Tag Archives: Bollywood

Opening March 21: Kesari

In time for Holi, Akshay Kumar’s historical war drama Kesari opens in Chicago area theaters on Thursday, March 21, 2019.

Kesari opens Thursday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It expands to the AMC Niles 12 in Niles on Friday. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

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):

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Bollywood Box Office: March 15-17, 2019

Badla held up extremely well in its second weekend in North America. It retained almost 80% of its opening weekend business after expanding into 21 more theaters, earning $465,342 from 115 theaters ($4,046 average) during the weekend of March 15-17, 2019, according to Box Office Mojo. Its $1,313,740 total currently ranks fifth for the year among Hindi films released in North America, but it will pass Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi and move into fourth place before next weekend.

Other Bollywood movies still showing in North America:

  • Gully Boy: Week 5; $103,572 from 60 theaters; $1,726 average; $5,300,978 total
  • Luka Chuppi: Week 3; $66,815 from 54 theaters; $1,237 average; $963,904 total
  • Total Dhamaal: Week 4; $59,133 from 54 theaters; $1,095 average; $2,151,507 total
  • Uri: Week 10; $6,586 from five theaters; $1,317 average; $4,183,341 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

In Theaters: March 15, 2019

The March 15, 2019, release date for Ritesh Batra’s Photograph is for India only. We won’t get it in the States until May 17. Looks like Chicago area Bollywood fans will have to make due with the films already available this weekend.

Last weekend’s new release Badla, carries over at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and expands to the AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Gully Boy gets a fifth week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17 all hold over Luka Chuppi and Total Dhamaal.

Other Indian movies showing in Chicago area theaters (all films have English subtitles unless indicated):

Movie Review: Gully Boy (2019)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes
Watch Gully Boy: Live in Concert on Amazon Prime

Aspiring filmmakers should study Gully Boy as a masterclass in character creation. Every character has a place in the story’s social fabric, and we see how they fit into the wider world — not just how they relate to the protagonist.

Murad (Ranveer Singh) is the spoke around which the rest of the characters in Gully Boy turn, but there’s always a sense that they have lives that continue when he’s not around. Murad suspects his criminal friend Moeen (Vijay Varma) is up to something dangerous, but he isn’t sure, since they’re not together all the time. The parents of their buddy Salman (Nakul Roshan Sahdev) are looking for a bride for him — something Murad’s fiery girlfriend Safeena (Alia Bhatt) uses to her advantage when the couple are on the outs.

Too often, Hindi movies with a male protagonist played by a big star consider the hero’s love interest only in terms of how she relates to him. Director Zoya Akhtar and writer Reema Kagti make sure that Safeena’s character is fully developed, showing her relationships with her parents and Murad’s friends. This doesn’t take away from Murad’s importance to the story, but instead emphasizes how he fits into his world. Giving all the characters agency adds to the movie’s realism and reinforces the notion that Murad’s actions have consequences for other people.

He and Safeena have kept their relationship secret from their parents for years, assuming that they’ll announce their intention to married when she finishes medical school and he earns a business degree. When Murad begins participating in the local rap scene, it changes the trajectory of his life and Safeena’s. Even though she supports his new endeavor, it means adjusting the plans for their future, since rapper isn’t an occupation that any of their conservative parents would approve of. A powerful scene in which Safeena asks her parents for the freedom to go places other than school highlights what she and Murad are up against, if he strays from the safe path to follow his dream.

Murad’s lyrics are born out of anger at the injustice that defines his world and limits his opportunities. His father, Aftab (Vijay Raaz in a chilling performance), accepts the limits imposed on poor Muslims and views educating Murad as a waste of money, since he’ll likely just end up a driver like his father anyway. Quashing Murad’s aspirations is a way of protecting himself from the truth that his own life might be better had he allowed himself to dream, instead of accepting what was forced upon him.

Gully Boy doesn’t pretend that Murad can succeed on desire alone, given the enormous societal forces he has to contend with at both the top and bottom of India’s economic ladder. He hones his craft under the tutelage of MC Sher (star-in-the-making Siddhant Chaturvedi), an established local rapper who understands Murad’s frustration and sees him as a voice for the underdogs in their neighborhood.

