Opening August 11: Toilet — Ek Prem Katha

Akshay Kumar’s Independence Day release for 2017 is Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (“Toilet: A Love Story“). The social issue-focused romantic comedy opens in the Chicago area on August 11 and co-stars Dum Laga Ke Haisha‘s Bhumi Pednekar.

Toilet opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

Following a good opening weekend in North American theaters, Jab Harry Met Sejal carries over for a second week at all of the above theaters, plus the AMC Dine-In Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Mubarakan gets a third week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and Woodridge 18.

Starting Friday, the South Barrington 24 and Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale carry the (English subtitled) Pakistani movie Chain Aye Na, which has the best LOL trailer of the year, surpassing the awful Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai trailer. Oh, the poorly edited background music!

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

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Movie Review: Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

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Jab Harry Met Sejal (“When Harry Met Sejal“) feels like a movie constructed in reverse, only concerned with where the characters wind up, but not how or why they reach their destination. A lack of motivating factors makes it hard to invest in the characters, regardless of our affection for the actors playing them.

Harry (Shah Rukh Khan) finances his itinerant womanizing as a tour guide in Europe, bouncing from city to city on the run from memories that ultimately aren’t traumatic enough to warrant their blue-filtered flashbacks.

Before Harry can leave the airport after waving farewell to his latest batch of tourists, one member of the group flags him down, in need of help. Sejal (Anushka Sharma) lost her engagement ring, and she won’t return to India until she finds it. She’s sure she lost it in Amsterdam. Or was it Prague?

The first red flag in Jab Harry Met Sejal is that, despite having spent the last month leading Sejal, her fiance, and their families across Europe, Harry has to ask her name. Did he not learn it during the previous thirty days they spent in each other’s proximity? Not even by accident?

It’s suspicious that Sejal appears to have made no impression whatsoever on Harry, in spite of her undeniable beauty and his reputation as a guy who notices beautiful women. There is an uncomfortable subplot about Sejal’s insecurity about her sex appeal and her specific desire for Harry to find her sexy — a desire that manifests early in their ring-hunting adventure, well before Sejal develops any attraction to Harry (who evidently made as little an impression on her during her family vacation as she did on him).

If the point of Sejal’s engagement-ring-wild-goose-chase isn’t for her to create an opportunity to act upon a preexisting attraction to Harry, then what the hell is she doing? She blackmails Harry into working for her, threatening to falsely report him for sexual misconduct if he doesn’t. Sejal is sort of trying to live it up before her marriage to a guy named Rupen, but we don’t know enough about Sejal, Rupen, or their relationship to understand what’s really driving her actions.

During the course of her journey with Harry, Sejal declares herself his temporary girlfriend, complete with spooning benefits — but only until she finds her ring, she warns, cautioning him not to fall for her. The fake molestation threat plus her (kind of) leading him on gives the whole story an icky Men’s Rights vibe, made worse by Sejal’s classist assumption that she can buy an infinite amount of Harry’s time for the right price.

The temporary girlfriend idea is too stupid a conceit for people of the characters’ ages and intelligence levels — Sejal is a lawyer, for Pete’s sake — to concoct on their own. Writer-director Imtiaz Ali doesn’t seem to care why the characters get together, just that they do. He trusts that the audience’s desire to see characters played by Khan and Sharma get together — as they did in the delightful Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi — will trump their desire for narrative authenticity.

Khan looks amazing, smouldering and magnetic as ever. Sharma is goofy and adorable, especially during an awkward dance scene in a night club. Their performances are darned good, even while playing characters who don’t feel like real people. Ali is a much more talented filmmaker than this. Relying on his actors to shoulder the weight of an entire movie without a solid story to support them isn’t fair.

