Bollywood Box Office: January 4-6, 2019

In its second weekend of release, Simmba earned $1,005,087 from 292 theaters ($3,442 average), according to Box Office Mojo. Its total of $4,115,790 is enough to lock up fourth place at the North American Bollywood box office for 2018 — third place if you exclude multilingual movies like Rajinikanth’s 2.0 and only count exclusively Hindi releases.

Other Hindi and multilingual movies still showing in North America:

  • K.G.F — Chapter 1: Week 3; $57,204 from 56 theaters; $1,022 average; $758,838 total
  • Zero: Week 3; $34,029 from 50 theaters; $681 average; $2,281,052 total
  • Kedarnath: Week 5; $4,014 from two theaters; $2,007 average; $888,152 total
  • 2.0: Week 6; $1,623 from three theaters; $541 average; $5,355,442 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

 

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Streaming Video News: January 4, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of 2018’s biggest flop, Thugs of Hindostan. To be fair, it’s not a terrible movie, despite its dismal box office performance. It’s the perfect thing to keep your kids occupied for a few hours since they’ve been out of school for nearly two weeks, and I know you parents are stressing because you’ve run out of ideas for how to entertain them. The movie’s available in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu and in standard and 4K Ultra High Definition. Here are links to the various versions:

In addition, Amazon added a couple of Sridevi movies — Suhaagan (Hindi) and Vetagadu (Telugu) and ten other Indian films. The Prime Video India Twitter account tweeted that Sui Dhaaga: Made in India debuts on Amazon on January 11. Hopefully that’s a global premiere date and not just India only.

Streaming Video News: January 3, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a bunch of new additions to the streaming catalog. Highlights among the recently added movies — which mostly consist of older Hindi and Telugu titles — include Village Rockstars, India’s submission to this year’s Oscars. The movie was originally filmed in Assamese, but Amazon’s version is dubbed in Hindi. Also new is the Richa Chadda & Neil Nitin Mukesh movie Ishqeria, which was filmed from 2012-2014 but didn’t release until September of last year. I’m also really excited because Andhadhun director Sriram Raghavan’s first film, Ek Hasina Thi, is finally available for streaming.

Amazon’s recent strategy — at least the one they’re allowing distributors to pursue — is to add about a dozen or so Indian movies to the catalog every day. It sounds cool, but it’s really easy to miss stuff if you take a few days off. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for you to visit Access Bollywood every day to see what’s new, but you shouldn’t be obligated. Adding movies in large batches on a regular schedule would give titles and consumers (and me, LOL!) room to breathe.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix. Netflix started the new year quietly, with the addition of three Tamil movies — Merku Thodarchi Malai, Puriyatha Puthir, and Taramani — and the original series Comedians of the World, featuring stand-up specials from Indian comics Atul Khatri, Aditi Mittal, and Amit Tandon.

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

Movie Review: Zero (2018)

0.5 Stars (out of 4)

Zero is a disaster for many reasons, but its biggest problem is that director Aanand L. Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma failed to realize that their film’s hero is a horrible person.

So why didn’t they notice that their creation, Bauua (Shah Rukh Khan), is an irredeemable prick? The filmmaking duo has a history of writing male leads who don’t respect the women they claim to love, like Kundan in Raanjhanaa and Manu in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. There’s also the assumption that Khan’s massive fanbase will automatically project their love for him onto his character, no matter who the character is or what he does.

Mostly they were blinded by the Zero‘s central conceit: using computer generated effects and film techniques similar to those used in the Lord of the Rings movies to shrink a superstar actor. Zero was never about the struggles of a man with dwarfism. If it were, they’d have at least gone through the pretext of casting a little person for the lead role. (Same goes for Anushka Sharma’s role as a woman with cerebral palsy.) This was always about spending a budget fives times as large as the filmmaking duo had previously worked with on fancy special effects and an expensive cast, trusting in those effects and stars to bring people to the theater — regardless of whether the movie was any good or not.

Other than his diminutive stature, nothing differentiates Bauua from any number of Bollywood male leads who believe their gender entitles them to anything they want. As the son of a rich father (played by Tigmanshu Dhulia), Bauua has coasted through life on Dad’s dime since dropping out of school in the tenth grade. Now aged 38 — Khan is 53, by the way — that means Bauua has spent twenty years doing absolutely nothing.

