Tag Archives: Aakrosh

Streaming Video News: April 27, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a bunch of recent additions to the catalog. The new batch includes a few Tamil and Marathi films and some Hindi-dubbed titles, but most are Hindi movies. I’ve only seen a few of them, including Aakrosh (which I found really accessible for an international audience), Kidnap (which had its moments), and Jail (which stunk). Here are the rest of the new Hindi films (for all other titles, check the “Newly Added” section at the top of my Amazon Prime page):

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix to include the surprise addition of three older Shah Rukh Khan movies: Main Hoon Na, Paheli,and Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.

Best Bollywood Movies of 2010

After reviewing my lists of the best Hindi movies for 2008 and 2009, I’m convinced that 2010 was Bollywood’s best year among the three. Of the approximately fifty Hindi movies I reviewed this year, here are my picks for the top films of the year. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

Some movies are worth seeing just for the stunning visuals, like the updated epic Raavan — which takes place primarily outdoors amid stunning natural beauty — and Guzaarish, which paints a personal struggle in super-saturated blues.

Politics set the stage for many of the strongest dramas, including the action-packed Aakrosh, the historical epic Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey and dynastic thriller Raajneeti.

Other, grittier dramas like Udaan and Striker featured smaller stories personal growth under the direst of circumstances.

2010’s best romantic comedies also had an earnest tone, featuring complex, realistic female leads in Anjaana Anjaani and Break Ke Baad.

Another romance, The Japanese Wife, deserves an honorable mention. It tells the story of two pen pals — one a Japanese woman and the other a man from Bengal — who fall in love through letters written in beginner’s English. Because it’s not in Hindi, it’s not in the running for best Bollywood movie, but I heartily recommend it.

The two best Hindi movies of 2010 defy easy classification. Part drama, part comedy, part romance and part adventure, they represent cinematic storytelling at its most complete. Both movies are less than two-hours long, emphasizing that it’s the quality of the story, not the length of its runtime, that makes a fulfilling cinematic experience.

Ishqiya features memorable performances by Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin Shah as a widow and a pair of petty thieves trying to pull off a heist. The story is simple but compelling, and the performances make it shine. It’s a remarkable effort from debutant director Abhishek Chaubey.

The movie that has stuck with me more than any other is Road, Movie. After playing at international festivals in 2009, it opened in limited release in the U.S. in May of 2010. I caught it during its short run on On Demand. It tells the story of a city guy who drives a dilapidated truck across the desert, meeting strange companions along the way and learning the secret history of the truck: it was once a mobile movie theater.

Road, Movie is so charming and engaging that it briefly made me believe that I could make a career of driving a truck though rural India, projecting old movies onto the sides of buildings for grateful villagers (never mind that there are few things in the world I’m less qualified to do, and the need for the service is shrinking). The film embodies the escapism that cinema provides and inspires us to dream improbable dreams.

Road, Movie isn’t the easiest film to find in the U.S. — it’s not yet available on Netflix or Amazon (though my local public library has three copies) — so seize the chance to watch it when you can. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

Previous Best Movies Lists

Movie Review: Aakrosh (2010)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

When watching a Hindi movie, I often consider whether someone who has never seen a Bollywood movie before would enjoy it. To someone who likes romances, I’d recommend Love Aaj Kal; for a fan of family-friendly sports movies, I’d suggest Chak De India. But I think Aakrosh might have the widest appeal to American filmgoers (adults only, as there is some graphic violence).

Aakrosh‘s biggest selling point is its construction. It’s a well-paced thriller in which the lead characters — who truly grow over the course of the film — are placed in a difficult situation that becomes terrifying as the story progresses. The familiar format accommodates a few musical numbers that identify Aakrosh as distinctly Indian, though they do make the movie a tad long.

What adds to Aakrosh‘s appeal is that it deals with a topic unfamiliar to many Americans: honor killings. When honor killings make the news in the United States, they typically involve a young woman murdered by her own family for an act perceived as shameful. Aakrosh presents another side of the practice, in which suitors are killed in order to force a young woman into a political marriage approved by her family.

The story’s heroes are Siddhant (Akshaye Khanna) and Pratap (Ajay Devgan), two investigators sent to learn the whereabouts of three Delhi medical students who disappeared from a village two months earlier. Siddhant, also from Delhi, is the lead investigator who assumes this case will proceed as smoothly as his previous cases have. Pratap knows from having grown up in the area that Siddhant’s rule-of-law methods won’t work in Jhanjhar.

There’s a corrupt local system of governance built on the caste system that exists, despite Delhi edicts declaring castes obsolete. The police, politicians and business owners conspire to keep lower-caste, working-class villagers on the fringes of society. Those who aspire to rise above their station frequently disappear. When Siddhant asks the villagers how it’s possible that no one saw the three students, an old man replies, “We are alive because we are blind.”

Pratap is all too familiar with the caste-based politics that separated him from his former flame, Geeta (Bipasha Basu), many years earlier. Geeta is now married to the corrupt and uncooperative police chief, played with sleazy aplomb by Paresh Rawal. Unhappy Geeta knows better than to let her violent husband see her talking to the feds.

