I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with 35 Indian movies that were just added to the streaming catalog. Three Tamil films, two Malayalam movies, and the 2018 Punjabi drama Asees are now available, along with a trove of Hindi films released theatrically from 2006-2015. Most of the titles are new to Netflix. Here are links those I’ve previously reviewed:
Business is booming for Indian movies in North America. Baahubali took the continent by storm last weekend, and Salman Khan just posted his biggest opening weekend ever in the United States and Canada.
From July 17-19, 2015, Salman’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan earned $2,613,192 from 276 theaters ($9,468 average) in North America, according to Rentrak figures supplied to Bollywood Hungama. That opening weekend per-screen average is ridiculous, given the high theater count and considering that the second highest average in 2015 trails it by almost $3,000 (Piku‘s $6,673). The average becomes even more interesting when the figures are broken down by country. The average from the 256 US theaters is $8,628, while the 20 Canadian theaters averaged $20,221.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s success is a big deal for Salman’s brand in North America. Collections for his movies have consistently lagged behind those of the other two reigning Khans: Aamir and Shahrukh. Bajrangi Bhaijaan is Salman’s first release in more than 200 theaters in the US and Canada, the new threshold for aspiring blockbusters.
Not only did Bajrangi Bhaijaan more than double the collection of Salman’s previously most successful opening weekend — $1,139,340 for 2012’s Ek Tha Tiger — it already eclipsed the total earnings of his formerly most successful film in North America: 2012’s Dabangg 2, which earned $2,519,190. This is great news for Salman, who will hopefully take to heart the message that international fans are sending: choose good scripts, and you will be rewarded.
Baahubali continued its impressive run. Adding the second weekend earnings from both the Telugu ($966,329 from 162 theaters) and Tamil ($168,985 from 53 theaters) versions, Baahubali‘s North American total stands at $6,509,343. Amazing!
Two other Hindi films showed in the US over the weekend:
Dil Dhadakne Do: Week 7; $3,888 from four theaters; $972 average; $3,059,773 total
ABCD 2: Week 5; $352 from two theaters; $176 average; $881,302 total
The weekend of July 10-12, 2015, belonged to Baahubali. In just three days (four if you count Thursday night preview showings separately), it became the highest grossing Indian film of 2015 in North America! It even cracked the US box office top ten!
According to Rentrak figures supplied to Bollywood Hungama, the combined total for both the Telugu and Tamil versions of Baahubali earned $4,526,526 from 241 theaters in the US and Canada, for a per-screen average of $18,782. $4,281,338 came from the 172 theaters showing the Telugu version, while $245,188 came from the Tamil version on 69 screens. Many theaters in the US cancelled showings of the Tamil version of the film because it failed to arrive, so that part of the theater count could be high.
(As an aside, part of the explanation for Baahubali‘s terrific earnings in the US is that it benefited from “special event” pricing that never applies to Hindi films released in major chain theaters. All three of the theaters showing Baahubali in Chicago charged $20 per adult ticket, even for showings on weekdays before noon, which are almost always priced at reduced rates. Compare the special price of $20 for a Baahubali ticket to each theater’s standard weekend night adult ticket price: $12 at MovieMax; $11.25 at Muvico; and $7.25 at Seven Bridges. Makes you wonder what Dhoom 3‘s totals would’ve looked like if it had opened with similarly inflated ticket prices. Update: Click here for a great summary of how tickets for South Indian movies are priced in the US compared to Hindi movies.)
It’s also worth noting that Rentrak’s total is significantly higher than the $3,575,000 estimate released by Box Office Mojo on Sunday. I’ll update this post when Mojo releases their final total. I suspect Baahubali‘s real earnings lie somewhere in between. Regardless, its performance is remarkable. [Update: Box Office Mojo doesn’t have a final total beyond the posted estimate. Many other sites are using the Rentrak total, so we’ll stick with that.]
