Tag Archives: 2017

Bollywood Box Office: July 21-23, 2017

Is it time to question Tiger Shroff’s potential to be star who can carry films internationally? Shroff’s fourth film, the dance flick Munna Michael, went all but unnoticed in its opening weekend in North America. From July 21-23, 2017, Munna Michael earned $64,756 from 73 theaters, averaging $887 per theater. His previous low opening weekend average was $1,360 for last year’s underrated superhero comedy A Flying Jatt, which opened in about the same number of theaters (79). Shroff’s combined total North American earnings for all four of his movies are $744,105.

On the plus side for Shroff, his upcoming projects are more traditional action films, including a sequel to his most successful movie, Baaghi (which earned $437,243 here), as well as a potentially disastrous Rambo remake. Then again, how many fans will be drawn in simply by the genre and not because Shroff’s name is on the marquee?

In its second weekend, Jagga Jasoos earned $117,736 from 106 theaters ($1,111 average), bringing its total to $788,777.

Mom closed out its third weekend with $27,297 from 22 theaters ($1,241 average), for total earnings of $579,077. Also in its third weekend of release, Guest Iin London earned $167 from three theaters ($56 average), bringing its total to $50,813.

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

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Opening July 21: Munna Michael

One new Bollywood movie gets a limited release in the Chicago area on July 21, 2017. Munna Michael stars Tiger Shroff as a dancer who teaches a gangster (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) how to cut a rug.

Munna Michael opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 29 min.

After a slow opening weekend in North America, Jagga Jasoos carries over locally at the South Barrington 24, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Mom gets a third week at MovieMax, Woodridge 18, and South Barrington 24, which also holds over Guest Iin London for one show daily.

In honor of its 15th anniversary, Devdas is showing locally on Sunday, July 23 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the River East 21, Niles 12, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, AMC Dine-In Rosemont 18 in Rosemont (already sold out), AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Movie Review: Jagga Jasoos (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Jagga Jasoos is an ambitious movie that I’d love to rate more highly. There were portions of the film that I liked very much, and I appreciate the world director Anurag Basu built and the way he told his story. Yet Jagga Jasoos is bloated with material and far too long.

Jagga Jasoos opens with a framing device featuring Katrina Kaif’s character Shruti as a children’s entertainer and author of a comic book series about her friend Jagga, a teenage detective. A troop of kids under her direction reenact scenes from the comics, before the action transitions to the world of the books, starting with Jagga’s childhood and his adoption by a man he calls TutiFuti (Saswata Chatterjee, best known to Bollywood fans for playing the unassuming assassin Bob Biswas in Kahaani).

TutiFuti coaches young Jagga to sing as a way to overcome the boy’s stutter, a device that enables Jagga Jasoos to be a traditional musical, with much of the plot and dialogue sung rather than spoken. The movie is punctuated by standalone tunes to accompany dance numbers and montages, with the best of those songs being the forlorn “Phir Wahi.”

TutiFuti is called away on a secret mission by a man known as Blackmail Sinha (Shaurab Shukla), leaving Jagga to grow up alone in a boarding school. By the time he reaches his teenage years, Jagga (now played by Ranbir Kapoor) has developed a knack for solving mysteries.

He stumbles onto an arms-smuggling caper with international implications, involving a journalist — Shruti — and possibly even TutiFuti. Shruti and Jagga travel to Africa to find TutiFuti and uncover the secret mission he’s been on for so many years.

The whimsy factor is high in Jagga Jasoos, not only because of all the singing but because of a visual style reminiscent of director Wes Anderson (whom Jagga Jasoos cinematographer Ravi Varman praises in the Scroll.in interview linked to below). Basu incorporates a number of comparatively low-tech special effects — such as deliberately using obvious stock footage of African animals or showing a plane flying over a map instead of actual land — for a fresh take on retro movie-making. The modern CGI effects that aim for realism and fall short draw more attention to themselves than effects that are intentionally outmoded.

