Tag Archives: Baahubali

Opening September 4: Welcome Back

After eight years, Welcome‘s gangster brothers — played by Anil Kapoor and Nana Patekar — return to the big screen for Welcome Back. The sequel opens in Chicago area theaters on September 4, 2015.

Welcome Back opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, 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. (Is there really big enough demand for a Welcome sequel to warrant opening in seven Chicago area theaters? I’m skeptical.) It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

Phantom gets a second week at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.

All Is Well carries over for a third week at MovieMax.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan sticks around for an amazing eighth week at the South Barrington 30, which also holds over Drishyam and the Hindi-dubbed version of Baahubali.

Also on Friday, Learning to Drive continues its run at the River East 21, Century Centre Cinema in Chicago, and Century 12 Evanston/Cinearts 6 in Evanston, and opens at the AMC Northbrook Court 14 in Northbrook, Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 21 in Lincolnshire, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include:

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Bollywood Box Office: August 28-30

Phantom turned in a fine opening weekend in North America. From August 28-30, 2015, it earned $260,712 from 107 theaters ($2,437 average). It opened in the eleventh highest number of theaters for a Bollywood film this year and earned the twelfth largest opening weekend gross, so there you go.

Other Hindi films still showing in North American theaters:

  • Bajrangi Bhaijaan: Week 7; $27,399 from 19 theaters; $1,442 average; $8,069,305 total
  • All Is Well: Week 2; $13,392 from 25 theaters; $536 average; $124,567 total
  • Brothers: Week 3; $11,442 from 18 theaters; $636 average; $662,749 total
  • Drishyam: Week 5; $10,672 from eight theaters; $1,334 average; $726,706 total
  • Baahubali (Hindi-dubbed): Week 6; $6,434 from six theaters; $1,072 average; $583,354 total

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening August 28: Phantom

The Bollywood terrorism thriller Phantom — starring Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif — opens in Chicago area theaters on August 28, 2015.

Phantom opens on Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 28 min.

All Is Well carries over for a second week at all of the above theaters.

The rest of the South Barrington 30’s weekend Hindi lineup includes Brothers, Drishyam, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and the dubbed version of Baahubali.

Also opening in limited release on Friday is Learning to Drive, starring Ben Kingsley as a Sikh driving instructor who helps Patricia Clarkson find her independence following the breakup of her marriage. Learning to Drive opens at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Century Centre Cinema in Chicago, and the Century 12 Evanston/Cinearts 6 in Evanston on Friday, before expanding into suburban theaters in the coming weeks.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include:

Thoughts on Baahubali

I write about Hindi-language movies almost exclusively at this site, but I have to make an exception for Baahubali: The Beginning. The Telugu-Tamil fantasy film became such a huge success internationally — with collections in North America alone well above $8 million — that producers commissioned a special edition of the film for international audiences. Editor Vincent Tabaillon is tasked with trimming the nearly three-hour epic for screening at festivals and shopping to distributors. I’m hopeful that the new edition will get a run in the US, even after we already got the original version. Baahubali is a movie that needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

I adore Baahubali. The world created by SS Rajamouli is so vast and colorful that it feels like a video game mashup. Its hero, Shivudu, is a superpowered version of Uncharted‘s Nathan Drake, but with beefier arms and no guns. Shivudu leaves his jungle home by climbing a massive waterfall, and then finding snowy fields that border an ancient metropolis, giving the feeling of progressing through the levels of a Japanese role playing game (e.g., Xenoblade Chronicles).

And if gorgeous settings, political intrigue, and epic battles aren’t incentive enough, stars Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, and Tamannaah Bhatia are all fabulous looking.

When considering the film’s re-edit, the most obvious material for Tabaillon to excise are battles and musical numbers. As cool as the giant battle in the second half of the film is, it goes on for a really long time. It’s possible to maintain a sense of the battle’s scale while trimming it rather significantly. As for the music, I’d personally prefer to see as much of it retained as possible, since the soundtrack is incredible — especially “Dhirava“.

