Tag Archives: Baby

Movie Review: Naam Shabana (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

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Taapsee Pannu’s supporting character Shabana was the best part of the 2015 spy thriller Baby, so spinning off an origin story for her made perfect sense. However, Naam Shabana is dull, doing neither the character nor the actress who plays her justice.

Too much time is spent on the “origin” part of Shabana’s story. We know that she is being recruited by a spy agency thanks to a number of long-distance shots of her overlaid with the markings of a camera’s viewfinder. It’s the same view through which two Indian spies scope out notorious gangster Mikhail in Vienna, right before Mikhail kills both of them.

The long-shots of Shabana are interspersed with the events of her ordinary college life. She’s on the university judo team, she hangs out with her pals, and she takes an economics class with Jai (Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala), a hunk with a crush on Shabana. She shares the details of her tragic childhood with Jai, adding backstory on top of backstory.

By the time the inciting incident triggers Shabana’s first contact with the head of the spy agency, Ranvir (Manoj Bajpayee), the movie is a quarter of the way over. There’s so much build up just get the ball rolling. Even then, the ball rolls very slowly.

Shabana first has to prove herself to the agency, even though they’ve been following her for years. There’s the obligatory training montage. Right when we’re ready for her to take the field and kick butt, Shabana disappears from the narrative for a full twenty minutes while other agents track down a crook named Tony (Prithviraj Sukumaran), whom they hope can lead them to Mikhail. When Shabana finally rejoins the fray, the action is interrupted by a ridiculous item number featuring Elli Avram.

Naam Shabana has about ninety minutes of material stretched to fill two-and-a-half hours. When one example of something would suffice, we’re shown two, just to pad things out. Although Baby creator Neeraj Pandey didn’t direct Naam Shabana — that credit belongs to Shivam Nair — Pandey did write the screenplay, complete with his tendency toward overly long runtimes.

A further disappointment is the way Shabana’s character is fleshed out from her small role in Baby. She’s mostly robotic, with a brief moment of hysteria that is drowned out by composer Sanjoy Chowdhury’s over-the-top score. (Did anyone else find the film’s closing theme awfully similar to the opening of “Day Tripper” by The Beatles?)

Shabana’s primary relationship is with her supportive but concerned mother (played by Natasha Rastogi). Their relationship provides the perfect opportunity to explore the natural pulling away from parents by young adults as they leave school and start their own lives–only taken to the extreme when the young adult becomes a spy. Instead, Mom simply vanishes from the story once Shabana joins the agency. It’s a huge miss in that it would’ve given a talented actress like Pannu more to do than just look cool in fight scenes (which she definitely does).

Cameos by key Baby cast members like Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, and Danny Denzongpa are well-integrated, but they come too late to rescue Naam Shabana from its plodding pace.


Bollywood Box Office: March 31-April 2, 2017

Naam Shabana got off to an unimpressive start at the North American box office. From March 31-April 2, 2017, the spin-off prequel earned $157,655 from 90 theaters ($1,752 average; adjusted average of $2,021 from 78 theaters*). While no one expected Naam Shabana to match the opening weekend collections of Baby ($434,951 from 99 theaters) — the 2015 Akshay Kumar action flick that spawned it — Naam Shabana‘s performance was sub-par compared to other movies that released this year with a similar theatrical footprint. It opened in three more theaters than Phillauri but earned over $100,000 less than Phillauri did in its opening weekend, despite its marketing advantage as part of a franchise. Naam Shabana‘s ultimate total will likely fall short of $300,000.

Phillauri held up reasonably well in its second weekend in theaters, retaining about 27% of its opening weekend business. It earned $71,277 from 78 theaters ($914 average; adjusted average of $1,097 from 65 theaters). Its total earning stand at $417,054.

After its fourth weekend in theaters, Badrinath Ki Dulhania is closing in on a North American total of $2 million. It added another $31,760 from 26 theaters ($1,222 average), bringing its current total to $1,966,459. (Bollywood Hungama had no US theater data for Badrinath Ki Dulhania, so I used Box Office Mojo’s figures.)

The Ghazi Attack closed out its seventh (and hopefully final) weekend, earning $10 from one theater. Its total across all languages is $770,425.

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: August 14-16

Brothers got off to a good — but not great — start in North America. From August 14-16, 2015, Brothers earned $348,036 from 181 theaters ($1,923 average). Almost a quarter of its earnings came from the 17 Canadian theaters that carried the film.