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Bollywood Box Office: August 4-6, 2017

Director Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry Met Sejal fared very well during an otherwise lousy weekend at the North American box office. From August 4-6, 2017, Jab Harry Met Sejal earned $1,279,586 from 280 theaters ($4,570 average). That’s the third best opening weekend total for a Bollywood movie in North America this year, behind Baahubali 2 and Raees. Those three titles also happen to be the only 2017 releases to earn more than $1 million in their opening weekends here. Canada contributed nearly 20% of the total earnings for the weekend from less than 10% of the total theaters. Canadian per-theater averages were more than double those of theaters in the United States: $9,485 in Canada versus $4,067 in the US.

Mubarakan also performed well in its second weekend of release, holding on to 43% of its opening weekend business (the fifth best performance this year, in that category). Mubarakan earned $131,319 from 148 theaters ($887 average; adjusted average of $1,026 from 128 theaters*), bringing its total earnings to $620,627 — doubling its opening weekend total of $305,449 in just ten days.

Nine theaters in the US held special showings of Baahubali 2 on Saturday night to celebrate the film’s hundredth day of release. With tickets priced at $1, those showings took in $1,001 — bumping Baahubali 2‘s North American total across all languages to $20,792,334. (In case you missed my post from yesterday, Baahubali 2 is now available on Netflix in the US and Canada!)

Other Hindi movies still in US theaters:

  • Mom: Week 5; $1,234 from three theaters; $411 average; $607,473 total
  • Munna Michael: Week 3; $89 from one theater; $105,532 total
  • Jagga Jasoos: Week 4; $88 from one theater; $859,773 total

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Gitesh Pandya, and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

 

Baahubali and Baahubali 2 Are Now on Netflix in Three Languages

Earlier today, I wrote that the Hindi-dubbed versions of Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion were added to Netflix. Since then, the Malayalam-dubbed and Tamil versions of both movies have also been activated on the streaming service. I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix to include the new additions. Each version of each film has its own separate ID at Netflix. Here are the direct links:

Hindi Version of Baahubali 2 is Available on Netflix

Update: All versions of Baahubali and Baahubali 2 are now available.

The Hindi-dubbed versions of Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion are now available on Netflix! If you read my Thoughts on Baahubali piece and my review of Baahubali 2, you know I’m super excited about this news. You’ll find both movies listed under the “Other Indian and Pakistani Movies on Netflix” section of my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix. But that’s not all…

The Tamil and Malayalam-dubbed versions of both movies are on their way to Netflix, too! Although those versions aren’t available yet, Instant Watcher found listings for Baahubali (Malayalam version), Baahubali (Tamil version), Baahubali 2 (Malayalam version), and Baahubali 2 (Tamil version). I will post again when those versions become available. There’s even a note under Netflix’s description of the Hindi version of the first film that reads: “(Tamil, Malayalam, English versions available via search.),” so might we even get English-dubbed versions of the Baahubali films? I’m skeptical. Besides, who needs English-dubbed versions when rekhs and her crew provided us with amazing English subtitles for every version of both movies!

As of right now, the Telugu version of Baahubali 2 doesn’t appear to be available in the US in any format, either on DVD, Blu-ray, or in downloadable form on iTunes (which does carry the first film in Telugu). I’m not sure why that is, but hopefully that will change in the near future.

Streaming Video News: August 4, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with one new addition to the catalog. The 2007 supernatural drama Bhool Bhulaiyaa is now available for streaming. This was one of the first movies I reviewed for the Naperville Sun, and I am still just as impressed with Vidya Balan’s performance in the song “Aami Je Tomar” as I was when the movie came out. For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Opening August 4: Jab Harry Met Sejal

Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma reunite for director Imtiaz Ali’s romantic comedy Jab Harry Met Sejal, opening in Chicago area theaters on August 4, 2017.

JHMS opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Dine-In 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, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and AMC Loews Crestwood 18 in Crestwood. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 23 min.

Mubarakan carries over for a second week at the River East 21, MovieMax, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, Marcus Addison, Cantera 17, and Woodridge 18.

MovieMax also hosts a special showing of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion in Telugu on Saturday, August 5, at 8 p.m. Tickets are only $1!

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend: