Author Archives: Kathy

Streaming Video News: October 19, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with two new additions to the catalog. The 2013 Telugu movie Naa Bangaaru Talli is now available for streaming, which is significant because Netflix only has three other Telugu films (plus the Hindi-dubbed version of Eega). Also new is the 2018 Tamil film Mr. Chandramouli. For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of John Abraham’s August action flick Satyameva Jayate.

A gander through my massive Amazon Watchlist revealed that more than 25% of Prime’s Bengali catalog will expire by October 25. There are a handful of Hindi movies expiring, too, and the some titles depart the service as early as tomorrow. It’s not unusual for movies to disappear from Prime only to return the next day after Amazon negotiates a new contract with the distributors, but if one of the titles on the chopping block is in your Watchlist, best get to it toot sweet, just in case. For the full list of 44 movies on their way out, check the “Expiring Soon” section of my Amazon page, right underneath the “Newly Added” section.

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Opening October 19: Badhaai Ho and Namaste England

Two new Hindi movies release in Chicago area theaters on October 19, 2018. First up is Badhaai Ho, a family comedy about an unexpected pregnancy starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra.

Badhaai Ho opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs 3 min.

Also new this weekend is the Arjun Kapoor-Parineeti Chopra romantic comedy Namaste England, a sequel to 2007’s Namastey London (which starred Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif).

Namaste England opens on Friday in all three of the above theaters. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs 21 min.

All three theaters carry over Andhadhun for a third weekend. (Go see it, BTW.) The South Barrington 24 also holds onto Sui Dhaaga: Made in India, as does the AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. Helicopter Eela is out of local theaters after one week.

Other Indian movies showing in Chicago area theaters this weekend:

Movie Review: Andhadhun (2018)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Neo-noir filmmaker Sriram Raghavan made his best movie yet: the black comedy Andhadhun (“Blindly“).

Ayushmann Khurrana stars as Akash, a talented blind musician living in Pune. He gets a gig as the piano player at trendy restaurant after the owner’s beautiful daughter, Sophie (Radhika Apte), runs into him with her scooter. The job puts Akash in touch with some high rollers, including former film star Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan). Pramod hires Akash to serenade him and his young wife Simi (Tabu) on their anniversary, and things don’t go as planned.

Raghavan’s script — co-written with Yogesh Chandekar, Hemanth Rao, and frequent collaborators Arijit Biswas and Pooja Ladha Surti (who also edited Andhadhun) — rewards fans of crime thrillers with familiar genre nods like femmes fatales and characters who aren’t what they seem. Yet the story veers in unexpected ways, forcing the audience into a giddy series of emotional pivots, from shock to uneasy chuckles to horror to hysterical laughter, all in a matter of seconds. It’s astonishing how well Andhadhun pulls this off.

Khurrana’s filmography is full of nice-guy roles, and the sympathy he inspires serves Akash well early on, before we discover that the pianist has his own secrets. His more complicated character contrasts with that of Sophie, who has the movie’s “sunshine role”, according to Ladha Sutri. A love scene between Akash and Sophie is wonderfully steamy despite its brevity.

Then there’s Tabu. She’s glorious in this, so much fun to watch as the ambitious trophy wife (who is shown at one point reading a book titled Anita: A Trophy Wife). She’s charming and chilling, and also hilarious as the movie’s main source of dark humor.

Raghavan and his co-writers ensure that every supporting character has their own clear motivations, which not only elevates the overall quality of the story, but makes it that much easier to get great performances from the whole cast. Ashwini Kalsekar is a laugh riot as the enthusiastic-but-out-of-the-loop wife of a police officer, played by Manav Vij.

Sound design plays a huge role in Andhadhun, as it has in Raghavan’s previous movies. Here, Raghavan expertly deploys tunes to shock the audience or punctuate a joke. Amit Trivedi’s terrific original songs are interspersed with Bollywood hits from the 1970s (ostensibly from the soundtracks of Pramod Sinha’s films).

Khurrana learned to play the piano well enough that cinematographer K. U. Mohanan could shoot Akash playing in full frame, instead of filming him from the chest up and inserting shots of a real pianist’s hands doing the playing. It’s an example of the cast & crew’s dedication that helps make Andhadhun so darned fun to watch.

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Bollywood Box Office: October 12-14, 2018

Andhadhun just did something incredible. In its second weekend of release, it earned more money than it did in its opening weekend! And on five fewer screens, no less! From October 12-14, 2018, Andhadhun earned $267,719 from 49 theaters in North America ($5,464 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. That’s almost $16,000 more than last weekend.

In the last decade, I found two other Hindi movies that also out-earned their opening weekend in their second weekend in North America, both in 2014 and both with mitigating factors. The Lunchbox had a slow theatrical rollout, starting out in three theaters and finally reaching its peak theater count of 176 in its ninth week of release. Queen — which employed a more traditional release strategy, like Andhadhun — also earned more in its second weekend, but it added eleven theaters to do so. The only other movies to come close — Kahaani and Pink, which held on to 97% and 99% of their opening weekend business in their second weekends, respectively — also added theaters after strong first weekends. For Andhadun to out-earn its opening weekend while actually losing theaters is a really big deal. Its total stands at $702,335.

The weekend’s lone new release, Helicopter Eela, failed to take off, bringing in $47,299 from 70 theaters in the United States and Canada. That’s a per-screen average of just $676.

Bollywood Hungama didn’t post data from the five Canadian theaters showing Sui Dhaaga: Made in India, but the film earned $34,067 from 40 US theaters ($852 average) in its third weekend of release. That means its total is somewhere north of the $1,101,594 we can officially account for.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North America:

  • Loveyatri: Week 2; $8,234 from 15 theaters; $549 average; $116,388 total
  • Stree: Week 7; $278 from two theaters; $139 average; $843,430 total

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Streaming Video News: October 15, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with three new additions to the catalog. One of the year’s biggest box office hits — Sanju — is now available for streaming. The 2017 Bengali movie Meghnadbodh Rohoshyo is also new to the list, as is the TV series Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik, which explores the origins of Indian mythology. For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: October 13, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of the 2018 sports biopic Soorma to the streaming catalog.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with several 2018 theatrical releases. The lone Hindi film among them is Fanney Khan, which was disappointing in spite of its stellar cast. The Marathi movies Me Yetoy…Chhota Pudhari and Take Care Good Night are now available for streaming, as are the Tamil and Telugu versions of the thriller U Turn. (If you want to watch the 2016 Kannada film of the same name on which the new versions are based, find it here on Netflix.)

There are still more titles on the way in October. Sanju is supposedly coming to Netflix this month, and Prime announced that it will add John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate on October 19.

Opening October 12: Helicopter Eela

One new Hindi film opens in Chicago area theaters on October 12, 2018 (and it’s not Tumbbad, unfortunately). Kajol stars in Helicopter Eela, based on the Gujarati play Beta, Kaagdo.

Helicopter Eela opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of

Andhadhun carries over for a second week at all three of the above theaters. MovieMax and the South Barrington 24 also hold onto Loveyatri and Sui Dhaaga: Made in India, which gets a third weekend at and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge as well.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Movie Review: Pataakha (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack on iTunes

Director Vishal Bhardwaj is a master world-builder, designing rich spaces for his characters to inhabit and filling them with evocative music of his own creation. Pataakha (“Firecracker“) is the latest example of Bhardwaj’s formidable skill.

Based on the short story Do Behnein (“Two Sisters“) by Charan Singh Pathik, Pataakha‘s plot is simple. Badki (Radhika Madan) and her younger sister Chhutki (Sanya Malhotra) are constantly at war, each blaming the other for her sorry lot in life. But when they set out to achieve their dreams independently, they discover they need each other more than they thought.

The tale feels like a familiar parable, something one might expect to find in a storybook for children, were it not for all the swearing and fighting. Badki and Chhutki are their small Rajasthani town’s source of entertainment, their curse-filled brawls drawing enthusiastic crowds. Every fight ends with the girls’ father, Bechara Bapu (Vijay Raaz), dragging his daughters home — but not before getting battered in the melee himself.

Adding to Pataakha‘s folkloric feeling is the presence of a trickster character, an itinerant jack-of-all trades named Dipper (Sunil Grover), whose joy in life is instigating fights between the sisters. He snitches on them to each other, and he invents conflict when things are too peaceful. When Badki and Chhutki get boyfriends — Jagan (Namit Das) and Vishnu (Abhishek Duhan), respectively — it gives Dipper more fuel to stoke the fires of war.

Bhardwaj is clearly fond of both the character of Dipper and the actor who plays him. This may be more perception than reality, but it’s almost like Grover’s face is in sharper focus than the other actors’ — and it certainly seems like he gets more closeups. Whether that’s true or not, my attention always gravitated toward Dipper, just to see what he was going to do or how he would react, no matter what other chaos was happening on screen.

For so much attention to be given to a secondary character — as delightful as he is — hints at Pataakha‘s biggest problem: there isn’t enough material to warrant a full-length feature film. Trimming the runtime by thirty minutes would’ve been a start, but Pataakha‘s story would feel most at home as part of a collection of short stories.

It’s by the strength of Bhardwaj’s world-building and the performances he gets from his actors that Pataakha is as enjoyable as it is. Raaz is charming as the girls’ flawed father, who lectures them on the dangers of smoking by showing them the warnings on a half-empty packet of cigarettes he pulls from his own pocket. Madan and Malhotra give it their all in what must have been a fun but exhausting shoot, spending most of their screentime fighting, screaming, and crying as they do. Das and Duhan are solid in their supporting roles.

The movie’s showstopping item number, “Hello Hello,” is another highlight. Written by Bhardwaj and performed by his wife, Rekha, the sexy song is brought to life by the incomparable Malaika Arora. Unlike many lesser item numbers, cinematographer Ranjan Palit keeps his camera a respectful distance from Arora, without zooming in on particular body parts. This is not just a matter of decency but an acknowledgement that, when Arora dances, you need to see her from head to toe.

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Bollywood Box Office: October 5-7, 2018

The weekend’s two new Hindi releases met very different fates at the North American box office, despite opening on approximately the same number of screens. From October 5-7, 2018, the romance Loveyatri earned $73,656 from 50 theaters ($1,473 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. During the same weekend, the thriller Andhadhun earned $251,942 from 54 theaters ($4,666 average). 143 Cinema reports even higher earnings for Andhadhun of $278,464, making for a per-screen average of $5,157. In terms of opening weekend per-screen average, Andhadhun ranks in 6th place for the year, with Loveyatri in 32nd place out of 45 Bollywood films released in North America.

Sui Dhaaga: Made in India held up well in its second weekend of release, retaining 37% of its opening weekend business. It earned $217,816 from 132 theaters ($1,650 average), bringing its North American total to $999,148. Pataakha‘s woes compounded as it lost 98% of its opening weekend business, with a second weekend total of $713 ($143 average). That’s the year’s worst holdover percentage among the 42 Bollywood movies that scored a second weekend here.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Stree: Week 6; $10,717 from seven theaters; $1,531 average; $839,668 total
  • Batti Gul Meter Chalu: Week 3; $1,600 from three theaters; $533 average; $243,216 total
  • Manmarziyaan: Week 4; $638 from one theater; $563,015 total

Sources: 143 Cinema and Bollywood Hungama

Opening October 5: Andhadhun and Loveyatri

Two new Bollywood movies release in Chicago area theaters on October 5, 2018. First up is Andhadhun, a thriller with a dynamite cast that includes Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte, and Tabu.

Andhadhun opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

The weekend’s other new release is Loveyatri, which was called Loveratri until a couple of weeks ago. It marks the film debuts of Warina Husssain and Salman Khan’s brother-in-law.

Loveyatri opens Friday at all three of the above theaters. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

After a good opening weekend, Sui Dhaaga: Made in India carries over for a second week at all three of the above theaters, plus the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

The South Barrington 24 holds onto Stree and Batti Gul Meter Chalu, while MovieMax allots Pataakha two showings over the weekend.

On Thursday, October 11, director Vishal Bhardwaj will be in Chicago for a screening and panel discussion of his brilliant Hamlet adaptation Haider as part of the Chicago International Film Festival. The screening starts at 4:30 p.m., and tickets are just $8.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend: