Tag Archives: Article 15

Best Bollywood Movies of 2019

It’s time for my annual roundup of the year’s best Hindi films. I need to start with a caveat, in anticipation of any comments asking why certain movies didn’t make my list. Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law died in 2019, and I missed seeing a bunch of movies, especially those released in the first half of the year. I’m particularly disappointed to have missed Sonchiriya, since I’ve read many good things about it. It only ran in North American theaters for two weeks in March before heading to the streaming service Zee5 — which isn’t available in the United States. It’s not available for digital purchase or on DVD here either, so there’s no legal way for me to catch up on it. I’m sure there are other 2019 releases that I would have enjoyed that I also missed out on.

That said, 2019 was a fantastic year for action movie buffs like me, so let’s get to it!

What better place to start than with my favorite martial artist Vidyut Jammwal’s family-friendly eco-thriller Junglee. This is a rare Hindi film directed by an American: Chuck Russell, best known for the Jim Carrey hit, The Mask. While most Indian productions lean heavily on computer-generated effects to create animals on-screen, Russell had Jammwal and the rest of the cast interact with live elephants. It adds an element of awe that reinforces the story’s messages of conservation and respect for nature. And Jammwal’s excellent stunts are always a ton of fun.

India’s submission to the 92nd Academy Awards — Gully Boy — certainly deserved the honor, even if it failed to make the shortlist for the Oscars (not that any film can beat Parasite). Director Zoya Akhtar’s story of a young Muslim man voicing his generation’s frustrations through the medium of rap is timely and relevant, but also a great example of character creation and world-building.

Another of the action flicks on this year’s list is the thrill ride War. With world-class stunts and fight choreography — and a totally unexpected romantic undercurrent between characters played by Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff — War is a Bollywood action flick you could easily share with your non-Bollywood watching friends.

Speaking of Bollywood films for non-Bollywood watchers, the best of the year in that regard was the thriller Article 15. I recommended it to several acquaintances outside my Hindi-film circle, and all of them went to the theater to see it and really enjoyed it. Some readers have asked me if Bollywood movies can ever find crossover success in America, and to that end, Article 15 shows the value of having an English title and a plot that’s easy to describe. Oh, and it has to be a darned good movie as well, which Article 15 definitely is.

Given the theme of this year’s list, it’s no surprise that my favorite Hindi movie of 2019 is yet another action film, albeit an unconventional one. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (“The Man Who Feels No Pain“) — which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018 but didn’t play in Indian theaters until March, 2019, followed by a May Netflix release in the United States — features a hero raised on a diet of old martial arts movies who doesn’t have an ounce of cynicism. He believes that the good guys really can beat the bad guys. It’s a fun, goofy movie with a ton of heart, lots of flying kicks, and wonderful performances by newcomer Abhimanyu Dassani, Pataakha‘s Radhika Madan, Mahesh Manjrekar, Jimit Trivedi, and Gulshan Devaiah in my favorite double role of all time. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota makes me incredibly happy.

Kathy’s Best Bollywood Movies of 2019

  1. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes/stream on Netflix
  2. Article 15 — Stream on Netflix
  3. War — Buy at Amazon/stream on Prime
  4. Gully Boy — Stream on Prime
  5. Junglee — Buy at Amazon/stream on Hotstar

Previous Best Movies Lists

[Disclaimer: my Amazon and iTunes links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: September 6, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of the excellent 2019 thriller Article 15. Based on my experience, it’s a good movie to recommend to people who don’t normally watch Hindi films. Other recent additions include the 2019 Tamil release Watchman and the 2018 Telugu movies C/o Kancharapalem and Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with almost two dozen Indian and Pakistani films added in the last week, including these 2019 releases:

In other streaming video news, Super 30 comes to Hotstar on September 10.

For everything else new on Netflix and Amazon Prime — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: August 26, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of additions in the last week, including Sholay. Also new is the Telugu-dubbed version of 2000’s Kandukondain Kandukondain, a Tamil retelling of Sense and Sensibility starring Tabu and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The most notable recent release is the Tiger Shroff-Ananya Panday flick Student of the Year 2, which is actually pretty good. Other newly added 2019 films include:

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because Taapsee Pannu’s 2019 thriller Game Over is available for streaming in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Other new additions include the 2019 Marathi release Saavat and the Punjabi movies Kaake Da Viyah and Marriage Palace.

Seven Hindi and Malayalam titles are set to expire from Netflix on September 1:

In other Netflix news, Article 15 debuted on Netflix in India on August 24, but it won’t be available for streaming in the United States until September 6.

Streaming Video News: August 19, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of Indian films added in the last five days, including a bunch of 2019 releases:

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the additions of the 2019 releases 90ml (Tamil) and Uyare (Malayalam).

