Tag Archives: Akshay Kumar

Bollywood Box Office: September 9-11, 2016

The two latest Hindi films to open in North America did quite well in their first weekend in theaters. Let’s start with the wider release of the two: Baar Baar Dekho, starring Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra. During the weekend of September 9-11, 2016, Baar Baar Dekho earned $609,640 from 143 theaters, an average of $4,263 per theater. Those numbers are significantly better than figures for Kaif’s other 2016 romance, Fitoor, which co-starred Aditya Roy Kapur. Baar Baar Dekho has already earned more than Fitoor did in its entire run ($513,879) despite the fact that it opened in twenty fewer theaters.

By a very different metric, the weekend’s other new release — the golf comedy Freaky Ali — also posted good numbers. Freaky Ali earned $42,637 from 42 theaters ($1,015 average). That may not sound like much, but Bollywood movies that open in fewer than 50 theaters in North America are lucky to earn $20,000 in their opening weekend. The second highest opening weekend gross among the Under-50 club this year was Mastizaade, which earned $28,529 from 46 theaters. A final tally for Freaky Ali in the $60,000 range would be commendable.

Naam Hai Akira didn’t fare nearly as well as the new releases. Its business fell by 88% from last weekend, with returns of just $15,364 from 66 theaters ($233 average). Ouch. Its total earnings after two weekends are $210,865.

Rustom continues its impressive run into its fifth week, earning $17,335 from sixteen theaters ($1,083). Total earnings of $1,900,485 rank Akshay Kumar’s Rustom in fourth place for the year, just ahead of Kumar’s Airlift.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Rustom (2016)

Rustom3 Stars (out of 4)

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

An open-and-shut murder case turns out to be anything but in Rustom, a movie based on a real-life case from 1959. Period costumes and decor give this drama a stylish flair.

The title character Rustom Pavri (Akshay Kumar) is a decorated Navy officer. His ship returns to Mumbai — then Bombay — ahead of schedule, causing him to catch his wife Cynthia (Ileana D’Cruz) in an extramarital affair with their mutual friend, Vikram (Arjan Bajwa).

Rustom returns to his ship to check a gun and ammunition out of the munitions cabinet, logging the withdrawal with the duty officer. He heads to Vikram’s mansion where he shoots the wealthy playboy to death, then turns himself into the police.

Chief Police Inspector Vincent Lobo (Pawan Malhotra) is immediately suspicious of Rustom’s calm demeanor, his refusal to be housed in a Navy jail, and his insistence on representing himself at trial. To Vikram’s bereaved sister, Priti (Esha Gupta), Rustom’s actions feed her hopes of an easy victory in court.

But Rustom has a few things working in his favor. Erach (Kumud Mishra) — a publisher from the same Parsi community as Rustom — uses his newspaper to run stories painting the officer in a favorable light, driving sales and tainting the jury pool at the same time. Erach’s contentious relationship with the trial judge (Anang Desai) provides the film’s comic relief.

Also on Rustom’s side is public sentimentality toward soldiers, a bias that Rustom himself exploits. When representing himself at trial, Rustom casually responds to the prosecutor’s (Sachin Khedekar) complaint about the symbolic impact of the officer’s uniform by saying that wearing his uniform is one of his unchangeable habits, just like breathing or defending his country.

Director Tinu Suresh Desai shows the power of the uniform in an early scene whose significance is easy to miss. Fresh off his ship, Rustom stops to buy some flowers for Cynthia from a street vendor. Just in the background, a pair of young women stare dreamily at Rustom, likely envisioning themselves the lucky recipients of a bouquet from a handsome man in uniform someday.

Writer Vipul K. Rawal draws from the way the jury was influenced in the real case of Officer K. M. Nanavati to make observations about the way blind veneration of the military can lead society to overlook the shortcomings of both individual officers and larger institutions. His story is critical, but not cynical.

Probably the biggest selling point for Rustom is its visual appeal. Costume designer Ameira Punvani showcases a stunning array of attire, adding ostentatious touches to the wardrobes of the wealthy siblings, Vikram and Priti. There are also loads of classic cars and furniture pieces to drool over among the set dressings.