Assuming that the goal of the Baahubali re-edit is to reach new fans who don’t otherwise watch Indian films, there are a couple of issues that could surprise or offend Western audiences, and I’m not sure they’ll be able to be satisfactorily addressed in the editing process. First is Shivudu’s “courtship” of Avanthika. Rather than just talk to her, he sneaks up on her twice and tattoos her. Not only is it creepy, but he doesn’t seem to appreciate that his actions endanger her and threaten her standing among her people. And, no, this isn’t just a case of American political correctness imposing itself on another culture. Indian critic Anna MM Vetticad wrote a thorough takedown of the sequence, going so far as to call it rape.

Another issue is the way the movie addresses skin color. Bollywood has a preference for fair-skinned heroines, and the US does more than its share of whitewashing in movies and TV shows, so it’s a common problem. But Baahubali uses makeup in some overt ways that send the message that light skin is good, dark skin is bad.

Avanthika first appears to Shivudu in a vision as a pale apparition who entices him to climb the waterfall. When he sees her in reality, she’s a warrior with sun-baked skin. During their love song, he dips her under a waterfall, washing away her tan so she looks like the pale goddess of his imagination. He isn’t content to love her the way she is. He wants his dream girl, and his dream girl is fair.

On the flip side, the villains who attack the kingdom in the film’s second half are played by actors covered entirely in black makeup. It’s not clearly identified as some kind of war paint, so this appears to be blackface on a massive scale. While blackface doesn’t have the same stigma in Indian films that it does elsewhere in the world, Western audiences — Americans especially — will cringe when they see this.

It would be difficult to make changes to the thousands of warriors who fight for the bad guys, but perhaps some CGI makeup effects could be added to the rival chieftain to make it clear that this is battle regalia, and not a bunch of lighter-skinned actors dressing up as “evil” black guys.

Nevertheless, I think Baahubali is a tremendous achievement, especially considering that it cost less to produce than most American romantic comedies. Hollywood studios are foolish if they don’t offer Rajamouli a superhero franchise to direct. I’m excited that new audiences will get to experience Baahubali thanks to this re-edit. More than anything, I can’t wait until the release of Baahubali: The Conclusion in 2016!

Bollywood Box Office: August 7-9

Bangistan fizzled in its first weekend in North American theaters. From August 7-9, 2015, the terrorism comedy earned just $33,131 from 49 theaters in the US and Canada. Its per-screen average of $676 is barely above that of Welcome 2 Karachi ($667 average), whereas the median per-screen average for Hindi films 2015 is $1,573. Bangistan‘s comparatively limited theatrical release indicates that Excel Entertainment didn’t have high hopes from the North American market anyway, but they surely didn’t expect an opening this bad.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan was the highest earning Hindi film in North America for a fourth weekend in a row. It earned $298,766 from 277 theaters ($1,079 average) to bring its total to $7,592,273.

Drishyam held up well in its second weekend, adding another $135,028 from 57 theaters ($2,369 average) to bring its North American total to $554,345.

The Hindi-dubbed version of Baahubali carried over on 20 screens, earning another $56,861 ($2,843 average). The total North American earnings for the Hindi version alone stand at $496,014.

Another South Indian film got off to a flying start in the US this past weekend. The Telugu movie Srimanthudu opened in 157 theaters and earned $2,062,768 ($13,139 average). Wow!

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening August 7: Bangistan

One new Bollywood movie opens in the Chicago area on August 7, 2015. Bangistan stars Riteish Deshmukh and Pulkit Samrat as a pair of inept wannabe terrorists.

Bangistan opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min.

Drishyam gets a second week at MovieMax and South Barrington, plus the Marcus Addison in Addison and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan gets a fourth week at MovieMax, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17, plus the Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

The Pakistani film Bin Roye carries over at the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: July 31-August 2

Drishyam turned in a good opening weekend performance, but as expected, it wasn’t enough to overtake Bajrangi Bhaijaan. From July 31-August 2, 2015,the  Ajay Devgn-starrer Drishyam earned $268,634 from 97 theaters ($2,767 average) in the US and Canada.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan continued to rule the North American box office in its third weekend of release. It took in another $681,006 from 267 theaters ($2,551 average), bringing its total to $6,931,478.

The Hindi-dubbed version of Baahubali also performed well, earning $107,702 from 41 theaters ($2,627 average). In two weeks, the Hindi version has earned $388,650. [Note: Bollywood Hungama doesn’t have figures for either the Telugu or Tamil versions of Baahubali from this past weekend. The film’s total North American earnings from all versions are somewhere around $8 million.]

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama