Author Archives: Kathy

Streaming Video News: October 14, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of upcoming expiration dates. Amazon’s content licensing deals for the back catalogs of Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and the Bhatt brothers’ Vishesh Films are up, which means that fifty-two Hindi films will leave Prime before the end of the month. Recent releases like Dharma’s Kalank and Vishesh’s Begum Jaan are sticking around, but the classic Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… and the guilty pleasure horror flick Khamoshiyan are on the way out. The Dharma movies are likely heading to Netflix, but I’m not sure about the Vishesh pictures. Here’s a list of all the titles on their way out, organized by expiration date:

October 20:

October 23:

October 24:

October 25:

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Streaming Video News: October 10, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with two 2019 Bollywood releases added today. John Abraham’s Batla House is now available for streaming, as is Kunaal Roy Kapur’s comedy Marudhar Express. Dozens of other Indian films have been added in the last week, including Aamir Khan’s 2005 historical drama Mangal Pandey and the 2019 releases Jaddi Sardar (Punjabi) and Kolaiyuthir Kaalam (Tamil).

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of the 2019 Hindi drama Noblemen, starring Kunal Kapoor. In other Netflix news, the Kannada films Kahi and U Turn expire from the streaming service on October 15, followed by the riveting Bollywood crime drama Raman Raghav 2.0 on October 16.

Finally, Mission Mangal is now available for streaming on Hotstar. It’s problematic but watchable.

Opening October 11: The Sky Is Pink

New in Chicago area theaters October 11, 2019, is the Hindi family drama The Sky Is Pink. Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar play parents to a terminally ill daughter, played by Zaira Wasim in her last film before her retirement from the entertainment industry.

The Sky Is Pink opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Arclight Glenview in Glenview, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min. There’s no information on The Sky Is Pink‘s streaming partner yet.

After a great opening weekend, War carries over for a second week at the River East 21, MovieMax, Niles 12, South Barrington 24, Cantera, Naperville 16, Woodridge 18, Regal Round Lake Beach in Round Lake Beach, and Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison.

Dream Girl gets a fifth weekend at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera.

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

Bollywood Box Office: October 4-6, 2019

Mammoth new releases War and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy closed out their first full weekend in North American theaters with War winning the box office battle by just $262. From October 4-6, 2019, War earned $1,607,627 from 305 theaters ($5,271 average), according to Box Office Mojo — good enough to rank 9th at the overall North American box office. Adding in returns accumulated since its opening on October 2 brought War‘s total earnings to $2,114,917.

Multilingual Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy‘s box office run was more heavily front-loaded, with the bulk of its $2,114,655 total coming from its first three days, including North American previews starting on October 1. According to Bollywood Hungama, SRNR made $840,115 from 316 theaters ($2,659 average) over the weekend across all three language versions of the movie.

In its fourth weekend in theaters, Dream Girl earned $90,983 from 64 theaters ($1,422 average), bringing its total to $2,202,765 — good enough to temporarily rank 9th among Hindi movies released in North America this year, before War and SRNR inevitably overtake it.

Chhichhore is on the cusp of passing the $2 million mark, with a $1,990,293 total following weekend earnings of $33,159 from 33 theaters ($1,005 average).

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Section 375: Week 4; $253 from two theaters; $127 average; $91,087 total
  • Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas: Week 3; $71 from one theater; $52,871 total

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, Box Office Mojo

Movie Review: The Zoya Factor (2019)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes
Buy the book at Amazon

A young woman’s good fortune causes headaches for both her and the captain of India’s cricket team as they try to win the World Cup in The Zoya Factor, based on Anuja Chauhan’s 2008 novel of the same name.

The novel and movie are both set in a timeline based on the 2011 Cricket World Cup tournament played in India, but the members of the Indian cricket team are all fictional.

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja plays Zoya, a copywriter struggling to fit in at her snooty advertising firm who’s rejected by potential romantic suitors because of her middle-class background. At least her dad Vijayendra (Sanjay Kapoor, Kapoor Ahuja’s real-life uncle) and older brother Zoravar (Sikander Kher) love her. They believe she brings them luck in their local cricket pickup games because she was born the day India won its last World Cup in 1983.

Zoya is sent on a make-or-break work assignment to photograph members of the Indian Cricket Team. She gets off to a mixed start with the team’s handsome captain, Nikhil (Dulquer Salmaan), who is charmed by her exuberance and frustrated by her determination. But when he sees Zoya’s co-workers ignore her at breakfast the next morning, he invites her to eat with the team, where she tells them that she’s her family’s lucky charm on the cricket pitch. The team wins their match that afternoon, and Zoya becomes their lucky charm, too.

Screenwriters Pradhuman Singh and Neha Rakesh Sharma skillfully adapt Chauhan’s novel, so that all of drama in the film arises from the characters’ conflicting motivations. Zoya is of course delighted when handsome, rich Nikhil takes a romantic interest in her, but she’s just as thrilled to finally fit in with a group. The team’s most superstitious players — Shivy (Abhilash Chaudhary) and Harry (Gandharv Dewan) — value Zoya for her good luck, but they also genuinely like her because she takes an interest in them. She approaches them differently than Nikhil, who believes that hard work is the only factor in team’s success. When he insists that Zoya stay away from the team, lest they put too much faith in her, he doesn’t realize that her presence has a reassuring affect on jittery players like Shivy and Harry, making them more relaxed on the pitch and helping them perform better.

Even the story’s villain, Robin (Angad Bedi), has understandable motives. It would be a lot easier for Robin to reclaim the captaincy he lost to Nikhil if the public and the Indian Cricket Board give Zoya the credit for the team’s victories — especially when Nikhil is trying to keep her away. It just so happens that Robin’s uncle is the head of the Cricket Board, which makes Zoya an offer that forces her to choose what’s really important to her.

Sikander Kher is stealthily terrific in the movie, and his character plays an important part in steering Zoya’s choices. As her big brother, he’s sincerely concerned for her well-being, but he also reinforces all of Zoya’s insecurities by asking her why someone as popular as Nikhil would be with a nobody like her. Adding insult to injury is that she hates his nickname for her, delightfully translated in the English subtitles as “Spongebob.”

The whole cast is likeable, and Salmaan and Kapoor Ahuja are quite cute together. There’s a distracting amount of product placement in The Zoya Factor, but it’s otherwise a sweet, fun romantic comedy.

Links

Streaming Video News: October 4, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with one documentary — Limitless — and four Hindi-language TV shows added on October 1st: College Romance, Engineering Girls, Girls Hostel, and Inmates.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of Indian films added in the last week, including the Pakistani TV shows Hiddat and Noor Jahan and the following 2019 releases:

October got off to a slow start on these two streaming video services, and there’s little on the horizon for the rest of the month. According to Bollywood Buff, Batla House comes to Prime in India on October 11, although that date may not apply to the United States and Canada. The only new Hindi release on the docket for Netflix is their straight-to-streaming film Upstarts, starring Bhavesh Joshi Superhero‘s Priyanshu Painyuli. Upstarts debuts on Netflix October 18.

In Theaters: October 4, 2019

War dominates the Bollywood theater scene in Chicago the weekend beginning Friday, October 4, 2019. It shows in the following local theaters: the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, Regal Round Lake Beach in Round Lake Beach, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, AMC Dine-In Yorktown 18 in Lombard, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and AMC Crestwood 18 in Crestwood. War‘s streaming video partner is Hotstar.

The weekend’s other behemoth is the multilingual release Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, showing locally in three different languages:

Telugu: River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, Naperville 16, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, Century 16 Deer Park in Deer Park, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, Cinemark Tinseltown USA in North Aurora, and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge

Hindi: River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, Naperville 16, and Seven Bridges

Tamil: MovieMax and Seven Bridges

The South Barrington 24 and Cantera hold over Chhichhore and Dream Girl, which also gets a fourth week at MovieMax.

