With an increased amount of traffic to my website in the last couple of weeks, I thought I should give a quick explainer of how Access Bollywood operates for anyone new to the site. First of all, welcome newcomers! I update my lists of Indian movies on Netflix and Indian movies on Amazon Prime every day with new additions to the catalogs and info on upcoming releases and expiration dates, when available. I used to take weekends off, but I’m switching to a 7-day-a-week schedule for the foreseeable future. We need something to keep our spirits up these days, and if I can help alert folks to new movies to watch, I’m gonna do it.
The “Newly Added” section at the top of my Netflix page has all of the Indian movies and series that have been added in the last month, plus international projects that feature prominent Indian actors, like Netflix’s April release Extraction, starring Randeep Hooda and Manoj Bajpayee. Because Amazon Prime adds so many more titles than Netflix every month (75 in the last week alone), all of the new additions from the last seven days are at the top of the “Newly Added” section of my Prime page. Below that are all the 2020 releases added in the last month.
In happy news, Eros Now is offering two free months of streaming if you sign up using the code STAYSAFE. I haven’t used Eros Now in a while, but their catalog is massive, with content across multiple languages as well as original films and series. The only sort option is “Most Popular” — though you can winnow results down by “Language” and “Decade” — so it can be hard to find what you’re looking for. Here are some of my favorite films in the Eros Now catalog (the title links to the movie’s Eros Now page, the star-ranking to my review). Stay safe! — Kathy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.