Streaming Video News: December 17, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because the service announced another batch of older Hindi releases set to join the catalog later this month. This time, it’s titles from Shemaroo Entertainment — many of which are currently on Amazon Prime. I’ll update this post if Amazon announces expiration dates for those titles. Here are all 36 of the Shemaroo movies set to join Netflix on December 31 (the same day as the worldwide debut of Ghost Stories):

Update: two more titles were added to this batch — Barah Aana (2009) and Shiva (1990).

Streaming Video News: December 15, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of the Excel Entertainment back catalog. Excel’s films were on Netflix years ago before heading to Amazon Prime, and now they’re back on Netflix. Some newer Excel productions like Rock On 2, Fukrey Returns, Gold, and Gully Boy are still on Amazon Prime. So is Baar Baar Dekho, but it expires from Prime on December 18, so it’s probably heading to Netflix, too. Here are all the films added today:

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of the 2019 Tamil release Action.

[Disclaimer: all of my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links.]

Movie Review: Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2018)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota on Netflix
Buy/rent Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota at Amazon or iTunes

By the time most of us reach adulthood, we’ve figured out that society is unfair and you only get as much justice as you can pay for. But what if you grew up without that knowledge? What if you truly believed that you could fight the bad guys and win?

Such is the case for Surya, the hero of Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (“The Man Who Feels No Pain“, MKDNH, henceforth). Born with a congenital insensitivity to pain, young Surya (Sartaaj Kakkar) spends most of his childhood indoors. His father Jatin (Jimit Trivedi) wants to protect his son not just because of his unique condition, but because he’s all that remains of Jatin’s wife (played by Shweta Basu Prasad), who died in a mugging days after Surya’s birth.

Jatin’s father-in-law lives with them, and he too wants to keep his daughter’s memory alive through Surya. Rather than keep the boy wrapped in cotton wool, Grandpa (Mahesh Manjrekar) encourages the boy to emulate his mother’s feisty streak (which we see through flashbacks as Surya imagines the mother he never got to know). Grandpa and grandson binge watch martial arts movies on VHS, with Surya acting out the moves and Grandpa teaching him how other people experience pain, so the boy can disguise his condition to the outside world.

An energetic boy with heroic instincts and an inability to accurately judge risk is a force to be reckoned with. [My nephew is basically Surya with pain sensitivity, so I speak from experience.] When the neighbors deem the 9-year-old wannabe vigilante a menace to society, the family moves away — separating the boy from his tenacious best friend Supriya (Riva Arora) and leaving her at the mercy of her abusive, drunken father.

Fast forward twelve years, and 21-year-old Surya (Abhimanyu Dasani) is ready to head out into the world. His mission is to reunite with “Supri” (Pataakha‘s Radhika Madan) and meet his hero: one-legged martial artist Karate Mani (Gulshan Devaiah). When Karate Mani’s evil twin brother, Jimmy (also Devaiah), steals Mani’s locket, Surya is finally able to put his training to the test — against the pragmatic advice of Supri and Karate Mani himself.

MKDNH is a nostalgic action comedy. It is to martial arts movies of the mid-20th century what Super 8 was to old monster movies. MKDNH‘s stunts are all the funnier for the ways reality intrudes upon them. Surya envisions the way fights will go, only for them to play out in sloppy and un-cinematic ways.

Underneath all the flying fists and high kicks is a touching story about families. Jatin wants to protect Surya physically but emotionally, too, long after Surya has become an adult. There’s a compelling subplot about Supri’s dysfunctional family and whether she will follow her in her mother’s (Lovleen Mishra) footsteps and tolerate abuse for the sake of protecting someone she loves. Mani’s conflict with Jimmy is the continuation of a lifelong battle for their father’s approval.

Yet MKDNH is never maudlin. Writer-director Vasan Bala trusts the audience to feel the story’s emotional weight and connect with the characters while always being an out-and-out comedy. It’s a difficult feat that is executed to perfection.

I don’t think there’s any way to improve upon MKDHN. It feels like the fullest possible realization of Bala’s vision, from the music and costumes to Jay I. Patel’s cinematography and Prerna Saigal’s editing. Every one of the actors is tremendous, with Devaiah and Manjrekar making the most of their delightful supporting characters without overshadowing Madan or Dasani, in his very first film role.

I absolutely loved Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota.

Links

Streaming Video News: December 10, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime because the Yash Raj Films catalog has returned! Thanks so much to Dhaval Shah on Twitter for letting me know! All of the YRF titles from before 2016 expired in September, but they’re back on Prime once again. As a bonus, two YRF titles that weren’t previously available on Prime have been added: Madhuri Dixit’s Aaja Nachle and Vaani Kapoor’s Aaha Kalyanam (the Tamil remake of Band Baaja Baaraat, which itself is sadly not part of the streaming package). [Update: Band Baaja Baaraat was just added to Prime!] Oh, and Jab We Met is back on Prime again, too.

Here are all of the YRF titles just returned to Amazon Prime:

[Disclaimer: all of my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links.]

Streaming Video News: December 9, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the today’s addition of Saif Ali Khan’s October release Laal Kaptaan.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with yesterday’s addition of the Hindi version of Saaho. (Saaho was already available on Amazon Prime in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu.) The Priyanka Chopra Jonas/Farhan Akhtar family drama The Sky Is Pink hits Netflix on December 11.

Over the weekend, the Twitter account Cinema Rare tweeted a thread of Netflix Originals from India coming to the service in the next year or so. The only one with a confirmed release date is the anthology movie Ghost Stories, from the filmmakers behind Bombay Talkies and Lust Stories. It premieres December 31. I found links for nine of the twenty-two Netflix Original movies and series Cinema Rare mentioned, in case you’d like to add them to your Netflix queue:

Streaming Video News: December 6, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of Indian films and shows added in the last several days, including a new season of Inside Edge, available in Hindi with English subtitles (standard and 4K UHD) and English-dubbed (standard and 4K UHD). Recently added 2019 movies include Ardab Mutiyaran (Punjabi), Bharaate (Kannada), and the Bengali titles Dash Mash Dash Diner Galpo and Unish Bish.

I also found thirty Hindi films that will expire from Amazon Prime within the next two weeks. I’ve organized them by expiration date:

December 13

December 14

December 18

[Disclaimer: all of my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links.]

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because Half Girlfriend is back after disappearing for a couple days. Please be excited. The Hindi version of Saaho comes to Netflix on Sunday.

Streaming Video News: December 1, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of seven Punjabi films — including the 2019 releases Guddiyan Patole and High End Yaariyaan — and the romantic comedy The Zoya Factor. The Sonam Kapoor Ahuja-Dulquer Salmaan-starrer didn’t make a splash at the box office, but I thought it was really fun.

Even more intriguing than what was added is what’s on its way to Netflix. The Hindi version of Saaho arrives on December 8, followed by The Sky Is Pink on December 11. It also turns out that Netflix is the new home for the Excel Entertainment back catalog, which left Amazon Prime last week. (More recent releases like Gully Boy will stay on Prime for the foreseeable future.) Netflix was Excel’s original streaming partner about 4 or 5 years ago. We’ve got new web addresses and a confirmed debut date of December 15 for all of the Excel films that haven’t been on Netflix before, including Bangistan, Dil Dhadakne Do, Game, and Karthik Calling Karthik.

While I can’t confirm that the rest of the catalog will definitely return on December 15, here are the addresses for all of the Excel films that were previously on Netflix so that you can add them to your List, just in case:

I also updated list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with about a dozen Indian films added in the last few days, including the 2019 releases The Gambler (Malayalam), Malli Malli Chusa (Telugu), and Ottam (Malayalam).

Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag that may earn me a commission on purchases made via the links.

Streaming Video News: November 27, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of Indian titles added in the last week, including today’s blockbuster addition of the Hrithik Roshan-Tiger Shroff action extravaganza War, one of my favorite movies of the year. War is now available for streaming in Hindi (standard and 4K UHD) and Telugu (standard and 4K UHD). The Hindi version of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is available as well, also in standard and 4K UHD. Other 2019 releases added in the last week include:

It looks like the Excel Entertainment back catalog really is leaving Prime for good on Thursday, November 28. To see a list of all the titles on their way out, scroll past the “Newly Added” section at the top of my Amazon Prime page to find the “Expiring Soon” section, or click here. Bon voyage, Dil Dhadakne Do. [Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag that may earn me a commission on purchases.]

