2015 has been an anemic year for Bollywood releases in the United States, and this weekend is no exception. With nothing new in theaters — and assuming you’ve already been to see Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! — this is a good weekend to catch up on some releases from the first three months of 2015 that you may have missed.
I’ve included links below to services carrying the films in the U.S., how much the movies cost to rent or purchase, and in what format they are available, if specified: high definition (HD) or standard definition (SD). All of the films supposedly have English subtitles.
Dolly Ki Doli Google Play: rental = $3.99; purchase = $4.99 iTunes: SD rental = $3.99; HD rental = $4.99; SD purchase = $13.99; HD purchase = $14.99 YouTube: SD rental = $3.99; HD rental = $4.49; SD purchase = $4.99; HD purchase = $7.99
Tevar Eros Now: available for streaming with a $7.99 premium monthly subscription iTunes: SD rental = $3.99; HD rental = $4.99; SD purchase = $7.99; HD purchase = $14.99
Spuul is streaming a pair of movies from 2015 that released theatrically in India but not in the U.S. Alone and Dirty Politics are both included in the cost of a premium monthly subscription, priced at $4.99.
Here’s how I would organize a weekend movie marathon of the above titles:
A horror movie starring Bipasha Basu (or anyone, for that matter) as a pair of conjoined twins sounds like a recipe for disaster. But Alone is creepy, well-paced, and far better than one would expect it to be.
Basu plays Sanjana, the surviving member of a pair of identical twins once joined at the waist. Her deceased sister, Anjana (also Basu, in flashbacks), wore glasses, making it possible to tell the two apart.
Sanjana’s marriage to Kabir (Karan Singh Grover) is suffering due to her co-dependence. Her survivor’s guilt led them to flee her family home in Kerala. When her mother is seriously injured in a suspicious accident, Sanjana and Kabir return to the home haunted by memories of Anjana. But is it just Anjana’s memory haunting the place, or Anjana herself?
The married couple shares a complicated dynamic. Who can blame Sanjana for having emotional issues, considering her mother’s present ill health and her unresolved guilt about her sister’s death? Apparently Kabir can. He’s unsympathetic toward his wife, which is shocking given that he’s known the twins since childhood and should be able to understand their unique bond.
It’s only after a psychologist, Dr. Namit (Zakir Hussain), tells him to stop being such a jerk that Kabir starts treating his wife with the understanding she deserves. Kabir’s early bad behavior only looks worse when he and the doctor finally see proof that Sanjana’s troubles aren’t all in her mind; her sister’s spirit really is out to kill her.
Alone‘s plot has a lot of twists and turns, appropriately mirroring Sanjana’s disturbed mental state. Any confusion as to why events proceed the way they do is resolved in satisfying fashion by the story’s end. The clever way the tale is told looks even better upon further reflection.
The acting is uneven, partly due to the way the characters are written. There’s only so much Grover can do to make a jerk like Kabir appealing. Basu struggles initially to make scared, fragile Sanjana relatable, but her character evolves as the movie proceeds, culminating in a fun, crazy climax. The two attractive leads share a steamy chemistry during the film’s love scenes.
For a Hindi movie, Alone is fairly scary, without resorting to gross visuals or gore. The large, dark house sets a spooky mood where one can easily imagine seeing things moving about in the night. The movie doesn’t shy away from jump scares, and it features some nice misdirection.
I admit, I expected Alone to be more unintentionally funny than anything else. It only is on a couple of occasions, as when Basu has to simulate a poltergeist attack by flinging herself onto the ground and into walls. There is also some not-so-subtle innuendo in the lyrics of a love song sung by a male vocalist: “I’ll trickle drop by drop and stay on your body.”
But Alone dashed my low expectations and delivered a solid horror film. Except for an overly long scene involving a religious ritual, the momentum never flags. The story gets progressively more interesting and complicated, and the payoff is satisfying. It’s an entertaining flick.