The per-screen average is the key to appreciating how well Brothers fared compared to star Akshay Kumar’s two previous releases in 2015. January’s Baby remains Kumar’s best performer this year: $4,393 average in 99 theaters. Even May’s Gabbar Is Back fared better in that metric than Brothers: $2,251 average in 120 theaters. It’s as though distributors attributed Baby‘s success entirely to Kumar, prompting them to open his subsequent films in more and more theaters. More likely, Baby over-performed thanks to its patriotic theme and its release during winter’s cinematic dead zone. Kumar’s opening weekend sweet spot in North America is right around 100 theaters.

In its fifth weekend, Bajrangi Bhaijaan took in another $130,081 from 65 theaters ($2,001 average), bringing its North American total to $7,871,909. For some perspective, the year’s next best fifth weekend performance — belonging to Dil Dhadakne Do — is $48,788 from 27 theaters. Demand for Bajrangi Bhaijaan is still awfully high here.

Poor old Bangistan hung around for a second weekend in just two American theaters, whence it earned $164. Its total stands at $44,177, fifth worst for the year in the US and Canada.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: May 8-10

Piku just knocked the pants off of every other Hindi movie to open in North America in 2015 so far and set a high bar for future releases. During its first weekend — from May 8-10, 2015Piku earned $938,938 from 117 theaters, an average of $8,025 per screen.

Mother’s Day Sunday drove huge crowds to the theater for the family comedy starring Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone. At least one showing at my local cinema sold out of tickets, which is almost unheard of. In one weekend, Piku earned $200,000 more than Baby — now the second highest earner of 2015 — earned from four weeks in North American theaters. Piku‘s strong earnings and positive word of mouth should make the team behind Bombay Velvet nervous ahead of its release on Friday, May 15.

[Rentrak reports to Bollywood Hungama weekend earnings figures for Piku that are about $150,000 less than the above figures reported by Box Office Mojo. I tend to prioritize Box Office Mojo’s figures when they have them available for Hindi movies. Either way, Piku earned a helluva a lot of money.]

In its second weekend, Gabbar is Back took in another $109,705 from 92 theaters ($1,192 average), bringing its North American total to $490,385.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!: Week 6; $2,200 from six theaters ($367 average); $608,751 total
  • Dharam Sankat Mein: Week 5; $160 from one theater; $13,545 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama


Bollywood Box Office: May 1-3

Gabbar is Back had a good opening weekend in North America by 2015 standards, which isn’t saying much. During the weekend of May 1-3, 2015, Gabbar is Back earned $270,101 from 120 theaters ($2,251 average). That’s the fifth highest opening of the year, although it opened in the third highest number of theaters.

As with Mr. X, Gabbar is Back proved vastly more popular in Canada than in the US. In Canada, Gabbar is Back took in $64,224 from 13 theaters, meaning that nearly a quarter of the film’s earnings came from just a tenth of its total North American theaters. The difference in the countries’ per-screen averages is even more stark: $4,940 in Canada versus $1,924 in the US.

Gabbar is Back‘s opening weekend total is $164,850 less than what Baby — Akshay Kumar’s other 2015 release — earned in its opening weekend in January. Given the caliber of Bollywood movies releasing this month, Gabbar is Back is more likely to flame out fast in theaters rather than burn slowly. Baby earned 60% of its total haul in its first weekend, so a similar performance by Gabbar is Back would place its final North American tally at around $450,000.

In its fifth weekend, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! added another $4,529 from five theaters ($906 average) to bring its US total to $605,436.

Dharam Sankat Mein spent a fourth weekend in one theater, taking in $374 to bring its total to $13,339.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: March 13-15

After enduring three weeks with no new Hindi films in North American theaters, fans turned out in large numbers for the thriller NH10. During the weekend of March 13-15, 2015, NH10 earned $143,209 from 46 theaters. Its per-screen average earnings of $3,113 are second highest for the year, behind Baby‘s $4,393 opening weekend average.

NH10‘s per-screen average is twice that of another actress-led film from 2015, January’s Dolly Ki Doli ($1,557 average). Dolly Ki Doli had the theoretical advantages of Rajkummar Rao in a supporting role and a cameo by Saif Ali Khan, but it overreached by opening in 72 theaters. Plus, NH10 is simply a better movie.

2014 featured two more direct comparisons by which to measure NH10‘s performance: Queen and Gulaab Gang. Both movies released on March 7, 2014, with Queen opening in 39 theaters in the United States and Canada and Gulaab Gang in 46. In their first weekend in theaters, Queen took in $161,998 ($4,154 average) and Gulaab Gang $60,718 ($1,320 average).

