Tag Archives: 2021

Streaming Video News: December 23, 2021

Christmas 2021 might be one of the busiest periods on streaming video ever, with a mix of new original content and OTT debuts of theatrical releases. Satyameva Jayate 2 — which released in theaters on November 25 — was first out of the gate, dropping on Amazon Prime in the afternoon on December 22.

This afternoon saw the release of two more titles: the OTT debut of Salman Khan’s Antim: The Final Truth on Zee5 and the worldwide launch of the Bollywood romance Atrangi Re — starring Sara Ali Khan, Dhanush, and Akshay Kumar — on Hulu (new home for Hotstar content in the US).

Finally, the new Malayalam superhero flick Minnal Murali premieres on Netflix in the early hours of December 24.

And those are just the Indian movies releasing in time for Christmas. Other December 24 streaming releases that I’m looking forward to include the new Netflix premieres Don’t Look Up and The Silent Sea and the OTT debut of Encanto on Disney+.

If you plan to use the holiday break to catch up on movies you missed this year, Zee5 made a helpful page just for their 2021 releases. You can also check my Bollywood Movies on Netflix, Bollywood Movies on Amazon Prime, and Bollywood Movies on Hulu pages and use the Command-F/Ctrl-F keyboard shortcuts to search for “2021.” When I searched “2021,” it returned 113 entries on my Netflix page, 233 entries on my Prime page, and 168 entries on my Hulu page. That’s a lot to catch up on!

If you’re already up-to-date with this year’s biggest Indian releases, check out the massive 2022 Netflix preview I wrote for What’s on Netflix. There’s a lot of good Indian content to look forward to on Netflix next year!

Have a safe and happy holiday! — Kathy

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: December 17, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premiere of the Original series Decoupled, starring Madhavan and Surveen Chawla. Netflix also added the 2020 Tamil drama Kadaseela Biriyani.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with yesterday’s streaming debut of Bunty Aur Babli 2.

I continue to add titles to my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu. It’ll likely take several more weeks to finish grabbing the data for all of the Hotstar titles in the catalog because Hulu’s interface loads really, really slowly — but progress is being made!

I’m also working on a 2022 preview of Netflix Original movies and series for What’s on Netflix, so stay tuned for that!

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: December 10, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s debut of the new Hindi thriller series Aranyak, starring Raveena Tandon.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with today’s addition of the Telugu film Maa Oori Polimera and the premiere of Season 2 of Sushmita Sen’s Hotstar Special series Aarya, which is available in Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. If you need a quick recap of the events of Aarya Season 1, Madhuri Dixit Nene was helpful enough to provide one:

Finally, I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with yesterday’s debut of the Marathi horror film Bali. Have a great weekend! — Kathy

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: November 19, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premier of the Hindi thriller Dhamaka, starring Kartik Aaryan. The latest Little Singham movie — Samundar Ka Sikandar — also dropped on Netflix today. These could be the last two Indian flicks added to Netflix for the rest of November, with Cobalt Blue not scheduled to arrive until December 3.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with yesterday’s trio of new additions: Adbhutham (Telugu), Cash (Hindi), and Pon Manickavel (Tamil). Hulu has been importing older Hotstar content in other languages, and I’ll work on incorporating those titles into the page over the next couple of weeks.

In a surprise announcement yesterday, Disney (parent company of Hulu and Hotstar) announced that Hotstar will officially cease operation in the United States on November 30, 2021. This is a huge acceleration from the “late 2022” date that was originally announced back when Hotstar’s content was split between Hulu and ESPN+ back in September. By now, all Hotstar subscribers should have received an email offer — and several reminder emails — to upgrade to the Disney Bundle in order to maintain access to Hotstar’s content. I’m guessing this pre-ponement means that enough Hotstar subscribers have made the switch that Disney feels comfortable forcing the remaining holdouts to do so as well.

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a few additions in an otherwise quiet week. Next week will be busier, with the debuts of the Telugu sequel Drushyam 2 on November 25 and the Hindi horror film Chhorii on the 26th.

Streaming Video News: November 5, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premier of the new Hindi romcom Meenakshi Sundareshwar and the addition of the Tamil film Doctor, which is also available in Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu. The 2021 Tamil movie Mughizh lands on Netflix November 6.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with this week’s addition of the Telugu film Gully Rowdy and the Tamil flick MGR Magan (also available in Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu).

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime as well, with the debuts of the new Hindi series Akkad Bakkad Rafu Chakkar (also in 4K UHD) and the courtroom drama Jai Bhim, which is available in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada & Malayalam.

