Tag Archives: 2019

In Theaters: July 19, 2019

No new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area the weekend beginning July 19, 2019. After a lackluster opening weekend, Super 30 carries over for a second week at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Article 15 gets a fourth week at MovieMax, South Barrington, and Cantera.

Kabir Singh hangs on for a fifth week at MovieMax, South Barrington, and the AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont.

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


Bollywood Box Office: July 12-14, 2019

Super 30 went for a huge release in North America but came up short at the box office. From July 12-14, 2019, the biographical drama earned $870,726 from 317 theaters ($2,747 average), according to Box Office Mojo. That’s the second biggest opening weekend theater count here this year — just three theaters fewer than Kalank. Yet Kalank made $1.27 million in its opening weekend and averaged $3,989 per theater. In fact, Super 30 is the only Hindi film to open in more than 250 theaters here this year and not earn at least $1 million, and it’s the only release among the eleven highest earners to average less than than $3,000 per theater.

While reaching a final total of $2 million won’t be a walk in the park, Super 30 has two things working in its favor. No major new Hindi movies are opening here this weekend, during which much of the United States will experience dangerously hot temperatures, making theaters an especially appealing entertainment option.

Kabir Singh continued its strong run, earning $120,467 from 58 theaters ($2,077 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. It’s only the third film this year to earn six figures in its fourth weekend of release (of the sixteen titles that lasted that long). It has total earnings so far of $2,364,342.

Article 15 also performed well, finishing its third weekend with $76,314 from 41 theaters ($1,861 average) and bringing its total to $973,076.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Photograph: Week 9; $1,363 from three theaters; $454 average; $350,475 total
  • Bharat: Week 6; $385 from one theater; $2,921,228 total
  • Malaal: Week 2; $39 from two theaters; $20 average; $3,668 total

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, and Box Office Mojo

Opening July 12: Super 30

Hrithik Roshan plays mathematician Anand Kumar in the biographical drama Super 30, opening in Chicago area theaters July 12, 2019.

Super 30 opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Round Lake Beach in Round Lake Beach, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and AMC Crestwood 18 in Crestwood. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

Article 15 gets a third week at the South Barrington 24, Cantera, and MovieMax, which also holds over Malaal for a second week. All three theaters carry over Kabir Singh, as does the AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont.

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

Bollywood Box Office: July 5-7, 2019

Malaal opened in North American theaters, and no one noticed. Okay — about 300 people noticed, based on the average price of a movie ticket. From July 5-7, 2019, Malaal made $2,711 from 16 theaters ($169 average), according to Bollywood Hungama.

Independence Day weekend was much better for Article 15 and Kabir Singh. In its second weekend of release, Article 15 took in $186,626 from 76 theaters ($2,456 average) — a first-to-second weekend holdover of almost 50%. The thriller has earned $795,409 so far. Kabir Singh earned $239,593 from 92 theaters ($2,604 average) in its third weekend of release, bringing its total to $2,069,812.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North America:

  • Photograph: Week 8; $3,044 from one theater; $346,330 total
  • Bharat: Week 5; $2,779 from five theaters; $556 average; $2,920,037 total

Sources: 143 Cinema and Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Luka Chuppi (2019)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at Amazon or iTunes

“I go to the gym. I am lean.
You speak to me like a machine.
You say that you watch Scooby-Dooby Doo.
Let it be, Don’t have to say I love you.”
— “Coca Cola Tu”, lyrics by Tony Kakkar and Mellow D or a random word generator

The romantic comedy Luka Chuppi (“Hide and Seek“) tries to appeal to a youthful demographic, but its story is stale.

Small town reporter Guddu (Kartik Aaryan) falls in love at first sight with Rashmi (Kriti Sanon), a new intern at Guddu’s cable station. Rashmi wants to wait on marriage until she’s established her own journalism career in Delhi, but she’s willing to try out a live-in relationship with Guddu first. Traditional Guddu balks at the idea, not least of all because a local conservative Hindu political party — led by Rashmi’s father, Vishnu (Vinay Pathak) — is waging a crusade against couples dating or living together before marriage.