Jagga Jasoos is at its best when Jagga and Shruti are together in his hometown along the border with Myanmar. The town and school have their own charms that help to create an immersive environment. When the duo leave town, they leave that quaintness behind for a plot that is grander in scale but less engrossing.

Removing geographical boundaries frees Basu to inject untold (and unnecessary) amounts of quirkiness into the film, particularly regarding the unseen criminal mastermind Bashir Alexander. By the time Jagga and Shruti board Bashir Alexander’s personal circus train, I had reached my limit.

Disney India would’ve been better off splitting its swan song into two films, a la Baahubali, rather than making one film to serve as both a setup for a hopeful sequel and a catch-all in case box office numbers deem a sequel unwarranted. Forcing Basu to cram as many ideas as possible into one film not only inflates the runtime beyond a reasonable limit, but it cuts short plot development in favor of visual spectacle. I’m still not sure what Blackmail Sinha’s goal was or who he was working for, and the framing device isn’t well explained either. Shruti’s students sing a song about not caring about the world’s troubles because they are protected by a “sign on the door,” but it’s unclear to what they refer.

For all its ambition and innovative ideas, Jagga Jasoos isn’t the movie — or movies — it could have been.

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Bollywood Box Office: July 14-16, 2017

Things didn’t go so well for Jagga Jasoos in North America. From July 14-16, 2017, it earned $482,887 from 210 theaters ($2,299 average). That average barely puts it in the top half of Hindi films for the year here, just behind Tubelight, which was also considered a disappointment. Still, Jagga Jasoos‘s total was good enough to rank in 15th place at the overall US box office for the weekend, and its per-theater average was better than the averages of the movies ranked 8th-14th.

There are numerous reasons to explain why Jagga Jasoos wasn’t a blockbuster here, from the movie’s unique concept to it being a family oriented film opening during peak season for big-budget superhero flicks and animated fare. Jagga Jasoos‘s earnings fall within the expected parameters for recent films featuring its two stars. It earned more than Ranbir Kapoor’s Bombay Velvet in its first weekend but less than his Tamasha; it earned more than Katrina Kaif’s Fitoor but less than her Baar Baar Dekho.

Mom held up great in its second weekend in theaters, retaining nearly 40% of its opening weekend audience. It earned $99,535 from 63 theaters ($1,580 average), bringing its total to $493,245 — already nearly double its opening weekend total of $260,433.

Guest Iin London fared much worse, losing 85% of its opening weekend audience and taking in $4,494 from eight theaters ($562 average). Its total stands at $49,161.

Tubelight closed out its fourth weekend in theaters with earnings of just $200 — $138 from one Canadian theater and $62 from one theater in the US. It has total earnings of $1,575,849.

Source: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening July 14: Jagga Jasoos

Disney India’s final production, Jagga Jasoos, opens in the Chicago area on July 14, 2017. Director Anurag Basu’s detective film reunites former lovers Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif onscreen.

Jagga Jasoos opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Dine-In Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min. [Update: Fandango’s runtime is wrong. Jagga Jasoos is more like 2 hrs. 45 min.]

Mom carries over for a second week at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, River East 21, Cantera 17, Woodridge 18, and South Barrington 24, which also holds over Guest Iin London.

On Saturday night at 7 p.m., MovieMax hosts a live broadcast of the 2017 IIFA Awards.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area over the weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: July 7-9, 2017

Both of the weekend’s new Hindi releases did well in North America relative to the size of their theatrical footprints. From July 7-9, 2017, Mom earned $260,433 from 94 theaters ($2,771 average; adjusted average of $3,339 from 78 theaters*). For context, that’s the twelfth highest opening weekend theater count for a Bollywood film in North America for the year, but the 9th best average and tenth best opening weekend gross.

During the same period, Guest Iin London earned $29,378 from 30 theaters ($979 average; adjusted average of $1,175 from 25 theaters). That’s the same minuscule theater count as Dobaara: See Your Evil, yet Guest Iin London earned four times as much as the horror movie did in its opening weekend.