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of two 2019 releases: the Rajeev Khandelwal-starrer Pranaam and the Telugu film Evvarikee Cheppoddu. Twenty Marathi titles are set to expire from Netflix on December 1, as are Shah Rukh Khan’s Deewana and the excellent drama Masaan. (Half Girlfriend is leaving as well, but you don’t want to watch it.) The expiring titles will be replaced on December 1 by seven Punjabi titles, which you can find listed in the “Coming Soon” section near the top of my Netflix page.

Happy Thanksgiving! — Kathy

Opening November 29: Commando 3

Give thanks, for Vidyut Jammwal has returned with Commando 3. Unfortunately, it’s showing hardly anywhere in the Chicago area. The AMC South Barrinton 24 in South Barrington gets it a day early on Thursday, November 28, with the AMC River East 21 in Chicago and MovieMax Cinemas in Niles joining the party on the official release date of Friday, November 29, 2019. Its streaming partner is Zee5, which isn’t available in the United States. I’m devastated.

Bollywood fans have several other theatrical options this Thanksgiving weekend. Pagalpanti gets a second week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Bala hangs around for a fourth week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and the Regal Cantera in Warrenville.

MovieMax holds over Marjaavan and Housefull 4 as well.

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

Manikarnika vs. The Warrior Queen of Jhansi

2019 has seen two theatrical releases about legendary revolutionary Rani Lakshmibai hit North American theaters: Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi and the international production The Warrior Queen of Jhansi. Warrior Queen completed its principal photography almost a year before Manikarnika, yet even with extensive re-shoots, Manikarnika debuted nearly nine months ahead of Warrior Queen. How do these two different versions of the same story compare?

Manikarnika is truly an epic. Its battles are large in scale, with lots of extras and horses and smoky battlefields. Ranaut gets a number of slow-motion shots as Manikarnika rallies her troops and dodges her enemies’ swords. Warrior Queen‘s battles are by contrast drab and sparsely populated, opting for realism over awe-inspiring visuals. The film highlights just how beaten down the British troops and Indian revolutionaries are from years of fighting, so nothing moves especially quickly. It’s an effective choice given what the story wants to emphasize.

The looks of the films are governed by their differing agendas and target audiences. Manikarnika‘s protagonist is depicted as an Indian national hero and martyr. Her glorious battles and fiery rhetoric are meant to stoke the fires of patriotism. With an A-list actress like Ranaut in the lead role and notable supporting actors from various industries, Manikarnika aims to appeal to a wide swath of Indian film fans.

Warrior Queen takes a more global approach. The biggest names in the film are British screen veterans Derek Jacobi, Rupert Everett, and Nathanial Parker, with comparatively unknown Indian-American actress Devika Bhise (who co-wrote the screenplay with her producer-director mother, Swati) in the title role. The story paints Lakshmibai as a progressive feminist pioneer who refused to accept the social limitations of caste and gender while fighting capitalist aggression.

Despite aiming for a wider, less diaspora-dependent audience, Warrior Queen fared much worse than Manikarnika in its opening weekend in North American theaters. Warrior Queen opened in 276 theaters on November 15 and earned $112,208, for an average of $406 per theater. Manikarnika released into just 152 theaters on January 25 but earned $571,130, or $3,757 per theater.

It’s safe to say that The Warrior Queen of Jhansi had quite a bit working against it, coming out less than a year after a big budget Bollywood version of the same story which is currently available for at-home viewing on Amazon Prime. On top of that, the title may not have drawn in the Victoria & Abdul crowd (i.e. white seniors who enjoy British costume dramas) as easily as if it had been called something more generic — maybe “India’s Warrior Queen” or something like that. Would Warrior Queen have fared better with an earlier release date or slightly different title? Maybe. I found both films to be similarly enjoyable given their differing styles and objectives.