I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the premiere of the Netflix Original Marathi movie 15 August. A bunch of Hindi movies expire from the service March 30, so tonight is your last chance to watch these titles:
Shah Rukh Khan’s production company Red Chillies Entertainment has a streaming deal with Netflix that lasts through the end of this year, and I’ve wondered when Zero is going to wind up on Netflix. I checked on the other RCE titles produced since the deal was signed, and Dear Zindagi, Jab Harry Met Sejal, and Ittefaq all became available for streaming five months after their theatrical release. The only exception was Raees, which appeared on the service after four months. We can likely expect Zero to join Netflix at the end of May, maybe end of April. Badla is also an RCE production, so look for that in early July, possibly early June.
With Halloween just days away, this is the perfect time to binge some frightening fare on Netflix. Thankfully, the streaming service has a number of Hindi horror films to keep you spooked all weekend long.
Before we dive into Bollywood, allow me to mention some spectacularly scary Korean movies that are also worth checking out. Netflix has my absolute favorite horror film, The Wailing, as well as the terrific zombie thriller Train to Busan and the gut-wrenching monster movie The Host. If you’ve ever wanted to hop on board the K-drama bandwagon, start with the 16-episode TV series Oh My Ghost (aka “Oh My Ghostess“) — a funny and surprisingly touching story of a timid prep cook possessed by the spirit of a horny virgin ghost.
Onto the Hindi horror films on Netflix!
1920 London (2016)
Sharma Joshi plays an exorcist tasked with removing an ancient Rajasthani curse from a London couple in the third film in the 1920 series.
Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007)
This time, Akshay Kumar is an exorcist who must displace the vengeful spirit of a court dancer from Vidya Balan. Balan’s performance in the thrilling climactic dance number is worth the price of admission, in my book.
Horror Story (2013)
This scary tale of college students trapped in haunted hotel is based on the Stephen King short story “1408“, which spawned a movie of the name starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson in 2007.
Kal Kissne Dekha is a movie about a young man with a special power: the power to bore an audience to tears by relying on Bollywood cliches.
The young man in question is Nihul (Jackky Bhagnani), a country boy who can see the future. He leaves his lonely, heartbroken mother and heads to a university in the city to become a scientist.
As is the case in many Hindi films these days, Nihul is supposedly the most awesome guy ever. He doesn’t do anything to warrant this status; it’s simply that he’s the protagonist and the plot demands it.
However, there’s a group of cool kids at college who don’t like the flashy newcomer. The mean guy and the snobby girl pick on Nihul until his psychic ability allows him to save their lives. Only then do they realize how fabulous Nihul really is.
In between motorcycle chases, fight scenes and dance numbers, Nihul falls in love with the snobby girl, Nisha (Vaishali Desai). Not for any good reason, mind you, but because the plot demands it. Then the requisite gangsters, gay stereotypes, terrorists and incompetent policemen show up, just to make sure no Bollywood cliche is left behind. It’s as though the film was written by checking items off of a list.
Kal Kissne Dekha is writer-director Vivek Sharma’s second effort, following last year’s forgettable Bhoothnath. I’d appreciate it if he’d stop making movies, and not try to see if the third time is the charm. Sharma’s storytelling style insults the audience’s intelligence by relying on cliches and stunts in place of even the barest hint of character development. And he shamelessly includes two of the young stars of Slumdog Millionaire in brief cameo appearances in order to capitalize on their fame.
If Sharma insists on writing and directing more movies, he needs to abandon two themes present in both of his efforts to date. First is the notion that the only route to popularity is by using a supernatural ability to save someone. In Bhoothnath, the young protagonist relies on his ghostly pal to pull the school bully out of a well, thereby winning the bully’s friendship. As a moral to a story, it’s a pretty depressing one for those of us without superpowers.
The second bizarre theme is that disaster befalls those who dare move out of their parents’ homes. It’s blatant in Bhoothnath, but it also crops up in Kal Kissne Dekha, as when Nihul tells his mother, “I never should have left home.” It’s a conservative message that doesn’t mesh with the fact that, by moving to the city, Nihul gets to study science, make friends and meet his girlfriend — stuff he couldn’t have done in his small village.
Part supernatural family comedy and part melodrama, Bhoothnath unsuccessfully tries to appeal to everyone. In the amusing first half, a young boy named Banku befriends a ghost named Nath, played by Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan. A schoolyard showdown reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video is particularly entertaining. The second half drags, as the ghost’s backstory becomes a bizarre parable warning adult children of the dire consequences of moving away from their childhood homes.
No Rating; 136 minutes
This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on May 15, 2008