A reporting assignment in another town gives Rashmi and Guddu the chance to cohabitate in secret, at the encouragement of the station’s cameraman, Abbas (Aparshakti Khurana, who was great in Stree). When their new neighbors get suspicious, the couple pretends that they are already married — a lie that spirals out of control once their families get wind of it.

Luka Chuppi is written in the chauvinistic tradition that insists on having a male “main” character, rather than true co-leads (hence why Aaryan gets first billing in the credits even though Sanon is a bigger star). The story is set in Guddu’s world, populated by his friends, enemies, and extended family. Though Rashmi is from the same town, she’s treated as an outsider, returned from Delhi to a hometown in which she mysteriously knows no one except her father, his toady, and her mother, whose face is covered in every shot save one.

Even on his home turf, Guddu is the least-active participant in the story. Abbas offers almost all the answers to every ridiculous new problem the couple faces while Guddu stares silently. Guddu undergoes very little character growth, written as he is in the mold of Bollywood male protagonists who are inherently flawless to begin. As such, the obstacles on the couple’s path don’t force them to evolve, making the march to their inevitable happy ending feel increasingly ponderous.

Guddu’s position as the story’s fulcrum would be hard to embrace even with a more talented actor in the role, but Aaryan isn’t up to the challenge. He seems unsure what to do with his face, maintaining the same bland expression no matter what reaction is required, and his voice has a strange, hollow affect as well. Aaryan’s whole performance seems like a lackadaisical Akshay Kumar impression.

Aaryan and Sanon have zero chemistry, although she has a delightful rapport with Khurana. When the three are in scenes together, Aaryan is an obvious weak link. It’s a shame that a romance between Rashmi and Abbas is precluded outright by his being Muslim, but Luka Chuppi is clearly a one-issue movie, and interfaith romance isn’t it.

As is his wont, Pankaj Tripathi steals every scene he’s in as Guddu’s tacky, lascivious brother-in-law, Babulal, who wants to mess up Guddu’s relationship with Rashmi. If the movie were nothing but shots of Babulal snooping about in his absurd attire, it would be an improvement.

That still wouldn’t solve the film’s biggest problem, which is that there is zero chance that Guddu and Rashmi will break up once they decide to get together (which Rashmi does out of the blue after a song montage). Luka Chuppi‘s message is that young people would like their parents to stop freaking out about live-in relationships, but the film’s presentation of the live-in relationship as a trial run for marriage is moot if the subsequent marriage is mandatory — which is why the movie has no narrative tension. Luka Chuppi is a polite request for open-mindedness, not a demand.


Opening July 5: Malaal

Malaal — a remake of the 2004 Tamil romantic comedy 7G Rainbow Colony — is the only new Hindi film releasing in the Chicago area on July 5, 2019. It stars newcomers Sharmin Segal and Meezaan Jaffrey and opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles.

Article 15 carries over for a second week at MovieMax, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera in Warrenville. All three theaters hold over Kabir Singh, as do the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

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

Bollywood Box Office: June 28-30, 2019

Article 15 had a nice opening weekend in North America. From June 28-30, 2019, the award-winning drama earned $386,920 from 104 theaters ($3,720 average), according to Bollywood Hungama.

Meanwhile, Kabir Singh continued its super run for a second weekend, taking in $451,411 from 144 theaters ($3,135 average). It held onto about 70% of its opening weekend business, making it one of only five Hindi movies to hold onto more than 50% it their opening weekend business here this year so far. Kabir Singh‘s total currently stands at $1,540,044.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Bharat: Week 4; $18,385 from 19 theaters; $968 average; $2,907,118 total
  • Photograph: Week 7; $951 from two theaters; $476 average; $342,816 total
  • Game Over: Week 3; $293 from three theaters; $98 average; $146,044

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Opening June 28: Article 15

Following its world premiere at the London Indian Film Festival, Ayushmann Khurrana’s crime thriller Article 15 opens in Chicago area theaters on June 28, 2019.