There are three 2019 releases of note likely to make their streaming debuts this week, according to Bollywood Buff. Taapsee Pannu’s thriller Game Over — which released theatrically in the United States in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi — comes to Netflix on August 21, followed by Article 15 on August 24. Student of the Year 2 is slated to join Amazon Prime on August 26 in India, which — because of the time difference — would see it become available in the US on Sunday, August 25 in the afternoon.

Bollywood Box Office: August 2-4, 2019

Sonakshi Sinha’s comedy Khandaani Shafakhana had a disastrous opening weekend in North America, earning just $29,631 from 50 theaters ($593 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. This is the latest in a string of disappointing performances by Sinha’s comedies here, starting last winter with Welcome to New York ($111,044 opening; $225,366 total), and followed in the summer by Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi ($66,179 opening; $135,815 total).

Judgementall Hai Kya held up well in its second weekend, earning $106,624 from 52 theaters ($2,050 average) and bringing its total to $456,252. Last weekend’s other new release — Arjun Patiala — fell hard, its business dropping by almost 95%. It earned just $4,091 from 12 theaters ($341 average). Its total stands at $106,804.

In its seventh weekend, Kabir Singh earned $13,275 from eight theaters ($1,659 average), bringing its total to $2,604,106. One interesting note about Kabir Singh‘s strong box office performance is that 40% of its North American total has come from Canada. Even big Hindi releases only open in 20-40 theaters in Canada, compared to 100-300 theaters in the United States, meaning that most Bollywood films derive about 20% of their combined North American total from Canada. 40% — over $1 million in Kabir Singh‘s case — is huge!

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Super 30: Week 4; $82,767 from 75 theaters; $1,104 average; $2,266,658 total
  • Article 15: Week 6; $980 from two theaters; $490 average; $1,058,891 total
  • Photograph: Week $50 from one theater ;$351,408 total

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: July 26-28, 2019

Two new Hindi releases met very different fates at the North American box office during the weekend of July 26-28, 2019. The Kangana Ranaut-Rajkummar Rao dark comedy Judgementall Hai Kya scored big, earning $248,781 from 59 theaters ($4,217 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. I’m surprised it didn’t open in more theaters, given the popularity of its lead actors.

The weekend’s other new release — Arjun Patiala — appears to have been a victim of theatrical overreach or bad timing (or both). The Diljit Dosanjh-Kriti Sanon romantic comedy earned just $67,407 from 73 theaters ($923 average). Two Punjabi-language releases — Chal Mera Putt and Ardaas Karan — performed really well here over the weekend, siphoning off much of Dosanjh’s core fanbase despite both Punjabi films showing on less than half as many screens as Arjun Patiala.

Super 30 held strong in its third weekend, earning enough to push it past the $2 million mark. The biographical drama earned $189,224 from 128 theaters ($1,478 average), bringing its total to $2,111,832, according to Box Office Mojo.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North America:

  • Kabir Singh: Week 6; $19,378 from 18 theaters; $1,077 average; $2,573,373 total
  • Article 15: Week 5; $7,705 from nine theaters; $856 average; $1,054,918 total
  • Photograph: Week 11; $111 from one theater; $351,358 total

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, and Box Office Mojo

Opening July 26: Arjun Patiala and Judgementall Hai Kya

Two new Hindi movies hit Chicago area theaters on July 26, 2019. First up is the romantic comedy Arjun Patiala, starring Diljit Dosanjh and Kriti Sanon.

Arjun Patiala opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera in Warrenville. It has a quick runtime of 1 hr. 47 min.

Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao play antagonists in the weekend’s other new release, Judgementall Hai Kya. The psychological black comedy opens Friday at all three of the above theaters and has a runtime of 2 hrs. 2 min.

Super 30 carries over for a third week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Article 15 and Kabir Singh both hold over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Movie Review: Article 15 (2019)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

A big city bureaucrat appointed to oversee a small town police department gets tangled in a web of politics, caste, and greed in the dynamite thriller Article 15.

Ayan (Ayushmann Khurrana) is the ideal audience avatar. He rolls into the town of Laalgaon, telling his girlfriend Aditi (Isha Talwar) over the phone that the place looks like something out of an ’80s movie. He notes the freshness of the country air. It’s a world apart from the large cities — domestic and international — that Ayan is used to.

Besides the predictable culture shock, there’s something strange about the town. Despite what Ayan said about the fresh air, there’s a pall over the town that bathes it and its inhabitants in sickly yellow or gray tones (per cinematographer Ewan Mulligan). Ayan meets a former classmate, Satyendra (Aakash Dabhade), who is evasive and twitchy instead of the cheerful friend Ayan remembers. The rest of the cops — led by Ayan’s second-in-command, Bhramadatt (Manoj Pahwa) — are eager to close the case of two Dalit (lower caste) girls who were reported missing days earlier and found murdered. Only Ayan seems interested in the whereabouts of a third girl reported missing with them.