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

Bollywood Box Office: September 27-29, 2019

It was another great weekend for Dream Girl and Chhichhore, and a rotten three days for all of the other Hindi films showing in North America from September 27-29, 2019. Dream Girl held the top spot in its third weekend of release, earning $304,764 from 105 theaters ($2,903 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. Its $2,023,249 total ranks in 10th place for the year so far — just $145,000 behind Total Dhamaal and $300,000 behind Super 30.

Chhichhore had a really nice fourth weekend, taking in $136,494 from 78 theaters ($1,750 average), according to Box Office Mojo. Its $1,924,497 total is right behind Dream Girl in 11th place.

On the other hand, all three of last weekend’s new releases continued their losing streaks. The Zoya Factor earned the most of the lot — $16,566 from 100 theaters ($166 average). A 10-day $121,835 total for a Sonam Kapoor Ahuja film is basically unthinkable at this stage in her career. I’m never going to understand it. Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas was next with $6,236 from 14 theaters ($445 average), bringing its total to $51,727. Prassthanam followed with $2,829 from eight theaters ($354 average). A $29,111 total for a Sanjay Dutt movie? Again, unthinkable.

Then again, this weekend is pretty representative of how 2019 has gone for Bollywood movies in North America. It’s been feast or famine, with no in between. Looking at box office data from the last five years, approximately 25% of Hindi movies released here in a given year earn more than $1 million, with about 35% earning between $200,000 and $1 million, and 40% earning less than $200,000. 2019 is right on pace in that last category, with 41% of releases earning less than $200,000. But an astonishing 44% have taken in more than $1 million here this year. That leaves only 15% (six titles out of 41) in that middle category. The days of a modest $600,000 success are on the way out, but the odds of distributors and studios hitting it big have gone way up.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Section 375: Week 3; $2,947 from three theaters; $982 average; $90,547 total
  • Mission Mangal: Week 7; $1,520 from one theater; $3,657,808 total
  • Saaho: Week 5; $101 from one theater; $3,223,175 total

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

Opening October 2: War

The action extravaganza War — starring Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, and Vaani Kapoor — hits Chicago area theaters on Wednesday, October 2, 2019.

War opens Wednesday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, Regal Round Lake Beach in Round Lake Beach, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, AMC Dine-In Yorktown 18 in Lombard, 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. War‘s streaming video partner is Hotstar.

This week’s other big release is the multilingual epic Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy. It opens primarily in Telugu on Tuesday, October 1, followed by an expansion into Hindi and Tamil on Wednesday. All versions have English subtitles. Here’s where it’s playing on Wednesday:

Telugu: River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, Naperville 16, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, Century 16 Deer Park in Deer Park, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, Cinemark Tinseltown USA in North Aurora, and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge

Hindi: River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, and Seven Bridges

Tamil: MovieMax and Seven Bridges

Streaming Video News: September 27, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with four 2019 titles added in the last week, including the new Netflix original series Bard of Blood, starring Emraan Hashmi. Also new are the Hindi film Malaal, the Telugu sequel Manmadhudu 2, and the Malayalam and Tamil versions of Oh! Baby (the Telugu version was added last week).

Sixteen Indian movies are set to expire from Netflix on October 1 — mostly Malayalam titles, but the service’s lone Manipuri film, Loktak Lairembee, is on its way out as well. The full list of expiring titles is available here.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with more than forty Indian titles added since my last streaming video update. One of those new films is Sonakshi Sinha’s August comedy Khadaani Shafakhana, which contains homophobic slurs. Other recently added 2019 releases include:

The Yash Raj Films exodus from Prime is underway, with ten titles leaving on September 29 and dozens more following on September 30. Click here, then scroll down to the “Expiring Soon” section for the full list of movies on the way out.