To give you a sense of just how big Amazon’s Indian catalog is, I recently removed about 80 expired links from my list, and it only reduced the count to 2,428 movies. If you wanted to watch a different Indian movie on Prime every day, it would take you six-and-a-half years to see all of them — and that’s only if Amazon didn’t add any new films!
Kalank‘s second weekend in North American theaters could have been worse, but it was still pretty bad. From April 26-28, 2019, the period drama earned $278,720 from 283 theaters ($985 average), according to Box Office Mojo. That brings its 12-day total to $2,482,587.
For perspective on Kalank‘s performance, I looked at the 25 most widely released Hindi films in North America since 2014 (excluding multilingual movies like Baahubali 2) to see how they fared from their first weekend to their second. Kalank released into the 8th highest number of theaters in its opening weekend (320), and it ranks 10th in terms of second-weekend theater count (283). Nevertheless, its second-weekend gross of $278,720 ranks way down in 18th (the median is $600,000). Its per-screen average of $985 is even worse, tied for 20th place with Zero. Only six movies among the 25 failed to average $1,000/screen in their second weekends here: Kalank, Zero, Jab Harry Met Sejal, Tubelight, Thugs of Hindostan, and Befikre. This is not a group any movie wants to be a part of.
To be fair to Kalank, it was up against literally the toughest box office competition of all time in Avengers: Endgame, which broke pretty much every record on its way to earning $1.2 billion globally in its opening weekend. That Kalank did as well as it did is kind of remarkable, especially since — at least in the Chicago region — a number of theaters gave Kalank only one showing a day at off-peak times in order to accommodate more showings of Avengers. Still, Kalank‘s underwhelming-on-paper showing will likely cause it to drop at least 2/3 of its remaining theaters in North America come Weekend 3.
Other Hindi movies showing in North American theaters:
The Tashkent Files: Week 3; $6,355 from five theaters; $1,271 average; $44,542 total
Kesari: Week 6; $1,972 from three theaters; $657 average; $1,901,536 total
Badla: Week 8; $348 from two theaters; $174 average; $1,863,181 total
Kalank stormed into North America with the biggest theatrical footprint of the year so far for a Bollywood film, but emerged from its first weekend with less-than-stellar results. From April 19-21, 2019, Kalank earned $1,276,581 from 320 theaters ($3,989 average), according to Box Office Mojo. Adding in collections from the period drama’s first two days of release brought its total to $1,786,766 by the end of the weekend. While Kalank is only the second movie this year to earn more than $1 million in its opening weekend in North America — Gully Boy being the first — it had 60 more theaters than Gully Boy in which to do so. Total Dhamaal was just $11,000 shy of $1 million in its opening weekend, and it only opened in 202 theaters. It was fair to expect better returns given Kalank‘s big theatrical advantage.
143 Cinema reports that Kalank earned another $100,000 on Monday, so it will head into the weekend with $2 million in the bank. I’m interested to see how the movie holds up in its second weekend and beyond since there are no new Hindi films likely to release in the United States and Canada until Student of the Year 2 on May 10 — although Avengers: Endgame is competition enough.
Kesari closed out its fifth weekend with $15,091 from seven theaters. Though that makes for a per-screen average of $2,156, its four US theaters contributed just $1,159 to its haul, according to Bollywood Hungama. Three Canadian theaters accounted for $13,923, making for a Canadian PSA of $4,641. Kesari‘s total stands at $1,893,451.
Other Bollywood movies still in North American theaters:
The Tashkent Files: Week 2; $11,592 from five theaters; $2,318 average; $35,058 total
Romeo Akbar Walter: Week 3; $1,408 from four theaters; $352 average; $226,901 total
Badla: Week 7; $640 from two theaters; $320 average; $1,862,767 total
There’s a lot to like in Badla, but I’m not sure how much any of it matters, since the film’s central mystery is so obvious. I’m no mystery buff, but I sussed things out in the first fifteen minutes.
Wealthy London CEO Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) stands accused of murdering her lover Arjun (Tony Luke) after she wakes up in a hotel room next to his dead body and a pile of cash. She insists that an unknown blackmailer lured them to the hotel, and that the blackmailer knocked her out before killing Arjun.
With Naina stuck in her apartment under house arrest, renowned lawyer Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) arrives to prepare her for trial. Naina’s main attorney, Jimmy (Manav Kaul) — who’s off tracking down a potential witness — says that Badal is the best in the business, and Badal himself assures Naina that he wants her case to be his final victory before retirement.
Naina agrees to tell Badal the whole truth, but she’s surprised when he brings up the case of a missing young man. Though she obfuscates at first, Badal’s hunch is right — there is a connection between the missing man and her dead boyfriend.
Though the entire present-day portion of the story takes place in Naina’s apartment, we see relevant events of the past through flashbacks. Badal and Naina suggest differing interpretations of what happened, and Pannu and Luke alter their characters depending on the version of the story being told. Bachchan’s performance is more limited because his character only interacts with Naina and only within her apartment. And his character’s approach to his client seems overly adversarial.
Badla is based on the 2016 Spanish thriller The Invisible Guest, and it makes sense that Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh would be drawn to its story. Pannu’s role was originally written for a man, and the character’s gender was changed at her insistence. That allowed Ghosh to make a second film about a woman from London whose guile and tenacity are underestimated by the men around her, involved in a crime that’s more complicated than it first seems.
Where Badla falls short of Kahaani‘s success is in the film’s the central mystery and the way information is parceled out. Even as Kahaani‘s heroine Vidya — a pregnant woman played by Vidya Balan — finds new details about her husband’s disappearance, the audience can never be completely sure what’s going on. She’s an unconventional lead for this type of movie, so we don’t have enough information or points of reference to figure things out far in advance.
Badla is more conventional, despite its someone novel technique of keeping Naina and Badal in her apartment and reenacting flashbacks of dubious veracity. Arjun’s murder is a locked-room mystery, so the audience knows to look for clues and discrepancies in the story as presented. The film also shows early on the incident that stars the chain of events ending in Arjun’s murder, so we know to be suspicious of the story we’re being told from that point on.
As I said above, I’m not even a mystery aficionado, but I wrote in my notes early into the film what I suspected was the answer to Badla’s riddle. From that point on, it was just a matter of the film finally proving my guess correct. The story never really gave me a reason to doubt my assumption.
Badla’s short runtime of 118 minutes meant my vindication came quickly, but it was an unsuspenseful two hours. Thankfully, the performances are pretty entertaining, both by Pannu and Luke as well as Amrita Singh, who plays the missing man’s mother. Also, Amaal Mallik’s songs “Kyun Rabba” and “Tum Na Aaye” are fantastic. Badla isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours, it’s just a little disappointing as a mystery.
The North American box office was in a holding pattern during the weekend of April 12-14, 2019, in anticipation of the April 17 release of the guaranteed blockbuster Kalank. The only new Hindi film to open in North America on the 12th was The Tashkent Files, which made just $15,368 from 14 theaters ($1,098 average), according to Bollywood Hungama.
Other Bollywood titles fared little better over the sleepy weekend:
Romeo Akbar Walter: Week 2; $25,698 from 36 theaters; $714 average; $221,648 total
Kesari: Week 4; $19,650 from 16 theaters; $1,228 average; $1,862,580 total
Badla: Week 6; $8,286 from eight theaters; $1,036 average; $1,859,793 total
Gully Boy: Week 9; $422 from one theater; $5,414,386 total
Brief North American Bollywood box office update for the weekend of March 29-31, 2019. Here’s why the weekend’s two new releases — Junglee and Notebook — won’t get a second week in many theaters:
Junglee: $45,221 from 79 theaters; $572 average
Notebook: $18,877 from 39 theaters; $484 average
My friend who works at my local theater said that, over the weekend, the staff had to tell quite a few disappointed customers that, no, they weren’t running a special engagement of the Ryan Gosling film The Notebook.
Other Bollywood movies still in North American theaters:
Kesari: Week 2; $323,533 from 154 theaters; $2,101 average; $1,600,643 total
Badla: Week 4; $75,736 from 58 theaters; $1,306 average; $1,861,000 total
Gully Boy: Week 7; $9,587 from 12 theaters; $799 average; $5,407,188 total
Luka Chuppi: Week 5; $2,802 from seven theaters; $400 average; $1,014,967 total
From March 22-24, 2019, Akshay Kumar’s Kesari took in $836,065 from 178 North American theaters ($4,697 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. Adding in the $88,308 it earned on its opening day (March 21) brings Kesari‘s four-day total to $924,373.
It took Luka Chuppi four weekends, but the romantic comedy finally crossed the $1 million mark. The $18,920 it earned from 26 theaters over the weekend ($728 average) brought its total to $1,005,283.
With Kesari having passed the $1 million mark itself during the course of the week, Luka Chuppi‘s achievement means that eight of the twelve Hindi movies to release in North America in 2019 have earned at least $1 million. That’s kind of mind-boggling. I expect that ratio to even out a bit with the upcoming weekend’s releases — Junglee and Notebook — likely to fall well short $1 million (though I’m crossing my fingers for Junglee‘s success).
Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:
Badla: Week 3; $237,547 from 97 theaters; $2,449 average; $1,712,624 total
Gully Boy: Week 6; $49,473 from 40 theaters; $1,237 average; $5,381,387 total
Total Dhamaal: Week 5; $4,049 from one theater*; $2,167,632 total
Uri: Week 11; $904 from three theaters; $301 average; $4,185,825 total
*Bollywood Hungama’s report only includes Total Dhamaal‘s Canada earnings for the weekend, not its US earnings. The film’s total is from Box Office Mojo.
Two new Hindi films hit Chicago area theaters on March 29, 2019. Martial artist Vidyut Jammwal plays a veterinarian fighting elephant poachers in the action movie Junglee, directed by American filmmaker Chuck Russell, who previously directed Dwayne Johnson in The Scorpion King and Jim Carrey in The Mask.
Also new this weekend is the Salman Khan Films production Notebook, starring newcomers Pranutan Bahl and Zaheer Iqbal.
Notebook opens Friday at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 52 min.
Opening in wide release across Chicagoland this weekend is Hotel Mumbai, an English-language fictional retelling of the 26/11 terror attacks starring Dev Patel, Anupam Kher, and Armie Hammer. It sounds problematic.
On Friday, March 22, Badla starts its third week at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and Naperville 16.
Gully Boy gets a sixth week at the South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and Woodridge 18.
Luka Chuppi holds over for a fourth week at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24, while Total Dhamaal gets a fifth week at the South Barrington 24 and Cantera 17.
In news of movies that aren’t playing in Chicago right now, I’m super bummed that we didn’t get Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (“The Man Who Feels No Pain“). I also expected The Wedding Guest to expand out from Chicago into suburban theaters, but that didn’t happen either. In better news, it looks like Dev Patel & Anupam Kher’s Hotel Mumbai will open wide across the Chicago area next weekend, so that’s cool.
Other Indian movies showing in Chicago area theaters (all films have English subtitles unless indicated):