Tag Archives: 2017

Opening November 17: Tumhari Sulu

Vidya Balan plays a housewife-turned-radio-host in the comedy Tumhari Sulu, hitting Chicago area theaters November 17, 2017.

Tumhari Sulu opens Friday at the AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Ittefaq carries over for a third week at the Cantera 17, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, and South Barrington 24, which also holds over Qarib Qarib Singlle. Secret Superstar gets a fifth week at the South Barrington 24, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and MovieMax, which gives a fifth week to Golmaal Again as well.

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

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Bollywood Box Office: November 10-12, 2017

Qarib Qarib Singlle had a good opening weekend for a movie in somewhat limited release, but it wasn’t able to fend off a strong second weekend by Ittefaq. From November 10-12, 2017, Qarib Qarib Singlle earned $126,268 from 61 North American theaters ($2,070 average; adjusted average of $2,428 from 52 theaters*). Ittefaq bested that total with $152,956 from 66 theaters ($2,318 average; adjusted average of $3,122 from 49 theaters), bringing its total earnings after ten days to $563,374. Ittefaq‘s Weekend-1-to-Weekend-2 retention rate of 53% is fifth best for the year.

Secret Superstar finished third among Hindi films in North America for the weekend, earning $105,179 from 73 theaters ($1,441 average), enough to nudge its overall total across the $2 million mark to $2,051,162. Golmaal Again was next, with $66,612 from 58 theaters ($1,148 average). Golmaal Again has a comfortable lock on third place for the year so far — trailed by Secret Superstar in fourth — with total earnings of $2,292,508.

One theater in the United States carried Chefnow available on Heera! — earning $207 and bringing the movie’s North American total to $94,374.

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice 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

Opening November 10: Qarib Qarib Singlle

One new Hindi film opens in the Chicago area on November 10, 2017, and no, I didn’t make a typo in the title. Irrfan Khan and Parvathy explore their past loves in Qarib Qarib Singlle (“Almost Single“).

Qarib Qarib Singlle opens Friday at the AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 5 min.

Secret Superstar gets a fourth week at all of the above theaters, plus the AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Ittefaq and Golmaal Again carry over at the South Barrington 24 and Cantera 17.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Book Review: Bollywood Kitchen (2017)

Author, screenwriter, and producer Sri Rao just released a new book called Bollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films. Trust me: you want this book.

Bollywood Kitchen is organized as a dinner-and-a-movie entertainment guide. Rao chooses one of his favorite recent Hindi films and pairs it with entrées and sides designed to complement one another–and the movie. For example, Kaahani‘s entry features recipes for kati rolls, which originated in Calcutta, where the movie is set. The meal for the family film Chillar Party consists of Rao’s take on fish sticks and healthy vegetables with a kid-friendly twist.

The first thing you’ll notice about Bollywood Kitchen is how extraordinarily colorful it is. Rao’s publishers secured the rights to use images from all of the films he mentions, so the book is full of amazing posters and stills. On top of that, the food is beautifully photographed.

One of the many gorgeous movie stills featured in Bollywood Kitchen.

The second thing you’ll notice is the effort Rao put into making his ideas for dinner-and-a-movie night doable. The films he selected are generally available on streaming services or for rent or purchase from places like iTunes. My public library has nineteen of the twenty-two films featured available on DVD or Blu-ray. For each entry in the book, Rao suggests three similar movies also worth checking out.

Rao’s recipes are easy to execute, as well. It’s clear that his goal is to get his readers cooking, while leaving them with enough time and energy left to actually enjoy the movies. Chickpea dishes use canned beans, not dry beans that need to be soaked for hours. Rao suggests time-savers like using pre-cut squash from the grocery store.

The very first recipe in Bollywood Kitchen requires zero cooking skills. Rao’s “Bollywood Popcorn” puts a spicy twist on a movie-night staple, and all that’s required is mixing together some common pantry spices to make a topping for do-it-yourself microwave popcorn in a paper lunch bag. The novelty of the lunch bag alone was worth it to me (not to mention it tasted great).