Article 15 opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hours.

After a very good opening weekend, Kabir Singh adds theaters in its second weekend of release. As of Friday, it will show in all three of the above theaters, plus the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Bharat holds over for a fourth week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

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

Movie Review: Music Teacher (2019)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Music Teacher on Netflix

Music Teacher is a melancholy exploration of the consequences of blowing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Beni (Manav Kaul) is a middle-aged vocal instructor and part-time lounge singer in Shimla, where he lives with his mother Madhavi (Neena Gupta) and younger sister Urmi (Niharika Lyra Dutt). He dreamed of being a playback singer for the movies, but his father’s death called him back from Mumbai years ago, before he could land any film gigs.

Adding salt to Beni’s still-open wound is the success of one of his former students, Jyotsna (Amrita Bagchi), who herself is now a popular playback singer. Beni must confront his jealousy and anger toward her when Jyotsna returns to Shimla for a concert after eight years in Bollywood.

But is the story Beni’s been telling himself about Jyotsna’s fame and their falling out true, or does he view the past through a lens that paints her as the villain (corroborated by his mother’s hostility toward her)? He reexamines the narrative as he tells it to his new neighbor, Geeta (Divya Dutta), a lonely wife who’s been ditched by her husband and banished to Shimla to care for her ailing father-in-law.

The present and past timelines in Music Teacher are differentiated by the color of Beni’s sideburns: black in the past, grey in the present. It’s subtle and easy to miss at first. Beni himself was more upbeat when he first meet Jyotsna, as opposed to the terse curmudgeon he’s become since she left. Their relationship was about more than music, but both had different dreams for the future.

Beni’s challenge is to realize how his own actions led him to his present unhappy state, and then either chart a new course or find a way to accept things the way they are. He’s spent his whole life waiting for his big break, thinking it could only come in the form of a show business career. He never considered that loving Jyotsna could be a life-changing opportunity in its own right.

Kaul plays Beni as more sad than angry, although the sense of having been wronged is what keeps him in stasis. Kaul convincingly portrays Beni as a decent guy who blew his big chance and never learned how to cope with it.

Bagchi is touching as Jyotsna, both in flashbacks as a young woman desperate for love and in an impactful present-day sequence in which she hints that the lessons she’s learned have been hard won.

While Jyotsna embodies all of Beni’s opportunities lost, Dutta’s Geeta represents the idea of accepting life’s hardships and finding pleasure where one can. Were Beni further along in his emotional journey, maybe he and Geeta could be happy together, damaged but at least not alone.

Though Music Teacher‘s story focuses on Beni’s growth, there’s an interesting theme about the lack of control women have over their own lives. Geeta is the most obvious example, fulfilling the edicts of a husband who lives in a distant city and no longer loves her. But Beni himself has undue influence over the lives of the women in his family. He selects a groom for his sister Urmi, and while we can assume that he wouldn’t make her marry against her will, he clearly has veto power when it comes to groom choice. Beni’s insistence forces Jyotsna to make a choice she doesn’t want to, and the repercussions destroy their relationship.

The men in Music Teacher don’t deserve the power they have. Geeta’s husband — who doesn’t even appear onscreen — is a bad guy for ditching her and offloading the care of his sick father onto her. Beni is guilty of myopic self-interest and a tragic lack of foresight, and loneliness is the consequence. Music Teacher is a big improvement over writer-director Sarthak Dasgupta’s first film, 2007’s The Great Indian Butterfly. There’s a lot to relate to and appreciate about this cautionary tale.


Streaming Video News: June 25, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with sixteen newly added Indian films, including the 2019 releases Nedunalvaadai (Tamil), Romantic Criminals (Telugu), and Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam (Malayalam). The Amazon Prime Video India Twitter account published a list of Indian films coming to Prime in July as part of Amazon’s extended Prime Day promotions. Be on the lookout for Kalank on July 1.