Author Archives: Kathy

Streaming Video News: August 7, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because director Sujoy Ghosh’s March, 2019 film Badla is now available for streaming. I didn’t like it as much as his earlier mystery Kahaani (also on Netflix), but it’s entertaining enough. If you’d like to play the Split Screen Podcast at-home game, you can watch The Invisible Guest — the Spanish movie on which Badla is based — on Netflix as well.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a handful of Indian films added in the last several days, including the 2019 releases 1st Rank Raju (Telugu), Gho Gho Rani (Hindi), and Raatchasi (Tamil). In case you missed my last Streaming Video News post, Salman Khan’s Bharat is now available for streaming, too.

To give you a sense of just how big Amazon’s Indian catalog is, I recently removed about 80 expired links from my list, and it only reduced the count to 2,428 movies. If you wanted to watch a different Indian movie on Prime every day, it would take you six-and-a-half years to see all of them — and that’s only if Amazon didn’t add any new films!

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Bollywood Box Office: August 2-4, 2019

Sonakshi Sinha’s comedy Khandaani Shafakhana had a disastrous opening weekend in North America, earning just $29,631 from 50 theaters ($593 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. This is the latest in a string of disappointing performances by Sinha’s comedies here, starting last winter with Welcome to New York ($111,044 opening; $225,366 total), and followed in the summer by Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi ($66,179 opening; $135,815 total).

Judgementall Hai Kya held up well in its second weekend, earning $106,624 from 52 theaters ($2,050 average) and bringing its total to $456,252. Last weekend’s other new release — Arjun Patiala — fell hard, its business dropping by almost 95%. It earned just $4,091 from 12 theaters ($341 average). Its total stands at $106,804.

In its seventh weekend, Kabir Singh earned $13,275 from eight theaters ($1,659 average), bringing its total to $2,604,106. One interesting note about Kabir Singh‘s strong box office performance is that 40% of its North American total has come from Canada. Even big Hindi releases only open in 20-40 theaters in Canada, compared to 100-300 theaters in the United States, meaning that most Bollywood films derive about 20% of their combined North American total from Canada. 40% — over $1 million in Kabir Singh‘s case — is huge!

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Super 30: Week 4; $82,767 from 75 theaters; $1,104 average; $2,266,658 total
  • Article 15: Week 6; $980 from two theaters; $490 average; $1,058,891 total
  • Photograph: Week $50 from one theater ;$351,408 total

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Streaming Video News: August 1, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with seven newly added Indian films and two TV shows. The Hindi movies 3 Idiots, Darna Mana Hai, Ek Hasina Thi, Ferrari Ki Sawaari, and Wazir are now available on for streaming — which is a little weird because they’re all available on Amazon Prime as well. 3 Idiots, Ferrari Ki Sawaari, and Wazir were all added to Prime in the last month, in fact. So much for exclusivity on the streaming services, I guess. Also new to Netflix today are the 2019 Tamil sequel Uriyadi 2, the Telugu film Manu, the Hindi docuseries Regiment Diaries, and the Pakistani drama series Khaani.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a dozen new additions in the last two days, including three 2019 releases: Diljit Dosanjh’s Punjabi comedy Shadaathe Marathi drama DNA, and Mammootty’s Malayalam action film Unda, which is also available in 4K Ultra HD.

August 2 Update: Salman Khan’s June, 2019 release Bharat is now on Amazon Prime.

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

Opening August 2: Khandaani Shafakhana

Just one new Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on August 2, 2019. Sonakshi Sinha runs a fertility clinic in the comedy Khandaani Shafakhana.

Khandaani Shafakhana opens Friday at the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 16 min.

The South Barrington 24 and MovieMax Cinemas in Niles hold over last weekend’s new releases Arjun Patiala and Judgementall Hai Kya, which also gets a second week at Cantera.

All three of the above theaters give a fourth week to Super 30, as do the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. Kabir Singh gets a seventh week at MovieMax.

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

Streaming Video News: July 30, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of the 2019 release 7, which is available in both Tamil and Telugu. The Netflix original Hindi horror series Typewriter was also recently added, and the reporting about it here in the United States has been a little awkward.