Siddhant and Pratap finally get a break in the case through sheer luck, since no one will help them. Their lives become more imperiled as they get closer to the truth about the missing young men. Siddhant is slow to admit that his by-the-book approach won’t work, and that Pratap’s method of hardball may be the only way to get justice.

The atmosphere in Aakrosh is intense. Siddhant and Pratap are surrounded by enemies, always under surveillance. Even those who aren’t their enemies won’t risk their lives for two outsiders, giving the movie a feeling that’s simultaneously lonely and claustrophobic.

Action scenes are refreshingly low-tech, relying more on parkour-style chases and fistfights than CGI special effects. The absence of cell phones and high-tech weaponry is appropriate for the remote setting. We’ve grown so accustomed to seeing slick gunmen in movies that a machete-wielding mob somehow seems much scarier.

Aakrosh, while both modern and foreign, will feel familiar to fans of old Hollywood thrillers. Siddhant’s feeling of futility in the face of a corrupt social order will appeal to fans of the TV series The Wire. It’s also a good chance to catch lovely Bipasha Basu before she makes her Hollywood debut in Roland Joffé’s Singularity next year.

Links

Opening October 29: Walkaway

No new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area this weekend, but an independent American feature about South Asian couples hits screens on Friday, October 29, 2010. Walkaway is a drama about four male friends in New York struggling to balance the needs of their romantic partners with the wishes of their parents back in India.

Walkaway opens in the Chicago area at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. Click here for a nationwide theater listing. The English-language movie has a runtime of 1 hr. 37 min.

There are still plenty of Bollywood movies commanding screenspace in Chicago area theaters this weekend. Jhootha Hi Sahi gets a second week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30. Of last weekend’s other new releases, both the Hindi and Telugu versions of Rakht Charitra get another week at the Golf Glen 5, while Hisss does not.

Older releases still in theaters include Aakrosh at the South Barrington 30, Anjaana Anjaani at both South Barrington and the Cantera 30, and Enthiran (aka Robot) at South Barrington, Cantera, Golf Glen, and Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Other Indian movies showing in the area include Bava (Telugu), Brindaavanam (Telugu) and Pranchiyettan and the Saint (Malayalam) at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas is also showing Brindaavanam.

Opening October 22: Jhootha Hi Sahi, Rakht Charitra and Hisss

This weekend presents a feast for Bollywood fans, with three new movies opening in the Chicago area. The movie getting the widest release is the romantic comedy Jhootha Hi Sahi, which stars John Abraham as a man who talks a woman out of committing suicide after she mistakenly dials his phone number.

Jhootha Hi Sahi opens on Friday, October 22, 2010 at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

Both of this weekend’s other new Hindi releases are scheduled to open in the Chicago area only at the Golf Glen 5. First is part one of director Ram Gopal Varma’s two-part biography of the life of Paritala Ravindra: Rakht Charitra. The Golf Glen 5 will carry both the Hindi and Telugu versions of Rakht Charitra.

I’m surprised and disappointed that this weekend’s other new Hindi film, Hisss, wasn’t released in any local theaters besides the Golf Glen 5. The horror movie — which stars Mallika Sherawat as a nagi, a fantastical human-snake deity — is written and directed by David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer Lynch, who directed the oddly compelling Boxing Helena in 1993.

If you need to catch up on some older releases, Aakrosh gets a second week at the South Barrington 30. Anjaana Anjaani — which has earned $827,303 in the U.S. so far — carries over at the South Barrington 30, Cantera 30 and AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago. And Enthiran carries on in its various forms at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, Cantera 30 and Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include the Telugu movies Brindaavanam and Khaleja at the Golf Glen 5 and Sathyam Cinemas.

Opening October 15: Aakrosh and Knock Out

Two new Hindi movies hit Chicago area screens on Friday, October 15, 2010. Aakrosh stars Ajay Devgan and Akshaye Khanna as detectives investigating the disappearance of three college students in a small town troubled by caste politics. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

Knock Out, starring Sanjay Dutt and Irrfan Khan, purports to be a real-time thriller that takes place in just two hours, yet the movie has a runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min. It also bears a strong resemblance to the Hollywood thriller Phone Booth, itself inspired by the movie Liberty Stands Still.

Both Aakrosh and Knock Out open on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington.

Having earned a total of $726,271 in the U.S. so far, the edgy romantic comedy Anjaana Anjaani gets a third week at the South Barrington 30, AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville.

Sci-fi epic Enthiran also enters its third week in theaters. The Golf Glen 5 continues to program the Tamil and Telugu versions, while the South Barrington 30 carries the Hindi version, Robot. The Cantera 30 will carry Enthiran starting on Friday.

Other Indian movies showing around Chicagoland include Brindaavanam (Telugu), Khaleja (Telugu) and Shikkar (Malayalam) at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove is also carrying Brindaavanam.