At first, Ayan is too smug to see what’s really going on, buoyed his sense of worldliness and the power accorded his position. He accepts Bhramadatt’s assessment of the murders as “honor killings” committed by the girls’ fathers, and he’s dismissive of Gaura (Sayani Gupta), the sister of the third missing girl. Only when he discovers that Bhramadatt is stalling him on the results of the postmortem and when his own men are attacked by Dalit activists does Ayan realize that he’s missing crucial pieces of the puzzle.

Laalgaon is governed by a rigid, complicated interpretation of the caste system. There are layers within layers, so that everyone ranks slightly above or below someone else. It reinforces social systems governing occupations, food handling, even whose shadow is allowed to fall on whom.

Money perpetuates the caste system in town, even though using it to discriminate against certain groups is officially prohibited by Article 15 of the Indian Constitution. By marginalizing the lowest castes, the people at the top ensure a steady supply of what is essentially slave labor. American audiences will notice similarities to how the white power structure here replaced lost laborers following the abolition of slavery, as explained in Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th. The activist group in the Article 15 is in part a sort of militant labor union, and when they strike, the film shows in disgusting detail how dependent the town is on the workers who do the “dirty” jobs no one else wants.

Some people in Laalgaon have transcended certain aspects of their caste, such as Jatav (Kumud Mishra), who became a police officer with Bhramadatt’s help, even though his father was a school janitor. The status elevation turned Jatav into one of the most vocal critics of those below him, and his fear of falling back down the ladder keeps him subservient to those above. His eventual realization that turning his back on his people only made things worse is hard-earned and painful.

The scene that best captures the all-encompassing nature of Laalgaon’s power dynamics involves Bhramadatt and Jatav. As both men sob, Bhramadatt shakes Jatav, accusing him of ingratitude and endangering their very lives by aiding Ayan’s investigation. (More than one character states that the worst that will happen to Ayan is he’ll be transferred, while the locals who help him will be killed.) Though Bhramdatt ranks higher socially than Jatav, both serve the rich and politically connected at the top. Seeing these gray-haired men so terrified drives home how precarious their lives have always been in a place governed by something other than the rule of law.

Pahwa and Mishra are the standouts in a film full of amazing performances. Gupta is resolute in the face of a system designed not to help people like her. Same for Ronjini Chakraborty as the junior Medical Examiner who knows the truth of what happened to the murdered girls. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub’s portrayal of the Dalit revolutionary leader is terrific.

Aditi tells Ayan at one point that she doesn’t want him to be a hero, she wants him to be the man who doesn’t wait for the hero to arrive. That sentiment governs the way Khurrana plays Ayan. There’s a problem to solve, and Ayan does it without a lot of flash, using the skills he has at his disposal. Khurrana’s understated performance suits the movie perfectly.

Article 15 has a few moments that feel a little preachy, but they’re born of director Anubhav Sinha’s and writer Gaurav Solanki’s passion for the film’s message of justice. Their movie is thoughtful and relevant, with jaw-dropping surprises. Article 15 is a must-see.

Links

Bollywood Box Office: July 19-21, 2019

Super 30 had a really nice second weekend after a slow opening in North America. From July 19-21, 2019, the biographical drama earned $441,945 from 189 theaters ($2,338 average), according to Box Office Mojo. It held onto 50% of its opening weekend business — the best carryover rate for the year so far among Hindi films that debuted in at least 150 theaters. Its 10-day total stands at $1,731,646.

Kabir Singh did a brisk business in its fifth weekend of release, earning $58,482 from 25 theaters ($2,339 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. That brings its total to $2,509,109.

Article 15 closed out its fourth weekend with $23,700 from 17 theaters ($1,394 average), pushing the thriller’s total to seven digits: $1,038,992.

Here’s a fun fact: of the 28 Hindi films to release in North America in 2019, half have earned more than $1 million. I looked back through the last five years of box office data, and only two years — 2016 and 2018 — had more than 14 $1 million-earners total (15 and 18 movies, respectively). It’s super unlikely that the 50% ratio will hold through the end of the year, but nevertheless, a lot of Hindi films are going to make a lot of money here in 2019.

Meanwhile in Canada, Photograph earned $134 from one theater. After ten weeks in North America, it’s earned $351,247.

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

In Theaters: July 19, 2019

No new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area the weekend beginning July 19, 2019. After a lackluster opening weekend, Super 30 carries over for a second week at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Article 15 gets a fourth week at MovieMax, South Barrington, and Cantera.

Kabir Singh hangs on for a fifth week at MovieMax, South Barrington, and the AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles unless indicated):