Although Mumbai theaters have officially been open for a couple of weeks, Bollywood’s return to cinemas starts today with the release of Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi. So when can we expect it and other theatrical releases to make their way to streaming services? While the theatrical exclusivity window used to be eight weeks, reports have many upcoming titles coming to streaming after just four weeks — an acknowledgement that a large portion of the audience is still uncomfortable attending showings in theaters. That would see Sooryavanshi coming to Netflix in early December. I list movies’ streaming partners on my Upcoming Bollywood Releases page, so check it to see where films are heading after their theatrical runs wind down.

Happy Diwali! — Kathy

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: September 24, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premiere of Season 2 of Kota Factory. On Wednesday, Netflix debuted its Original Kannada docu-series Crime Patrol: Indian Detectives, which has dubbed audio options in English and Hindi. Other additions from earlier in the week include the late-’90s Tamil films Avvai Shanmughi, Jeans, and Minsara Kanavu.

Nineteen Punjabi movies expire from Netflix on October 1. That’s half of Netflix’s current Punjabi-language catalog. For the full list of all of the Indian titles expiring in October, check out the “Expiring Soon” section near the top of my Netflix page.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with yesterday’s debut of the Tamil film Raame Aandalum Raavane Aandalum.

Today, Amazon announced its festive season lineup of big Indian (and English) titles releasing over the next couple of months. Sardar Udham (Hindi) and Udan Pirappe (Tamil) are set to debut in October, with Jai Bhim (Tamil) coming in November. Release dates for the rest of the titles — including the Malayalam movie Bhramam, Season 2 of One Mic Stand, and Dybbuk, the Hindi remake of the Malayalam film Ezra — have yet to be announced.[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: September 17, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s addition of the Netflix Original film Ankahi Kahaniya, an anthology of three shorts directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Abhishek Chaubey, and Saket Chaudhury. This week also saw the return of the series Dharmakshetra, Raja Rasoi Aur Anya Kahaniyan, and Stories by Rabindranath Tagore.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime because Akshay Kumar’s August theatrical release BellBottom is now available for streaming.

Finally, I finished adding all of the Hotstar content currently available on Hulu in all languages to my new list of Bollywood movies on Hulu. For now, the only sizable movie catalogs are in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, with the Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, and Marathi catalogs consisting almost entirely of “Hotstar Specials” releases. It’s worth noting that dozens of the movies listed as currently streaming in the United States on this list from Hotstar aren’t actually available. We’ll see if they’re added over time.

Today’s new additions to Hulu/Hotstar are the new Telugu movie Maestro and the Tamil film Annabelle Sethupathi, which is also available in dubbed versions in Kannada, Telugu, and Hindi (under the title Annabelle Rathore).

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: August 27, 2021

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s additions of the 2021 Telugu movie Thimmarusu and the first season of the Hindi series Kota Factory (a series Netflix acquired in order to produce a second season). Other new additions include a bunch of returning titles from Balaji Motion Pictures, which had expired from Netflix on November 15, 2020:

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of Indian titles added in the last week — mostly Tamil films released from 2016-2020. Prime also debuted a new Tamil comedy competition series LOL: Enga Siri Paappom, in which comics are challenged not to laugh at each other’s ridiculous antics.

Today, Hotstar launched the new 8-episode historical series The Empire, starring Kunal Kapoor:

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Movie Review: Bhuj — The Pride of India (2021)

1 Star (out of 4)

Watch Bhuj: The Pride of India on Hotstar

Before writing, directing, and producing Bhuj: The Pride of India, Abhishek Dudhaiya directed over 1,000 TV episodes. Perhaps that’s why Bhuj‘s story feels like it would have been better served as a miniseries. Dudhaiya focuses so narrowly on action sequences and requisite patriotic war drama plot points that the film lacks emotional resonance.

Dudhaiya’s screenplay is based on real-life events from the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, when Pakistani bombers destroyed the airstrip at Bhuj Air Force Base. Commanding Officer Vijay Karnik enlisted the help of 300 villagers to rebuild the strip and make it operational again. Other important characters are based on real people as well.

After a brief recap of the events leading up to the war, the story begins with Pakistani leaders devising a plan to distract India’s attention from the fighting in East Pakistan by attacking India’s western border. On December 8, 1971, warplanes from West Pakistan bombard the airstrip at Bhuj. Amidst smoke and explosions, Commanding Officer Vijay Karnik (Ajay Devgn) himself mans anti-aircraft guns to repel the attack, as many of his subordinate soldiers lie wounded around him.

Leading with such a visually dramatic scene isn’t an uncommon screenwriting choice, but it puts Dudhaiya in a bind. By December 8, Pakistan’s bombing of Western military sites had already been underway for several days, forcing the screenplay to flash back to earlier attacks in order to introduce other characters and locations important to the story. There are flashbacks within flashbacks to give characters backstory that further confuse the sequence of events.