Some Netflix expiration dates of note include Amu on August 1, Jab We Met on August 2, and Parched on August 5.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of new additions in the last week, notably the 2019 releases Kantharam (Malayalam) and Rustum (Kannada) and the restored version of the 1928 silent film Shiraz: A Romance of India.

So, what new movies can we hope to find on the streaming services in August? Badla is almost certain to hit Netflix on August 8, five months after its theatrical release. The second season of Sacred Games drops on August 15, with Article 15 joining Netflix on August 24. Over on Amazon Prime, Bollywood Buff expects Salman Khan’s Bharat to become available for streaming on August 2 followed by Student of the Year 2 on August 26. In between, we’ll get director Ritesh Batra’s Photograph on Prime on August 16. Happy viewing!

Bollywood Box Office: July 26-28, 2019

Two new Hindi releases met very different fates at the North American box office during the weekend of July 26-28, 2019. The Kangana Ranaut-Rajkummar Rao dark comedy Judgementall Hai Kya scored big, earning $248,781 from 59 theaters ($4,217 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. I’m surprised it didn’t open in more theaters, given the popularity of its lead actors.

The weekend’s other new release — Arjun Patiala — appears to have been a victim of theatrical overreach or bad timing (or both). The Diljit Dosanjh-Kriti Sanon romantic comedy earned just $67,407 from 73 theaters ($923 average). Two Punjabi-language releases — Chal Mera Putt and Ardaas Karan — performed really well here over the weekend, siphoning off much of Dosanjh’s core fanbase despite both Punjabi films showing on less than half as many screens as Arjun Patiala.

Super 30 held strong in its third weekend, earning enough to push it past the $2 million mark. The biographical drama earned $189,224 from 128 theaters ($1,478 average), bringing its total to $2,111,832, according to Box Office Mojo.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North America:

  • Kabir Singh: Week 6; $19,378 from 18 theaters; $1,077 average; $2,573,373 total
  • Article 15: Week 5; $7,705 from nine theaters; $856 average; $1,054,918 total
  • Photograph: Week 11; $111 from one theater; $351,358 total

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

Opening July 26: Arjun Patiala and Judgementall Hai Kya

Two new Hindi movies hit Chicago area theaters on July 26, 2019. First up is the romantic comedy Arjun Patiala, starring Diljit Dosanjh and Kriti Sanon.

Arjun Patiala opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera in Warrenville. It has a quick runtime of 1 hr. 47 min.

Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao play antagonists in the weekend’s other new release, Judgementall Hai Kya. The psychological black comedy opens Friday at all three of the above theaters and has a runtime of 2 hrs. 2 min.

Super 30 carries over for a third week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Article 15 and Kabir Singh both hold over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

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

Movie Review: Article 15 (2019)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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A big city bureaucrat appointed to oversee a small town police department gets tangled in a web of politics, caste, and greed in the dynamite thriller Article 15.

Ayan (Ayushmann Khurrana) is the ideal audience avatar. He rolls into the town of Laalgaon, telling his girlfriend Aditi (Isha Talwar) over the phone that the place looks like something out of an ’80s movie. He notes the freshness of the country air. It’s a world apart from the large cities — domestic and international — that Ayan is used to.

Besides the predictable culture shock, there’s something strange about the town. Despite what Ayan said about the fresh air, there’s a pall over the town that bathes it and its inhabitants in sickly yellow or gray tones (per cinematographer Ewan Mulligan). Ayan meets a former classmate, Satyendra (Aakash Dabhade), who is evasive and twitchy instead of the cheerful friend Ayan remembers. The rest of the cops — led by Ayan’s second-in-command, Bhramadatt (Manoj Pahwa) — are eager to close the case of two Dalit (lower caste) girls who were reported missing days earlier and found murdered. Only Ayan seems interested in the whereabouts of a third girl reported missing with them.

At first, Ayan is too smug to see what’s really going on, buoyed his sense of worldliness and the power accorded his position. He accepts Bhramadatt’s assessment of the murders as “honor killings” committed by the girls’ fathers, and he’s dismissive of Gaura (Sayani Gupta), the sister of the third missing girl. Only when he discovers that Bhramadatt is stalling him on the results of the postmortem and when his own men are attacked by Dalit activists does Ayan realize that he’s missing crucial pieces of the puzzle.

