Thappad is the last major Hindi theatrical release of 2020 scheduled to join Amazon Prime for the foreseeable future. There’s a chance some smaller releases from this year may make their way to Prime, and some already completed pictures may skip theaters altogether and release straight to streaming. Of course Amazon has a bunch of its own Indian Originals in the works as well. But until theaters reopen and studios start releasing new movies into cinemas — which may depend not just on conditions in India but across the globe — we’re facing a bit of a new-content drought on Prime.
Here’s the thing about Amazon: those old links from November no longer work, even if a movie was only MIA for a few weeks. Unlike Netflix — which makes one catalog entry for each title — Amazon makes a brand new product entry for each title depending on which distributor has the licensing contract. So if you watched Swami back in early November, you watched a version licensed by a particular company to be streamed by Amazon. When that contract expired, the product essentially disappeared even though it’s catalog entry remains. Then Amazon signed a new deal with Ultra Media & Entertainment, for which Amazon made a whole new entry for Swami, even though it’s the same movie.
One of the perks of the Netflix system is that, if a movie in your List expires, it’ll show back up in your List again if Netflix signs a new contract to stream it, even if it’s with a different company. To find out if a title that expired from Amazon becomes available again, you need, well…me. No worries, though. Main hoon na, y’all.
But the worst movie of the year — possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen — is Khatta Meetha. The characters in Khatta Meetha aren’t merely unlikable; they’re morally reprehensible. And Khatta Meetha is a comedy.
A comedy can’t work if its hero is almost as bad as the villain. Khatta Meetha‘s hero, Sachin (Akshay Kumar), punches his girlfriend out of anger and, years later, harasses her to the point that she attempts suicide. There’s nothing heroic about Sachin. He’s a scumbag and an abuser. Yet the filmmakers expect the audience to see him as the charming underdog.
In the worst sequence of the movie, the villain, Sanjay (Jaideep Ahlawat), conceives of a plan to get Sachin to confront him. How is this accomplished? Sanjay and his friends gang rape Sachin’s sister and kill her.
Let me emphasize this: she’s not just attacked. She’s raped. Gang raped. And murdered. In a slapstick comedy.
How can an audience laugh after witnessing something so awful? I sure couldn’t.
A more understandable way to incite Sachin to avenge his sister — without putting off the audience completely — would have been for her to show up with a black eye, courtesy of Sanjay — provoking Sachin to beat the tar out of the villain. But that wouldn’t work in Khatta Meetha, because Sachin himself had already punched a woman in the face. This forced the writers to concoct something so unspeakably awful that even Sachin himself cannot abide it.
Is that the low standard we’re forced to accept from our comedic heroes? That their goodness is defined by their unwillingness to commit gang rape and murder?
The only reason to see Khatta Meetha is if you plan on writing a comedy and want to know exactly what not to do. Sarcastic congratulations to the creators of Khatta Meetha for making not only the Worst Bollywood Movie of 2010, but the worst movie I’ve ever paid to watch.
Friday, November 19, 2010, sees the opening of the Hindi movie Guzaarish and Today’s Special, an English-language movie that may interest Bollywood fans. Guzaarish (“Request”) stars Hrithik Roshan as a quadriplegic former magician and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as his nurse.
Also opening this weekend is Today’s Special, which stars Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi as a chef forced to take over his family’s Indian restaurant. The movie is based on a play written by Mandvi and features Bollywood legend Naseeruddin Shah.
Today’s Special opens on Friday at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30. Check the movie’s official website for nationwide showtimes. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 39 min.
Besides Guzaarish, two other Hindi movies continue their runs in Chicago area theaters. Golmaal 3 gets a third week at the Pipers Alley 4, Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30. Action Replayy also gets a third week at the South Barrington 30.
Other Indian movies showing around Chicago this weekend include the Telugu movies Kathi and Yemaindia Eevela at the Golf Glen 5.
Other Indian movies playing in the area this weekend include Mynaa (Tamil), Va Quarter Cutting (Tamil), Anwar (Malayalam), Kathi (Telugu) and Yemaindia Eevela (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove has Enthiran (Tamil) and its Telugu-dubbed version, Robo.
Look at the Action Replayy poster to the left. Bright colors and cheesy grins on the stars’ faces promise an all-out 1970s spectacle. The movie itself, however, is a half-baked, sloppy attempt at a romantic comedy that squanders its resources.
None of Action Replayy‘s shortcomings have anything to do with its stars, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Akshay Kumar. They make the most out of the material they were given. Bachchan is beautiful and effortless, and Kumar is equally charming.
The problems stem primarily from the movie’s underwhelming lead character, Bunty (Aditya Roy Kapoor): a young man of indeterminate age who is simultaneously bland and obnoxious. His girlfriend, Tanya (Sudeepa Singh), is desperate to marry him. Bunty refuses because he doesn’t believe in marriage, thanks to the poor example set by his unhappy parents, Mala (Bachchan) and Kishen (Kumar).
Conveniently, Tanya’s scientist grandpa has a time machine. Bunty hops in, sets the dial for 1975, and presses the giant red button Tanya’s grandpa explicitly tells him not to press. He travels back in time and sets off in search of his still unmarried parents, hoping to make them fall in love before they are arranged to be married.
First, Bunty finds the younger version of Tanya’s grandpa and shows him the time machine. He says, in essence, “You built this in the future, and I broke it. Now fix it” — as if gramps can learn in a matter of days what took him 35 years to learn.
Bunty finds his parents’ younger selves and sets about trying to make them fall in love. Kishen is a timid dweeb, as indicated by the appallingly fake-looking set of buck teeth Kumar is forced to wear. Mala is both a local beauty and a thug. The first half of the movie is spent showing why they hate each other. Not until the second half does Bunty begin to turn Kishen into a confident stud and Mala into a demure lady. He accomplishes this by shouting at them.
The most confusing aspect of the movie is why no one in the seventies has any questions for Bunty: Who are you? How do you know so much about us? Why are you wearing such unusual clothing, like that t-shirt with a picture of Yoda on it, even though Star Wars doesn’t exist yet? Why do you keep calling us “Dad” and “Mom”?!
This particular time-travel premise worked fine in Back to the Future, but Action Replayy doesn’t seem to understand why it worked. There’s never any threat to Bunty, the way there was to Marty McFly, who needed to get his parents together before he faded from existence. Bunty has unlimited time to get make his parents fall in love. If he fails, they’ll still be together — if unhappy — and he’ll still be born.
Action Replayy also sidesteps one of the most interesting aspects of Back to the Future, in which the teenage version of Marty’s mother develops a crush on him. Instead, Mala’s lifelong friend, Mona (Neha Dhupia), smiles at Bunty a few times before asking him late in the movie, “Do you love me?” Given that the Bunty doesn’t interact with Mona at all before this, his answer is obviously “No.”
If the movie was interested in having any real emotional impact, Bunty would’ve gotten to know his grandparents, who died either before he was born or when he was very young. Instead, he makes jokes about which of them will die first. That he has no interest in them is indicative of Bunty’s shallow character and the movie’s lack of emotional understanding.
The fact that accomplished actors like Om Puri and Kirron Kher (who play Grandpa and Grandma, respectively) weren’t given more to do is just another example of how Action Replayy fails to fully utilize the considerable resources at its disposal. It’s instead content to be a tepid romantic comedy with flashy period costumes.
Two new Hindi movies and another older release debut in the Chicago area on Friday, November 5, 2010. The flashy romantic comedy Action Replayy (the extra “y” distinguishes it from “Action Replay,” the Gujarati play on which it’s based) stars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Akshay Kumar as a couple living in an unhappy arranged marriage until their adult son travels back to the 1970s to make them fall in love.
This Diwali weekend’s other major release reunites most of the cast of Golmaal Returns for Golmaal 3, a sequel about a bickering family. I named Golmaal Returns my Worst Bollywood Film of 2008, and it remains one of the most annoying movies I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, I have low expectations for Golmaal 3.
Golmaal 3 opens in the Chicago area at the same theaters carrying Action Replayy: Pipers Alley 4, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30. Its runtime is listed as 2 hr. 35 min.
On Friday, the Golf Glen 5 also debuts Bombay Summer, an independent Hindi movie that’s been on the festival circuit for a while.