Nevertheless, he confidently turns down all the potential brides chosen by the matchmaker (played by Brijendra Kala) until he spots a photo of Aafia (Anushka Sharma). Bauua is initially turned off by the tremors caused by Aafia’s cerebral palsy, but he decides her use of a wheelchair makes them more-or-less equal. Never mind that he’s a high school dropout and she’s a world-renowned rocket scientist.

Bauua’s defining moment is his response to being rejected by Aafia after a presumptuous proposal in front of a bunch of elementary school students. Bauua shows up at a press conference to publicly humiliate Aafia, stating that while she may be able to lead a mission to Mars, she can’t pick up the pen he just dropped on the ground. Pleased with himself, he walks away, only to hear a commotion behind him as Aafia crawls on the ground and lifts the pen.

What Bauua does is unforgivable, yet Aafia immediately forgives him and their love blossoms. Aafia’s inexplicable forgiveness of Bauua is a clear example of Bollywood’s desperate need for female storytellers. Rai & Sharma aren’t done humiliating Aafia yet, as Bauua ditches her to take his shot with the country’s sexiest actress, Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif, in the movie’s only role with any semblance of believable humanity).

After the intermission break, Zero goes full bonkers. Bauua replaces a chimpanzee training for a space mission (which is totally not insulting to little people or anything).

I’m not sure if it’s an intentional homage, but Zero has a lot of parallels to my favorite So-Bad-It’s-Good movie: Gunda. Both have a monkey and a baby that shows up out of nowhere. Vengeful Bauua frequently speaks in movie lines, Gunda‘s Bulla in couplets. There are montages that make no geographical sense, as when Bauua spends a song stumbling through Times Square, downtown Orlando, and Huntsville, Alabama — all of which are supposed to be the same place, apparently. Zero‘s opening dream sequence even reminded me of the scene in Gunda where Bulla’s sister is raped.

All of which is to say, Zero is a terrible movie. The only reason it merits even a half-a-star rating is because Katrina Kaif is so damned good in her role. The rest of the movie is a trash fire.

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Streaming Video News: December 24, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with another 22 Hindi and Telugu films added in the last two days. Here are all the newly added Bollywood titles:

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because Omi Vaidya’s documentary Big in Bollywood expires from the service on December 31.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Streaming Video News: December 22, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of new additions in the last few days. Besides older Hindi fare like Shammi Kapoor’s Tumsa Nahin Dekha and more recent Telugu releases like 2014’s Yevadu, Prime also added the Neil Nitin Mukesh crime drama Dassehra, which hit theaters in India in October of this year. Since the beginning of December, Prime has increased its Indian movie catalog by almost 150 titles.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with two 2018 releases: the Hindi film Ascharyachakit! and the Malayalam thriller Lilli.

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

Opening December 21: Zero

Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero — co-starring Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif — opens in 300 theaters across North American on December 21, 2018, including eleven Chicago area theaters.

Zero opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, AMC Oakbrook Center 12 in Oak Brook, and AMC Loews Crestwood 18 in Crestwood. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 44 min.

Kedarnath carries over for a third week at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24, which also holds over the 3D version of 2.0 in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi.

The weekend’s new multilingual release is K.G.F: Chapter 1, showing in Kannada, Telugu, and Hindi (all with English subtitles) at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Woodridge 18. MovieMax and the Woodridge 18 also carry the film in Tamil.

Other Indian movies:

Streaming Video News: December 18, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the exciting addition of the neo-noir thriller Andhadhun, my favorite Hindi film of the year so far. Other newly added 2018 releases include the Tamil movie Vanjagar Ulagam, the Malayalam flick Lilli, and the Hindi TV series Anjaan: Rural Myths.

One of the year’s biggest hits in the US — Badhaai Ho — is now streaming on Hotstar.

Amazon Prime added a ton of Indian content in the last few days. Many of the sixty or so movies added are actually returning titles, movies like Action Replayy that disappeared at the end of November.

Here’s the thing about Amazon: those old links from November no longer work, even if a movie was only MIA for a few weeks. Unlike Netflix — which makes one catalog entry for each title — Amazon makes a brand new product entry for each title depending on which distributor has the licensing contract. So if you watched Swami back in early November, you watched a version licensed by a particular company to be streamed by Amazon. When that contract expired, the product essentially disappeared even though it’s catalog entry remains. Then Amazon signed a new deal with Ultra Media & Entertainment, for which Amazon made a whole new entry for Swami, even though it’s the same movie.