Vijay’s storyline has a scene from December 3 — the day Pakistan first started its bombing campaign — that makes a more sensible opener. Vijay and his wife Usha (Pranitha Subhash) celebrate their wedding anniversary at a party with all the base’s officers and their families. Everyone dances, unaware that Pakistani jets are speeding toward them. As the romantic song “Hanjugam” ends, bombs fall on the adjacent airfield, sending civilians scrambling for cover and soldiers running to their posts. The scene establishes the camaraderie among the soldiers at the base and shows us who Vijay is trying to protect.

Sadly, sense of place and character motivation are low on Dudhaiya’s priority list. Other major characters like fighter pilot Vikram Singh Baj (Ammy Virk), Army scout Ranchordas Pagi (Sanjay Dutt), and Army officer Nair (Sharad Kelkar) — tasked to hold a strategic base with too few soldiers — get about 30 seconds of backstory each. At least Sonakshi Sinha’s village leader Sunderben kills a CGI leopard, while spy Heena Rehman (Nora Fatehi) gets a full training montage.

These are all characters that would have benefited from a longer series format, rather than a two-hour movie. Heena’s story is particularly ripe for exploration. She became a mole for India in order to avenge the death of her spy brother at the hands of Pakistani military intelligence head Mohammad Hussain Omani (Pawan Shankar). Heena’s assignment requires her to act as Omani’s girlfriend. How does she feel about having to sleep with the man who murdered her brother? Bhuj doesn’t ask. The only emotion characters are allowed to feel is patriotism.

The film’s priorities are action focused. Besides the bombings and air battles, there are a lot of hand-to-hand fight scenes. Pagi single-handedly kills about 100 men. The emphasis on individual physical prowess makes Bhuj blend in with other hero-centric Hindi films, like those where one honest man cleans up corruption by himself.

All of the action takes place without a sense of geography. Vijay needs to repair Bhuj’s airstrip so that Vikram can land a plane full of reinforcements from Jamnagar who will drive to Vighakot, the base that Nair and Pagi are trying to defend. There’s no sense of how far the bases are from each other, or how close Bhuj is to Sunderben’s village. Characters just show up wherever they need to be whenever they need to be there. Vikram miraculously crash lands within walking distance of his base after a dogfight with a Pakistani fighter plane.

Inscrutable geography is important, because Vijay has less than 24 hours to repair the airstrip. Though onscreen titles consistently show the location name and date when the scene changes, they don’t show the time. There is a ticking clock, but the audience can’t see it.

In real-life, repairs to the airstrip took three days. Adding that to the fact that Pakistani’s bombing campaign lasted over a week reinforces that Bhuj would have made a better series — especially in the hands of a director with no feature film experience but solid TV chops.

Links

  • Bhuj: The Pride of India at Wikipedia
  • Bhuj: The Pride of India at IMDb

Bollywood Box Office: August 19-22, 2021

Akshay Kumar’s period drama BellBottom released into theaters in India and abroad on August 19, 2021, heralding what could be the resumption of regular Hindi theatrical releases (fingers crossed). While cinema restrictions still in place in India limited the film’s earnings potential there, BellBottom‘s North American collections provide some insight into conditions here as well.

According to Bollywood Hungama, BellBottom earned a total of $274,753 from 100 theaters ($2,748 average) in North America in its opening four days. Here’s how those numbers break down by country:

USA – $148,074 from 74 screens = $2,001 average per screen
Canada – $126,679 from 26 screens = $4,872 average per screen

What immediately jumps out is Canada’s contribution of 46% of the total earnings. That’s a really high percentage. But what should we expect from a typical Akshay Kumar movie in North America?

Looking back at Kumar’s four 2019 releases — Kesari, Mission Mangal, Housefull 4, and Good Newwz — here’s what an average opening weekend looked like:

  • 240 theaters — 30 theaters in Canada and 210 in the US
  • $1.1 million total earnings
  • 24% of the earnings from Canada

The amazing thing to me is that the number of theaters showing BellBottom in Canada is about what you’d expect it to be in non-COVID times. (Mission Mangal also opened in 26 theaters.) Compare that to BellBottom opening in about 1/3 of the theaters it would have in the United States, and you can see two very different theatrical landscapes at present.

So what does this mean for other Bollywood movies on the release calendar? Temper your expectations for what you can earn in North America. While earnings in Canada are well below what one would expect under pre-COVID conditions, the country’s theater landscape is downright robust compared to the anemic earnings and small footprint available to Hindi films in the US. BellBottom‘s $2,748 per-screen average is respectable compared to Hollywood theatrical releases right now, but that’s for a highly anticipated film from a marquee star. A smaller movie like Chehre will earn much, much less. I suspect it’s going to be a while before the US is again a big contributor to a Hindi film’s box office haul.