It’s hard to imagine any movie receiving the extraordinary uptick in business that propelled Queen to an eventual total in excess of $1.4 million, but NH10‘s opening weekend performance is closer to that of Queen than to other recent female-led films. With no new releases of note on the horizon for the rest of the month and a positive IMDb rating of 7.6 stars, NH10 should hold up well in the weeks to come.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Badlapur: Week 4; $6,495 from eight theaters; $812 average; 418,490 total
  • Roy: Week 5; $196 from one theater; $242,344 total
  • Shamitabh: Week 6; $52 from one theater; $299,352 total

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: February 13-15

Ranbir Kapoor’s return to the big screen (not counting his cameo in PK) wasn’t the resounding success one would’ve hoped for. During its debut weekend of February 13-15, 2015, Kapoor’s Roy earned $165,203 from 83 theaters ($1,990 average) in the United States and Canada.

Kapoor’s last major role was in 2013’s Besharam. That film was branded a total flop after earning just $504,000 from 217 theaters in North America. While Besharam‘s extravagant theater count magnified its degree of failure, it still averaged more per screen — $2,323 — than Roy.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Shamitabh: Week 2; $23,936 from 36 theaters; $665 average; $289,133 total
  • Baby: Week 4; $5,491 from three theaters; $1,830 average; $730,288 total
  • PK: Week 9; $264 from one theater; $10,550,310 total
  • Dolly Ki Doli: Week 4; $90 from one theater; $173,887 total

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening February 13: Roy and MSG

The romantic thriller Roy — starring Ranbir Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, and Arjun Rampal — hits Chicago area theaters on February 13, 2015.

Roy 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. 26 min.

Also opening at MovieMax on Friday is MSG: The Messenger of God, which has a runtime of 3 hrs. 17 min.

Shamitabh carries over for a second week at MovieMax, Cantera 17 and South Barrington 30, which also holds over Baby for a fourth week.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Temper (Telugu w/no subtitles) at MovieMax, Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, and Yennai Arindhaal (Tamil w/English subtitles) at MovieMax and Seven Bridges. MovieMax also carries Anegan (Tamil) and Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju (Telugu), as well as English-language coverage of the India vs. Pakistan Cricket World Cup match on Saturday night.

Bollywood Box Office: February 6-8

2015 is off to a slow start for Bollywood movies at the North American box office, and the opening weekend figures for Shamitabh reinforce that trend. According to Rentrak figures supplied to Bollywood Hungama, Shamitabh earned $215,512 from 137 theaters ($1,573 average) during the weekend of February 6-8, 2015. Box Office Mojo’s reported earnings for Shamitabh are only slightly better: $241,720 from 137 theaters ($1,764 average).

Though the sample size isn’t huge, the per-screen averages of Bollywood films that opened in North America in 2015 are down considerably from 2014. The four Hindi movies released in the United States and Canada during the same time period last year posted per-screen averages of $3,270; $141; $4,469; and $3,895. Compare those figures to the averages of the six Hindi movies released in 2015 to date: $1,007; $397; $4,393; $1,557; $251; and $1,573.

Whether it’s a case of too many films opening in too many theaters — 125 screens for Tevar? — or a lack of interest in the movies available, it’s harder to get people to come out to the cinema this year. It will be interesting to see how that affects the screen counts of films released later in the year. If theaters can earn more from a four-week-old Hollywood movie, what’s the incentive to program a new Hindi film that doesn’t have a Khan in a leading role? (No, that doesn’t include Saif Ali Khan.)

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Baby: Week 3; $12,660 from seven theaters; $1,809 average; $718,340 total
  • PK: Week 8; $7,142 from four theaters; $1,786 average; $10,456,943 total
  • Dolly Ki Doli: Week 3; $1,889 from four theaters; $472 average; $173,741 total
  • Hawaizaada: Week 2; $215 from five theaters; $43 average; $21,902 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening February 6: Shamitabh

Amitabh Bachchan’s Shamitabh is the only new Hindi film opening in the Chicago area on February 6, 2015. This is the helpful plot description at IMDb: “Two people come together for a purpose, but drift apart due to their egos.”

Shamitabh opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, 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. 30 min.

Baby carries over for a third week at the South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, and MovieMax, which also holds over Hawaizaada.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Yennai Arindhaal (Tamil w/English subtitles) at the Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, and MovieMax, which also carries Picket 43 (Malayalam) and the Telugu movies Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju, Gaddam Gang, and Pataas.