One of the perks of the Netflix system is that, if a movie in your List expires, it’ll show back up in your List again if Netflix signs a new contract to stream it, even if it’s with a different company. To find out if a title that expired from Amazon becomes available again, you need, well…me. No worries, though. Main hoon na, y’all.

Bollywood Box Office: December 14-16, 2018

Even with no new movies in theaters, it was still a good weekend for Hindi films in North America. Rajinikanth’s multilingual 3D extravaganza 2.0 led the field, taking in $189,981 from 114 theaters ($1,667 average) in its third weekend of release, according to Bollywood Hungama. It’s earned $5,226,994 here so far, across all languages.

Kedarnath was next with $164,684 from 97 theaters ($1,698 average), bringing its 10-day total to $713,270.

9-week-old Badhaai Ho was third with $7,809 from nine theaters ($867 average), boosting the family comedy’s overall total to $3,316,788. The family comedy made its streaming debut on Hotstar over the weekend, so its theatrical days are numbered.

Same goes for Andhadhun, which hit Netflix yesterday. In its 11th weekend of release — the longest theatrical run for a Hindi film in the United States this year — the thriller earned $3,265 from three theaters ($1,088 average), bringing its total to $1,373,943.

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Kedarnath (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Two lovers on opposite sides of a religious and class divide fall in love just before their world falls apart in Kedarnath. The compelling central romance is eclipsed by a well-executed disaster sequence based on the tragic floods of June, 2013, which destroyed much of Kedarnath and killed thousands.

Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput) works as a porter, ferrying Hindu pilgrims and their belongings up the winding mountain path to Kedarnath Temple. He and the other Muslim porters and shopkeepers have a history of cooperation with the Hindu innkeepers, allowing everyone to make a steady living during the six months of the year that the temple is accessible.

An upstart Hindu landowner, Kullu (Nishant Dahiya), sees profit in building a fancy new hotel in the valley, increasing the number of pilgrims and displacing a number of shopkeepers in the process. Mansoor — whose mother’s shop would be demolished to make way for the hotel — argues that more buildings and pilgrims could put the infrastructure of the whole valley at risk. Briraaj (Nitish Bharadwaj), a Hindu priest, appreciates Mansoor’s dedication to Kedarnath despite not being a Hindu himself.

That appreciation only extends so far, however. Briraaj isn’t about to let his younger daughter, Mukku (Sara Ali Khan), date a Muslim. Mansoor’s relationship with her exposes simmering inter-religious divisions and provides a pretext for violence, led by Kullu, who’s engaged to Mukku after dumping her older sister, Brinda (the beautiful Pooja Gor). The floods hit before the town can erupt into full-scale riots.

Khan shows poise and charisma in her first film role, but Mukku is problematic. She has a lot in common with stereotypical Bollywood man-child protagonists in that she’s immature and unable to see things from other’s perspectives. She has no regard for how her romance with Mansoor affects him, his family, or the other Muslims in the valley, so confident is she that her desires are right simply because she desires them.

Unlike the typical man-child protagonist character arc in which he finds a woman who makes him aware of the world and his role in it, Mukku’s worldview doesn’t change. Her position as the privileged daughter of a powerful man makes her overestimate her ability to shape her world to her will. If she’s just persistent enough, she can break down Mansoor’s barriers and make him fall in love with her. That same persistence will get her out of her engagement to Kullu, she believes. She’s even convinced that she can influence cricket matches and the weather.

Having been mostly insulated from negative consequences thus far, Mukku fails to account for all of the other factors that influence the events in her life, like the desires of other people, the lucky bounce of a cricket ball, and the randomness of a natural disaster. Mukku’s arrogance makes one question whether, from a narrative standpoint, her star-crossed romance with Mansoor is a worthy enough endeavor to balance the deaths of thousands in raging floodwaters.

That balance undermines the vibrant romantic tension conjured by Khan and Rajput. This is Rajput’s most charming performance in years after lackluster outings in M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story and Raabta, a reminder of how good he can be in the right role. It would be fun to see these two leads pair up again in the future after Khan gains more acting experience.

Director Abhishek Kapoor successfully blends practical effects with computer generated ones in Kedarnath‘s climactic disaster, with Rajput and Khan battling treacherous waters in thrilling sequences. The rarity of Bollywood disaster movies is perhaps reason enough to watch Kedarnath, coupled with the intrigued of a star scion’s debut (Khan’s father is Saif Ali Khan). If only the central romance matched the film’s spectacle.

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