Using ingredients found in most American homes plays an important role in the story of Bollywood Kitchen. As he mentions in the book’s introduction, Rao was born and raised in small-town Pennsylvania to Indian parents who moved to the United States in the late 1950s. Decades before the internet made accessing products from around the globe a snap, Indian-American home cooks had to get creative, adapting their family recipes to use ingredients easily found in major grocery stores. This often meant using spices common in Mexican food — such as cayenne in place of Indian red chilli powder — or substituting ground beef for hard-to-find mutton.

These aren’t necessarily dishes that would be served in a restaurant, so the only way to taste them is with an invitation to someone’s home. Now that Indian ingredients are more accessible, I wonder if Indian-American home cooks have adjusted their recipes or if they’ve stuck with the recipes they used in the decades before the internet? Whatever the case, Rao’s description of his upbringing gave me greater insight into the lives of my high school classmates and the compromises their parents made to fit into an America that was not nearly as interested in diversity as it is today.

Confession time: I am not a good cook. I’m a good baker, but the idea of being responsible for dinner stresses me out. My wonderful husband, Greg, has handled most of the cooking in our household for the last dozen years, for which he has my eternal gratitude. Nevertheless, I actually made a couple of the dishes from Bollywood Kitchen, and they turned out great!

I chose two recipes crafted to accompany the gripping thriller NH10 — Northern Indian fare that one might find in the region where the movie is set. I started with something in my wheelhouse: kheer. Rao warns that Indian desserts can be quite sweet, so I only used about two-thirds of the recommended amount of sweetened condensed milk. The resulting dish was perfectly sweet (to my taste) and had a wonderful creamy texture, slightly thinner than American-style rice pudding.

One word of caution is that most of Rao’s recipes are designed to feed from four to six people, and with generous portions at that. I wound up eating more kheer in a week than one human should reasonably consume, not that I’m complaining.

The other dish I made was Rao’s chana masala, and it was amazing. The spicy chickpeas make for a hearty vegetarian entrée, especially when accompanied by naan. Greg and I have vowed to make it one of our go-to dishes; it’s that tasty. If someone with as limited a skillset in the kitchen as I have can make something as delicious as this chana masala, the recipe has to be good.

The cherry on top is that Rao has wonderful taste in movies. Almost all of the films featured in Bollywood Kitchen — big hits like Kapoor & Sons and gems like Haider — wound up on my “Best Of” lists for their respective release years. As the producer of New York and Badmaash Company and the writer of Baar Baar Dekho, Rao has enough experience in the film industry to know a good flick when he sees one.

Bollywood Kitchen is a must-have book for hardcore Hindi-film fans, but the movies featured offer a great introduction for any Bollywood newbies. The recipes themselves suit those new to cooking Indian dishes at home, although even those who prepare Indian food regularly will appreciate the meal-planning that Rao’s done. This really is a terrific book. Get it here.

Bollywood Box Office: November 3-5, 2017

Ittefaq faced stiff competition from Secret Superstar and Golmaal Again but still came out on top in North America during the weekend of November 3-5, 2017. According to Bollywood Hungama, the murder mystery earned $286,401 from 84 theaters ($3,410 average). As usual, that theater number counts Canadian theaters twice, putting the actual theater count at 67, thus making the average $4,275 (thanks to Gitesh Pandya from Box Office Guru for confirming the theater count). Box Office Mojo reports a slightly higher total of $298,032. It’s the 17th best opening weekend performance of the year, even though Ittefaq only ranks 26th in terms of opening weekend theater counts (using Bollywood Hungama’s figures).

Secret Superstar finished in second place among Hindi films in North America over the weekend, earning $214,141 from 112 theaters ($1,912 average). That’s the second-best third-weekend total for the year, behind only Baahubali 2. Secret Superstar‘s total earnings of $1,870,880 rank it in seventh place for the year, but by the time of this post’s publication, Secret Superstar will have already pushed past Toilet: Ek Prem Katha into sixth place. It’d be fun to see this earn enough to become the sixth Hindi/multi-lingual Indian film of 2017 to earn more than $2 million in North America.

Speaking of $2 million movies, Golmaal Again just became one. Weekend earnings of $178,191 from 130 theaters ($1,371 average) helped Golmaal Again lock up third place for the year with a total of $2,162,962.

The only other Hindi film showing in the United States over the weekend was Ribbon, which debuted with the worst opening-weekend average of the year so far, worse even than Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai‘s $156 per-theater average. According to Sumit Chadha, Ribbon earned $1,585 from 12 theaters for an average of $132 per theater. Yikes. Just…yikes. Update: Ribbon‘s total was revised upward to $1,639, raising its average to $137.

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

Movie Review: Ittefaq (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

A detective distills the truth from two conflicting narratives in Ittefaq (“Coincidence“), a fun, stylish thriller with a killer soundtrack.

The detective, Dev (Akshaye Khanna), is summoned from his sleep to an apartment belonging to a lawyer, Shekhar, who lies dead on the floor. Shekhar’s wife, Maya (Sonakshi Sinha), flagged down a police car, claiming a stranger, Vikram (Sidharth Malhotra), killed her husband. It so happens that they police are looking for Vikram as a suspect in the death of his own wife, Katherine (Kimberly Louisa McBeath).

Melancholy Vikram offers a different version of events, denying responsibility for either death. He further implicates Maya for acting suspicious when he knocked on her door asking for help following a car accident. Dev explains to one of his deputies, “I just feel like there are three sides to this story: Vikram’s, Maya’s, and the truth.”

Because Vikram is a famous author and a British resident, Dev’s superior gives him three days to charge the man or let him go. Dev’s digging turns up further secrets that Maya and Vikram would rather stay hidden, but are they really connected to the case or are they distractions? How much of this case really is a matter of coincidence?

Writer-director Abhay Chopra’s story keeps a steady tempo, wasting little time in a movie that clocks in well under two hours long. Much of the film takes place at night or in dingy jail cells, and even daytime scenes are dimmed by the monsoon. Cinematographer Michal Luka uses the darkness to great effect.

The real star of the Ittefaq is the superb score by American composer BT, hooking the audience from the movie’s opening car chase sequence. The music pulses as Maya tells her version of events, the soundtrack keeping viewers as off-balance as Maya feels in the presence of a dangerous stranger.

Both Malhotra and Sinha have good poker faces as they change their characters to the story’s demands, from grieving spouses when stating their own cases to the police to villains in each other’s flashbacks.

Ittefaq doesn’t work unless Khanna’s performance is spot on, and thankfully it is. He sidesteps common movie-detective traps like excessive yelling or quirkiness in a way that avoids drawing too much attention to Dev, despite him being the character with the most screentime. It would be fun to see Dev helm a series of murder mysteries, perhaps with even more input from his astute wife (played by Mandira Bedi).

It’s nice to see a Hindi movie where the cops aren’t depicted as heartless monsters or incompetent fools, for a change. Any mistakes the officers under Dev make are honest ones. Ittefaq is pretty heavy on police procedural elements, for fans of that subgenre. For everyone else, it’s just a well-made movie that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

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Opening November 3, 2017: Ittefaq and Ribbon

Two smaller releases throw their hats into the ring following two weeks of Diwali blockbuster dominance. The multiple-perspective murder mystery Ittefaq — starring Sonakshi Sinha, Sidharth Malhotra, and Akshaye Khanna — opens in 67 North American theaters on November 3, 2017, including three theaters in the Chicago area.

Ittefaq opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a tantalizingly brief runtime of 1 hr. 40 min.

Also new at MovieMax this Friday is the romantic drama Ribbon, starring Kalki Koechlin and Sumeet Vyas. It has a similarly short runtime of 1 hr. 46 min.

Secret Superstar gets a third week at all three of the above theaters, plus the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Golmaal Again also holds over for a third week at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and Woodridge 18.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend: