Movie Review: 102 Not Out (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at Amazon or iTunes

A centenarian father tries to loosen up his grumpy, geriatric son in 102 Not Out, a funny, poignant take on parent-child relationships.

102-year-old Dattatraya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) announces to his 75-year-old son Babulal (Rishi Kapoor) his intention to become the world’s longest-lived man, breaking a record held by a Chinese man who lived to 118. Dattatraya claims that the current record holder said in an interview that “old, boring, unenthusiastic people are more injurious to health than cigarettes.”

That description fits Babulal to a tee. He’s cautious and cranky, and nothing makes him happy — a perfect foil to his fun-loving, curious father. Dattatraya believes the best way to protect his own health and beat the record is to remove Babulal’s negative influence from his life. Dattatraya hands Babulal a brochure for an old folks’ home and tells him to pack his bags.

When a flustered Babulal protests, Dattatraya offers him a way out. Babulal can stay if he agrees to perform a series of tasks determined by his father, designed to shake Babulal out of his routine. To make the agreement official, the tasks are logged and witnessed by Dhiru (Jimit Trivedi), a 30-something pharmacy delivery man Dattatraya adopts as his sidekick.

Fulfilling Dattatraya’s conditions initially brings the three men closer together, but as they get closer to the heart of Babulal’s unhappiness, Dattatraya’s unorthodox prescriptions threaten to drive a permanent wedge between them.

Director Umesh Shukla’s picturization of Saumya Joshi’s play touches on a number of interesting themes, some of which seem in opposition to one another. Dattatreya demands that Babulal change, but he also wants Babulal to accept people as they are — chiefly Babulal’s absent son, Amol. While he’s busy wishing for a more gratifying relationship with Amol, Babulal ignores the fact that there’s a young man, Dhiru, who’s happy to accompany him on Dattatreya’s quests.

One aspect that could’ve been explored further is the idea that, even though Babulal is himself a grandparent, Dattatreya has sole claim to the maxim “father knows best” so long as he lives. Babulal just mentions it once, grousing about Dattatreya’s luck that his own father died while Dattatreya was young enough to enjoy the perks of being the head of the household. The story offers only two options for parent-child relationships — total deference to the parent or estrangement — and it would’ve been interesting to see if the characters could reach some middle ground.

The comfortable rapport Bachchan and Kapoor have developed after more than four decades of experience working together peeks through in small gestures, like the grin on Babulal’s face as Dattatreya lip-syncs old movie tunes to him. Trivedi fits in perfectly with the veteran duo.

102 Not Out is brief enough never to lose momentum, the story flowing between comedy and drama as it addresses family dynamics that are often times as comical as they are dramatic.

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Opening May 4: 102 Not Out

One new Bollywood movie opens in Chicago area theaters on May 4, 2018. The comedy 102 Not Out stars Amitabh Bachchan as a centenarian, and Rishi Kapoor plays his elderly son.

102 Not Out opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It is rated PG and has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 42 min.

The South Barrington 24 also carries over October, Baaghi 2, and Blackmail.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in Chicagoland this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: April 27-29, 2018

No new releases made for a lackluster weekend at the North American box office for Bollywood films. While Avengers: Infinity War set opening weekend records and the Telugu hit Bharat Ane Nenu crossed the $3 million mark, October quietly led the way among Hindi movies with $22,384 from 21 theaters ($1,066 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. The Varun Dhawan drama has total earnings of $498,484 after three weekends in the United States and Canada.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North America (no data for Baaghi 2):

  • Blackmail: Week 4; $7,196 from ten theaters; $720 average; $294,060 total
  • Beyond the Clouds: Week 2; $1,102 from five theaters; $220 average; $40,898 total
  • Hichki: Week 6; $900 from one theater; $766,979 total
  • Raid: Week 7; $564 from one theater; $1,088,345 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Streaming Video News: May 2, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with two new additions to the catalog. Amitabh & Rekha’s 1977 film Alaap is now available for streaming, as is Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. Prime now has two 2018 theatrical releases — SKTKS and Padmaavat — in its catalog, while Netflix has none (although it is the exclusive home of Love Per Square Foot). Oh, and Eros Now has Mukkabaaz.

We’re approaching the time of year when we can expect to see 2018 theatrical releases show up on streaming services more regularly. On May 26 of last year, Netflix added Raees, and Amazon’s Heera (R.I.P.) added Commando 2. Two more 2017 titles showed up in June before things really picked up in July. If there’s a movie you missed seeing in the theater earlier this year, you may not have to wait much longer before you can watch it from the comfort of home.

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

Streaming Video News: May 1, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with an interesting assortment of new additions to the catalog. The insightful drama Waiting is now available for streaming, as are Gurgaon and the disappointing 2017 romance Running Shaadi. Also new is Onaatah, the first Netflix’s first Khasi-language movie. Here are today’s other newly added flicks:

Perhaps the most compelling additions are four TV shows that just started airing on the cable channel Discovery Jeet within the last few months: Anjaan: Special Crimes Unit, Khan No. 1, Mere Papa Hero Hiralal, and Swami Baba Ramdev: The Untold Story. It’s pretty cool to be able to catch up on episodes so soon after their Indian debuts. For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: April 27, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a bunch of recent additions to the catalog. The new batch includes a few Tamil and Marathi films and some Hindi-dubbed titles, but most are Hindi movies. I’ve only seen a few of them, including Aakrosh (which I found really accessible for an international audience), Kidnap (which had its moments), and Jail (which stunk). Here are the rest of the new Hindi films (for all other titles, check the “Newly Added” section at the top of my Amazon Prime page):

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix to include the surprise addition of three older Shah Rukh Khan movies: Main Hoon Na, Paheli,and Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.