Laalgaon is governed by a rigid, complicated interpretation of the caste system. There are layers within layers, so that everyone ranks slightly above or below someone else. It reinforces social systems governing occupations, food handling, even whose shadow is allowed to fall on whom.

Money perpetuates the caste system in town, even though using it to discriminate against certain groups is officially prohibited by Article 15 of the Indian Constitution. By marginalizing the lowest castes, the people at the top ensure a steady supply of what is essentially slave labor. American audiences will notice similarities to how the white power structure here replaced lost laborers following the abolition of slavery, as explained in Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th. The activist group in the Article 15 is in part a sort of militant labor union, and when they strike, the film shows in disgusting detail how dependent the town is on the workers who do the “dirty” jobs no one else wants.

Some people in Laalgaon have transcended certain aspects of their caste, such as Jatav (Kumud Mishra), who became a police officer with Bhramadatt’s help, even though his father was a school janitor. The status elevation turned Jatav into one of the most vocal critics of those below him, and his fear of falling back down the ladder keeps him subservient to those above. His eventual realization that turning his back on his people only made things worse is hard-earned and painful.

The scene that best captures the all-encompassing nature of Laalgaon’s power dynamics involves Bhramadatt and Jatav. As both men sob, Bhramadatt shakes Jatav, accusing him of ingratitude and endangering their very lives by aiding Ayan’s investigation. (More than one character states that the worst that will happen to Ayan is he’ll be transferred, while the locals who help him will be killed.) Though Bhramdatt ranks higher socially than Jatav, both serve the rich and politically connected at the top. Seeing these gray-haired men so terrified drives home how precarious their lives have always been in a place governed by something other than the rule of law.

Pahwa and Mishra are the standouts in a film full of amazing performances. Gupta is resolute in the face of a system designed not to help people like her. Same for Ronjini Chakraborty as the junior Medical Examiner who knows the truth of what happened to the murdered girls. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub’s portrayal of the Dalit revolutionary leader is terrific.

Aditi tells Ayan at one point that she doesn’t want him to be a hero, she wants him to be the man who doesn’t wait for the hero to arrive. That sentiment governs the way Khurrana plays Ayan. There’s a problem to solve, and Ayan does it without a lot of flash, using the skills he has at his disposal. Khurrana’s understated performance suits the movie perfectly.

Article 15 has a few moments that feel a little preachy, but they’re born of director Anubhav Sinha’s and writer Gaurav Solanki’s passion for the film’s message of justice. Their movie is thoughtful and relevant, with jaw-dropping surprises. Article 15 is a must-see.

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Bollywood Box Office: July 19-21, 2019

Super 30 had a really nice second weekend after a slow opening in North America. From July 19-21, 2019, the biographical drama earned $441,945 from 189 theaters ($2,338 average), according to Box Office Mojo. It held onto 50% of its opening weekend business — the best carryover rate for the year so far among Hindi films that debuted in at least 150 theaters. Its 10-day total stands at $1,731,646.

Kabir Singh did a brisk business in its fifth weekend of release, earning $58,482 from 25 theaters ($2,339 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. That brings its total to $2,509,109.

Article 15 closed out its fourth weekend with $23,700 from 17 theaters ($1,394 average), pushing the thriller’s total to seven digits: $1,038,992.

Here’s a fun fact: of the 28 Hindi films to release in North America in 2019, half have earned more than $1 million. I looked back through the last five years of box office data, and only two years — 2016 and 2018 — had more than 14 $1 million-earners total (15 and 18 movies, respectively). It’s super unlikely that the 50% ratio will hold through the end of the year, but nevertheless, a lot of Hindi films are going to make a lot of money here in 2019.

Meanwhile in Canada, Photograph earned $134 from one theater. After ten weeks in North America, it’s earned $351,247.

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

In Theaters: July 19, 2019

No new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area the weekend beginning July 19, 2019. After a lackluster opening weekend, Super 30 carries over for a second week at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Article 15 gets a fourth week at MovieMax, South Barrington, and Cantera.

Kabir Singh hangs on for a fifth week at MovieMax, South Barrington, and the AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont.

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