No new Bollywood movies released in local theaters over the weekend, and the only significant development was that Dil Dhadakne Do finally overtook Tanu Weds Manu Returns to become the highest earning Hindi film of 2015 in North America. Here’s how the Bollywood movies still in theaters fared over the weekend:
Dil Dhadakne Do: Week 6; $18,249 from 12 theaters; $1,521 average; $3,049,636 total
With no new Bollywood films in theaters, the North American box office depended on older releases during the weekend of June 26-28, 2015. The 3D dance sequel ABCD 2 led the weekend, earning another $154,260 from 123 theaters ($1,254 average). Its 10-day total of $768,435 ranks it the fourth highest earning Bollywood movie in the US and Canada in 2015.
In its fourth week of release, Dil Dhadakne Do added another $104,838 from 247 theaters ($424 average) to bring its total earnings to $2,925,626. Even though the movie’s foot traffic is slowing down, the lack of a marquee release during the upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend should enable DDD to clear the $3 million mark in North America.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns‘ impressive run nears its end. In its sixth weekend, it earned $14,248 from 141 theaters ($101 average), bringing its North American total to $3,015,069. Even if DDD overtakes TWMR in terms of total earnings, the fact that TWMR earned nearly as much while opening on over 100 fewer screens than DDD gives TWMR the moral victory.
Hamari Adhuri Kahani lingered for a third weekend on just four screens, taking in another $1,306 ($327 average). Its North American total stands at $171,778.
One new Bollywood movie opens in Chicago area theaters on July 3, 2015. Second Hand Husband features the Hindi-film debuts of Punjabi singer/actor Gippy Grewal and Govinda’s daughter, Tina Ahuja. With no other new Bollywood films to compete with, Independence Day weekend is a perfect time to launch two untested stars in the US. It also helps that the story — a lawyer (Tina) tries to find a new husband for her fiance’s ex-wife in order to get him out of his alimony payments — is accessible and ripe for comedy.
ABCD 2 turned in the fourth highest opening weekend of the 2015, nearly doubling the earnings of ABCD‘s 2013 run in just three days. During the weekend of June 19-21, ABCD 2 earned $438,539 from 166 theaters in the US and Canada ($2,642 average).
Strong numbers aside, the dance sequel fell short of expectations. Its per-screen average was only the seventh highest of the year, despite releasing into the third highest number of theaters and charging premium 3D ticket prices. With little else of note releasing in the coming weeks, and with most American students finally out of school for the summer, ABCD 2 could still double its opening weekend take over the course of its run.
Hamari Adhuri Kahani fell off significantly in its second weekend, earning $18,255 from 26 theaters ($702 average). Its North American total stands at $161,038.
Dil Dhadakne Do added another $225,998 from 111 theaters ($2,036 average), bringing its three-week total to $2,732,535.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns inched closer to a $3 million North American total, earning $35,777 from 20 theaters ($1,789 average) in its fifth weekend. Its total presently stands at $2,986,278.
Piku held on for a seventh weekend in two theaters, earning another $1,997 ($999 average) to bring its total to $2,220,648.
ABCD 2 tries way too hard. Earnest efforts pay off in the spectacular dance numbers, but the movie’s ham-handed moral and patriotic themes only inspire eye rolls.
ABCD 2 is not a direct followup to 2013’s ABCD: Any Body Can Dance. Many of the actors from the original are in the sequel, but in different roles. Prabhu Deva again plays a choreographer named Vishnu, but he’s not the same guy, which is needlessly confusing.
Vishnu 2.0 is a drunk, washed up Mumbai choreographer. He gets a chance at a fresh start when a disgraced hip-hop crew led by Suru (Varun Dhawan) asks for his help in winning an international competition in Las Vegas.
While the original ABCD was aimed at teenagers, ABCD 2 skews younger, with sophomoric humor and more explicit moral lessons woven into the story. Yet that’s what makes the redemption arc of Suru’s crew so darned awkward.
At the start of the film, Suru’s crew, the Mumbai Stunners, is the most popular group on an Indian TV dance competition show. During the show’s finale, the judges — one of whom is ABCD 2 director Remo D’Souza, playing himself — bust Suru and his buddy Vernon (Sushant Pujari) for copying the choreography of a hip-hop group from the Philippines. The Stunners are branded cheaters and thrown off the show.