In Theaters: April 27, 2018

No new Hindi movies release in Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning April 27, 2018, which is just as well since every bit of available screenspace is seemingly allotted to Avengers: Infinity War. Beyond the Clouds gets a second week at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, which also holds over October, Baaghi 2, and Blackmail.

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

Bollywood Box Office: April 20-22, 2018

Bollywood films didn’t stand a chance against the Telugu behemoth Bharat Ane Nenu, which earned more than $2.5 million in its opening weekend in North America. The lone new Hindi release — Beyond the Clouds — earned $26,166 from 32 theaters ($818 average)* during the weekend of April 20-22, 2018, according to Bollywood Hungama.

October held up reasonably well in its second week of release, hanging onto 40% of its opening weekend business. It earned $94,549 from 65 theaters ($1,455 average), bringing its total earnings to $438,978.

On the other hand, last weekend’s other new release, Mercury, lost over 90% of its opening weekend business, taking in just $4,799 from ten theaters ($480 average). Its total stands at $76,762.

Other Indian movies still showing in North American theaters (no complete figures for Baaghi 2):

  • Blackmail: Week 3; $16,051 from 13 theaters; $1,235 average; $282,652 total
  • Hichki: Week 5; $5,700 from four theaters; $1,425 average; $763,091 total
  • Raid: Week 6; $1,510 from two theaters; $755 average; $1,087,195 total

*Bollywood Hungama routinely counts Canadian theaters twice in its weekly reporting, at least for a movie’s first few weekends of release. When possible, I try to verify the correct theater count with other sources, like Box Office Mojo. The above figures represent what I believe to be the actual theater counts. Bollywood Hungama’s reporting technically puts Beyond the Clouds in 41 theaters (making for a $638 per-theater average).

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Movie Review: Beyond the Clouds (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

A complex blend of heartbreak and hope, Beyond the Clouds examines the role family bonds play in making poverty survivable, while showing us that the concept of family needn’t be limited to blood relations.

Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s first Hindi picture takes place in Mumbai. An arresting opening sequence filmed by cinematographer Anil Mehta follows Amir (Ishaan Khattar) as he receives a bag of drugs from a car on a highway overpass. The camera sweeps down as he crosses under the roadway, and then it turns to watch Amir and his friend Anil (Aakash Gopal) speed away on a motorbike.

Amir and Anil are small-time drug runners, young and brash enough to overestimate the amount of power they really have. The don they work for, Rahoul (Shashank Shende), decides to put them in their place after Amir shows up at Rahoul’s brothel unannounced. He sets them up to be nabbed in a police raid.

During the course of a thrilling police chase, Amir happens upon his estranged older sister, Tara (Malavika Mohanan), and then hides out at her house. The encounter gives them a chance to hash out the reasons for their estrangement, perhaps setting the stage for a healthier relationship going forward.

Their reunion is short-lived. Tara is arrested the next day for seriously injuring her employer Akshi (Goutam Ghose) during an attempted rape. It falls on Amir to nurse his sister’s assailant back to health so that Akshi can testify to his part in the assault, the only way to free Tara.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of Beyond the Clouds is its depiction of how tenuous even modest notions of comfort and security can be on the bottom rungs of society’s ladder, especially for women. Amir’s association with illegal drugs can bring his wild lifestyle to a halt at a moment’s notice. And his rising of the ranks of Rahoul’s organization comes at the expense of drug addicts and women forced into prostitution.

Then again, Amir is more morally flexible than the average Hindi-film hero, able to pivot from making silly faces at a child to threatening a paralyzed Akshi with a knife without blinking an eye. It’s less a factor of his youth than his having grown up reliant upon such flexibility to survive. Khattar does a creditable job in his debut film.

Mohanan is less successful in her depiction of Tara, who acts zombified in her conversations with Amir after she’s imprisoned. Yet, when Amir isn’t around, Tara seems well-adjusted to prison life, looking after Chotu (Shivan Pujan), the young son of an ill fellow inmate (played by Tannishtha Chatterjee). Tara’s relationship with Chotu embodies the movie’s theme that our “family” is made up not just of blood relatives, but also those we choose to care for.

Chotu is one of many examples in Beyond the Clouds of kids living in places distinctly not child-friendly because their mothers are poor and have no one who can help them. Dozens of little ones run underfoot in jail, an arrangement permitted in some Indian prisons for children under six years old. One worker at Rahoul’s brothel shoos her daughter out of their room when a client arrives. Amir himself becomes a reluctant babysitter when Akshi’s impoverished elderly mother and two daughters arrive from South India and mistake him for one of Akshi’s friends.

The surprising weak point in Beyond the Clouds is A.R. Rahman’s soundtrack. Though the tone of the film isn’t dour, Rahman’s score is still too upbeat for the circumstances. Nevertheless, Beyond the Clouds is a thought-provoking, heartfelt exploration of our shared humanity.

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Opening April 20: Beyond the Clouds

The touching family drama Beyond the Clouds hits Chicago area theaters on April 20, 2018.

Beyond the Clouds opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington. It has a runtime of 2 hours.

October gets a second week at both of the above theaters, plus the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.

Baaghi 2 and Hichki carry over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24, which also holds over Blackmail.

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