Other Indian movies still in North American theaters:

  • Tubelight: Week 3; $15,281 from 27 theaters; $566 average; $1,566,474 total
  • Hindi Medium: Week 8; $3,154 from one theater; $792,627 total
  • Baahubali 2: Week 11; $1,162 from one theater; $20,790,774 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.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Mom (2017)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

In a vacuum, Mom is an engaging revenge thriller that fully utilizes its star’s considerable charisma. Yet the film’s very existence raises the question as to whether the genre has exhausted its ability to add to the conversation about rape.

Sridevi plays the titular mother, Devki, a secondary school teacher. She has a young daughter Priya with her husband, Anand (Adnan Siddiqui), who brought another daughter — 18-year-old Arya (Sajal Ali) — with him into the marriage. The strained relationship between stepmother and stepdaughter is exacerbated by the fact that Devki is Arya’s Biology teacher. When a fellow student, Mohit, texts Arya lewd material during class, Devki throws Mohit’s phone out the window.

Arya later rejects Mohit’s advances at a party, so he enlists his sleazy cousin Charles (Vikas Verma), security guard Baburam (Pitobash), and drug dealer Jagan (Abhimanyu Singh) to kidnap her. They gang rape Arya and leave her for dead in a ditch. Upon waking, Arya bitterly tells Devki that the men told her “Call your mom!” during the assault.

When the justice system inevitably fails to convict the men, Devki realizes that her relationship with Arya will be irretrievably broken unless she takes revenge upon them herself. She enlists a private detective named DK (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) to track down the rapists before the lead police officer on Arya’s case, Mathew (Akshaye Khanna), uncovers her scheme.

There’s a lot to like about Mom, chiefly Sridevi, who is most heartbreaking in moments when Devki futilely tries to connect with Arya. Ali, for her part, nails the moody teen role. First-time feature director Ravi Udyawar maximizes Sridevi’s legendary beauty in a number of strikingly composed shots. (Udyawar’s camera direction is less successful in a hard-to-follow chase scene.)

Debutant screenwriter Girish Kohli provides his actors with memorable dialogue, and Khanna and Nawazuddin Siddiqui deliver their lines with style. Adnan Siddiqui gives gravity to a role that requires him to stay in the background in order to keep Sridevi in the spotlight.

Things get tricky when considering whether we need another movie about avenging rape. I’ll concede that living in America my whole life has exposed me to many stories about this topic, both fictional and non-fictional. The Hollywood film The Accused brought the story of justice for a gang rape victim into the mainstream back in 1988. Until recently, many Hindi films treated the rape of a woman as nothing more than a catalyst to provoke a male hero into action. Real-life sexual assaults in India in the last several years have shifted the focus of fictional stories — such as 2016’s Pink — onto the victims themselves.

So while there is still a desire among Indian filmmakers and audiences to confront the horrors of rape, I’m not sure that Mom treads any new ground in doing so. There is a cliched shot of Arya in the shower following the rape, scrubbing her skin so hard that it bleeds. A man is raped in jail and is laughed at for it — as though male rape is less serious than female rape. There’s a belief that the perpetrators deserve punishment that damages their sexual organs, and also a belief that doing so will restore Arya to her former self, at least to some degree.

All of these ideas have been presented so often in movies that we’ve taken them for granted. But are these ideas actually valuable, or do they just feed off the sense of helplessness experienced by bystanders to rape, whether immediate or from afar? Too many films about rape function as a kind of call-to-action fantasy for someone other than the victim — only this fantasy requires someone to suffer in order to bring it to fruition.

Director Udyawar does the right thing by not showing the acts of sexual violence, focusing instead on the aftermath. It removes any chance of such violence being sensationalized or depicted as titillating. He also fairly assumes that the Indian justice system (like the American justice system) is rigged against rape victims. But other than establishing those benchmarks for future filmmakers, Mom covers a lot of familiar territory. It’s a well-made movie, but I’m not sure it’s a story I needed to see again.

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