The consequences haunt Suru, Vernon, and other members of the group like Vinnie (Shraddha Kapoor), even at their day jobs. That prompts Suru to reform the Stunners and beg Vishnu’s help, hoping that victory in Vegas will prove their talent to the Indian audience that shunned them.
The problem is that Suru and Vernon — though mostly Suru — really did cheat, but they never admit it or apologize for it. They are punished by being kicked off the show, but they aren’t sorry. Even as his friends are ridiculed because of his devious actions, Suru doesn’t ask for their forgiveness.
The redemption-without-remorse lesson is a strange moral to preach to children. Worse, they meet the Filipino team they stole from at the Vegas dance competition, and no one mentions the theft. The Stunners act like fanboys, and the Filipino team praises them for their heart.
If someone stole my work and passed it off as his own, then tried to act like he was my biggest fan, I wouldn’t be grateful. I’d be pissed.
Other subplots fail to tug the heartstrings as intended. Suru tries to honor the memory of his dead mother, a famed dancer. Crew-member Vinod (Punit Pathak) is not only deaf and mute, but also routinely coughs up blood. There’s a long-lost son. The crew finds their mojo only when they embrace their Indian roots and dance to absurdly patriotic/religiously tinged songs.
The most successful subplot involves the only two female members of the crew: Vinnie and Olive (Lauren Gottlieb), an Indian-American dancer who joins them in Vegas. When Olive gets too flirty with Suru for Vinnie’s liking, the two talk about it rather than devolving into a catfight. It’s nice to see the two women portrayed so positively.
Plot problems aside, the dancing is the real reason anyone goes to see ABCD 2, and in that regard it does not disappoint. These days, even big budget Bollywood movies only feature one or two large-scale choreographed numbers, but ABCD 2 has a bunch of them. On top of that, spotlight performances showcase just how skilled the cast members are. The talent level of pro dancers like Gottlieb, Pujari, Pathak, and Dharmesh Yelande (who plays Dharmesh) cannot be overstated.
Part of what made ABCD so successful was that the cast consisted of professional dancers who acted. It gave cohesiveness to the production. The integration of Kapoor and Dhawan — professional actors who dance — into the cast of dancers is mostly successful. They aren’t just good dancers as far as actors are concerned; they are very, very good dancers, period.
However, Dhawan occasionally stands out from his crewmates, most noticeably in the song “Happy Hour.” It’s not that he’s performing poorly, just that the thousands of extra hours men like Pujari, Pathak, and Yelande have spent dancing gives their movements a fluidity and crispness that Dhawan can’t precisely replicate.
Sushant Pujari was my standout performer in the original ABCD, and it’s nice to see his role elevated in the sequel. His acting has improved enough that Bollywood casting agents need to give him a lot more attention.
Even though the plot is geared toward a youthful audience, there is a ton of toned flesh on display for older moviegoers. Kapoor and Gottlieb both look amazing, and every guy in the crew is ripped. If you are a fan of hot, shirtless dudes, then the climactic dance number is for you.
ABCD 2 is not as good as ABCD. However, there’s unlikely to be another Bollywood production this year that has the volume and quality of dancing that ABCD 2 has. Go see it if you want to get your groove on (but forgo the 3D upcharge).
The 3D Bollywood film ABCD 2 hits Chicago area theaters on June 19, 2015. The followup to 2013’s ABCD: Any Body Can Dance is a sequel in name only, as many of the actors from the original are back, but in different roles. Prabhu Deva plays characters named Vishnu in both films, but I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be the same guy. Whatever. The dancing is what’s important here, not franchise continuity.
Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Eli (Tamil) at the South Barrington 30 and MovieMax, which also carries Vinavayya Ramayya (Telugu), Krishnamma Kalipindi Iddarini (Telugu), Premam (Malayalam), Ranna (Kannada), Kerintha (Telugu), and Ivide (Malayalam).