Completing the period aesthetic is the cast, smartly assembled by Shruti Mahajan. Malhotra looks like he was plucked straight from a mid-century detectives catalog. Bajwa was born to play a rich, 1950s Lothario. The way he leers at Cynthia is positively nauseating, and I mean that as a compliment.

Gupta suits the film perfectly as well, poured into her glamorous cocktail attire, haughty expression permanently in place. I wish there were more to her character, but one can’t fault Priti’s single-minded drive to bring her brother’s killer to justice.

By necessity, Rustom has to play his cards close to the vest, so this isn’t one of Kumar’s flashier roles. Still, he fills Rustom with enough charm and intelligence to keep both the audience and the other characters guessing about his endgame.

D’Cruz gets to show the most emotional range as Cynthia, a woman overwhelmed by guilt and loneliness. There’s more to the story than she realizes, leaving her to suffer from a mistake that may or may not be entirely her fault. D’Cruz does a fine job containing Cynthia’s inner torment behind a brave public face.

Rustom is an entertaining movie, its vibrant style counting for a lot, given the relative dearth of period films in Bollywood. It’s also patriotic without being blindly so. Overall, it’s worth a watch.

Links

Streaming Video News: August 15, 2016

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with three new additions to the streaming catalog, including two 2016 theatrical releases. The highest profile addition is Airlift, which stars Akshay Kumar in a fictionalized version of 1990 evacuation of 170,000 Indian citizens from Kuwait following Iraq’s invasion. I felt the movie fell short of its potential, but it is a fitting choice for some patriotic Independence Day viewing.

Also new is Laal Rang, a movie that no one but me bothered to watch when it released in April. If you’ve ever wondered why Shah Shahid of Blank Page Beatdown and I are such massive Randeep Hooda fans, watch Laal Rang and understand.

The last addition is John & Jane, a 2005 documentary about Indian call center workers by director Ashim Ahluwalia of Miss Lovely fame.

For everything else new on Netflix, check Instant Watcher.

Opening August 12: Mohenjo Daro and Rustom

One of the biggest box office showdowns of the year happens on August 12, 2016, with the release of two very different period films. The Indus Valley-set Mohenjo Daro stars Hrithik Roshan and is directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. It’s their first reunion since Jodhaa Akbar.

Mohenjo Daro opens in nine Chicago area theaters on Friday: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Century 12 Evanston/Cinearts 6 in Evanston, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

The weekend’s other new release is Rustom, set in Bombay in 1959 and based on a true crime story. It stars Akshay Kumar, Ileana D’Cruz, and Esha Gupta.

Rustom opens on Friday in six Chicago area theaters: River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, Woodridge 18, and Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 28 min.

Dishoom gets a third week at the Cantera 17.

Other Indian films showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Box Office Star Analysis: Hrithik Roshan

Though the three Khans dominate the Hindi film industry at home and abroad, it’s important not to overlook Hrithik Roshan’s popularity in the United States and Canada. Check out Hrithik’s North American box office returns since 2001.

HrithikRoshanNABoxOffice

Though not as prolific as other Bollywood heroes, Hrithik is certainly dependable at the box office. Ten of the thirteen films he’s released since 2001 — the ones for which I have reliable data — have earned at least $1 million in the States. His only movie to earn less than $500,000 in North America was 2009’s Luck By Chance, in which he played a small supporting role (despite featuring prominently on the film’s poster).

With the three Khans in a league of their own, let’s pit Hrithik’s track record against that of a more comparable A-list star: Akshay Kumar, an actor as profligate as Hrithik is picky. Though Akshay has had a great 2016 so far — with Airlift earning $1.8 million here in January and Housefull 3 $1.3 million in June — this chart I made in 2014 showed his earnings in North America trending down. None of the four films he released in 2015 made $1 million.

Akshay’s highest finish in the all-time Bollywood box office list for North America is 45th place for 2008’s Singh Is Kinng. Five of Hrithik’s films rank above that, including two in the Top 20 (Jodhaa Akbar in sixteenth place and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in eighteenth place). While Akshay may have greater lifetime receipts due to volume, Hrithik’s earning potential for any given film is higher.

Hrithik and Akshay face off in theaters on August 12, 2016, with the release of Mohenjo Daro and Rustom, respectively. Mohenjo Daro reunites Hrithik with his Jodhaa Akbar director Ashutosh Gowariker, but the film’s leading lady, Pooja Hedge, is a newcomer to Hindi films (as opposed to his superstar Jodhaa Akbar heroine, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). On the other hand, movies with patriotic themes — like Holiday, Baby, and Airlift — have been Akshay’s bread and butter in recent years, and he plays a Navy officer in Rustom. It’s going to be fun to see who wins this box office duel.

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Housefull 3 (2016)

Housefull32 Stars (out of 4)

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

Lies. Manipulation. Betrayal. When considered from the perspective of the three female leads, Housefull 3 is a tragedy, not a comedy.

Wealthy sisters Gracy (Jacqueline Fernandez), Jenny (Lisa Haydon), and Sarah (Nargis Fakhri) live in London with their doting father, Batuk Patel (Boman Irani, playing a different character from the first two Housefull films, but with the same name). The beautiful, accomplished women — Gracy is a doctor, Jenny an artist, and Sarah a philanthropist — have grown up under the shadow of a curse: catastrophe befalls anyone in their family who marries, thus their father has forbidden them from ever falling in love.

However, Batuk’s family curse is a ruse to hide a more treacherous reason for keeping the women single. The sisters’ entire lives are built upon lies told by their own father.

Despite Batuk’s warnings, the women find romance. Gracy loves Sandy (Akshay Kumar), a wannabe footballer who dreams of owning a soccer club just so he can give himself a place on the roster. Jenny loves Teddy (Riteish Deshmukh), an aspiring race car driver who can’t find a sponsor. Sarah loves Bunty (Abhishek Bachchan), an untalented rapper who wants to start his own record label.

The three men realize that the only way to finance their delusional dreams is by marrying wealthy women. They set their sights on the three sisters, vowing to do whatever it takes to get their hands on a share of the Patel fortune.

Throughout the film, the women have no idea that they are being used by their boyfriends. Their father’s lies eventually put their very lives at risk. In a perfect world, the sisters would take their money and run, ditching all of the men who’ve deceived them.

But this Housefull 3, the third installment of a franchise built on the disposability and interchangeability of it female characters. Gracy, Jenny, and Sarah are hollow shells in sparkly outfits. For them to appreciate the degree to which they’ve been manipulated, they’d have to be fully realized humans, which they are not.

Instead, the story focuses on the three loser boyfriends who feign various disabilities to deceive first Batuk and later Urja Nagre (Jackie Shroff) a recently paroled mafia don. There are mistaken identities, wacky fight scenes, and people running around flailing their hands in the air. It feels so very tired.

Housefull 3 also feels cheap, as if directing duo Sajid-Farhad were instructed to spend as little as possible in order to maximize profits. Teddy’s big car race pits him against just one other driver on a giant track. When Teddy has to fake blindness, he uses a regular walking cane, not the white cane used by blind people. The climactic fight scene takes place in a wax statue factory full of rejects from Madame Tussaud’s, including a statue of The Rock with oversized ears.

The plot is stretched to maximum thinness to lengthen the amount of time between the few important plot revelations that exist, padded out with Bollywood in-jokes and movie references. Chunky Pandey’s character Aakhri Pasta is brought back for a third time because, well, why not?

One point in Housefull 3‘s favor concerns Kumar’s character, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. Sandy has an angry alternate personality named Sundi whose sole goal is to cause Sandy suffering, but Sundi does so in ways that are more annoying than harmful. One funny sequence finds Sundi in a bathroom, rubbing liquid hand soap in Sandy/Sundi’s eyes and kicking his shin against a towel rack.

Beyond Sandy’s cartoonish internal nemesis, there isn’t much clever or new in Housefull 3, and it’s hard to see a way to freshen up the formula for a fourth time. Maybe it’s time to close the doors on this franchise for good.

Links

Opening June 3: Housefull 3

Egads, a third Housefull movie hits Chicago area theaters on June 3, 2016. Boman Irani returns as the same character, but with a new set of daughters — Jacqueline Fernandez, Lisa Haydon, and Nargis Fakhri — with a new set of beaus — Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, and Abhishek Bachchan. The Housefull movies push the boundaries of what can legitimately be considered a sequel.

Housefull 3 opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min. [Author’s note: I won’t be reviewing Housefull 3 until Monday.]

Sarbjit gets a third week at MovieMax and the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend: