara Sutaria) attends hoity-toity St. Teresa’s College. Without telling Mridula about his plan, Rohan gets an athletic scholarship and transfers to St. Teresa’s to be closer to her.

Rohan is a fish out of water at his new school, where everyone wears designer clothes and drives sports cars. He’s no longer the best athlete, with that distinction belonging to Manav (Aditya Seal), the reigning intercollegiate Student of the Year titleholder. Rohan makes an enemy of Manav’s snobby, vindictive sister Shreya (Ananya Panday, daughter of actor Chunky Pandey). Even Mridula — who goes by “Mia” on campus — acts less than thrilled to see poor Rohan on her fancy turf.

While Rohan could find a place at St. Teresa’s as one of Manav’s toadies, that won’t impress Mridula. What starts out as a good-natured rivalry between the two campus studs changes when Manav realizes Rohan’s ambitions, and Manav reminds Rohan of the hierarchy in the harshest way possible. But Rohan finds an unexpected ally in Shreya, who’s tired of living in her brother’s shadow. Maybe Rohan’s been trying to impress the wrong woman.

Though Shroff is typically drawn to action movies, he’s more charming in a lighter role like this that requires some self-awareness. Shroff nicely depicts Rohan’s struggle to fit in, as well as his realization that he should’ve been kinder to his peers back when he was Big Man on Campus at his old college.

Shreya’s character development is even more impressive than Rohan’s. She evolves from spoiled and aloof to generous and kind, as Rohan learns more about her troubled home life, while still keeping the core of her character intact. Her instinct to respond to slights with cattiness never changes, but she begins to curb her impulsiveness. One would never guess that this is Panday’s first feature role, she’s that good.

This is also Sutaria’s first feature role, having started her career in television. She doesn’t quite match the charisma of Shroff or Panday, but her character isn’t as deep as either of theirs. Mridula is written as shallow and fickle, which doesn’t leave Sutaria much room to maneuver.

Manav is also one-note — a rich bully from start to finish. Seal has to deliver dopey lines with a straight face, such as the multiple times Manav calls Rohan “loser of the year.” On the positive side, Seal and Sutaria are the best dancers of the lead quartet.

The film’s dance numbers are fun and impressive in scale, although they do have some weird elements. Will Smith strolls across the stage during one song for absolutely no reason. A couple of numbers feature a bunch of white women in cheerleader outfits, which stands out because there aren’t any non-Indian male students at St. Teresa. Also, one of my friends was crushed to discover that “Mumbai Dilli Di Kudiyaan” was just released for promotional purposes and wasn’t actually in the movie.

SOTY2 also has a lot of kabaddi scenes, which are sort of exciting, but I didn’t come out of the film understanding anything more about the rules than I did going in. (Although I was delighted to learn that you’re allowed to kick people in kabaddi.) There are also some unrealistic track and field sequences that have slow-motion shots of Manav turning to stare at Rohan in the middle of a race and looking aghast. As the leadoff runner for Westmont High School’s state-qualifying 800-meter medley relay team in 1994, I can assure you that there isn’t time for such theatrics during a sprint.

Then again, the whole premise of the Student of the Year competition is ridiculous to begin with. It’s only available to male students, there’s no academic component, and it only features two events — one of which is a team sport. Points are accrued by school, not by individual, yet the final award is given to a single participant. It’s pretty dumb if you think about it, so better to just enjoy Student of the Year 2 for its lavish dance numbers and Ananya Panday’s promising debut.


Streaming Video News: May 24, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of the 2019 biographical drama Thackeray, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Thackeray is available in both Hindi and Marathi, but there is only one catalog entry for the film, so the language version must be selected under the “Episodes” tag. It’s weird.

Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai and Koi… Mil Gaya expire from Netflix on May 30.