Ranveer Singh did his own rapping in the film, and the music overall is really good. (It would have been nice if the lyrics of the incidental music had been subtitled, and not just the lyrics from Murad’s scenes.) The lone weak points in Gully Boy are rap battle scenes — insult contests that have little in common with Murad’s introspective lyric-writing. I don’t know if one must be adept at rap battles to be considered a good rapper — or how one even wins a rap battle — but the sequences are dull.

Although Gully Boy isn’t an ensemble picture like Akhtar’s two most recent feature films — 2015’s Dil Dhadakne Do and 2011’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara — it almost feels as though it is, given how much care went into fleshing out the characters in orbit around the protagonist. Akhtar’s fascination with the connections between people sets her apart from her contemporaries and makes her one of India’s most compelling filmmakers.

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Bollywood Box Office: March 8-10, 2019

Badla had the second-best opening-weekend per-screen average for the year so far in North America. From March 8-10, 2019, the thriller earned $596,446 from 94 theaters ($6,345 average), according to Box Office Mojo. That opening-weekend per-screen average ranks just ahead of Uri: The Surgical Strike‘s $6,249 but well behind Gully Boy‘s $7,927.

Luka Chuppi held steady in its second weekend, per Bollywood Hungama’s reporting, earning $179,166 from 103 theaters ($1,739 average) and bringing its total to $814,426. Last weekend‘s other new release — Sonchiriya — continued on its tragic path, holding over just 5% of its opening weekend business. Box Office Mojo reports earnings of just $2,880 from eight theaters ($360 average), for total earnings of $85,148.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Gully Boy: Week 4; $192,665 from 106 theaters; $1,818 average; $5,117,529 total
  • Total Dhamaal: Week 3; $156,180 from 118 theaters; $1,324 average; $2,020,732 total
  • Uri: Week 9; $13,020 from nine theaters; $1,447 average; $4,173,302 total
  • Manikarnika: Week 7; $204 from one theater; $1,385,664 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Opening March 8: Badla

Releasing in Chicago area theaters on March 8, 2019, Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh’s thriller Badla reunites Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan for the first time since their 2016 hit Pink.

Badla opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hours.

Another new release of interest to Bollywood fans is the India-set, English-language film The Wedding Guest, starring Dev Patel, Radhika Apte, and Jim Sarbh. The thriller opens locally in limited release at the River East 21 and Century Centre Cinema in Chicago.

Luka Chuppi looks to build on its solid opening weekend performance, carrying over at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Last weekend’s other new release — Sonchiriya — only holds over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Total Dhamaal is still going strong at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, Buffalo Grove Theater in Buffalo Grove, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Same goes for Gully Boy, which gets a fourth week at the River East 21, MovieMax, Niles 12, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, Naperville 16, and Woodridge 18.

Uri: The Surgical Strike sticks around for a ninth week at the South Barrington 24.

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

Bollywood Box Office: March 1-3, 2019

The two most recent Hindi releases had very different opening weekends in North America. The Kriti Sanon-Karthik Aaryan romantic comedy Luka Chuppi did well, taking in $440,705 from 144 theaters ($3,060 average), according to Bollywood Hungama.

On the other hand, Sonchiriya did really poorly, especially considering the number of theaters it opened in. The bandit drama earned $60,170 from 70 theaters ($860 average), per Box Office Mojo. Sonchiriya‘s per-theater average is half that of the next-worst opening weekend average this year: Thackeray‘s $1,729. I’m a fan of director Abhishek Chaubey — the man responsible for great films like Udta Punjab, Ishqiya, and Dedh Ishqiyaso this is a big bummer.

Other Hindi films still showing in North America:

  • Total Dhamaal: Week 2; $439,983 from 209 theaters; $2,015 average; $1,736,909 total
  • Gully Boy: Week 3; 411,409 from 164 theaters; $2,509 average; $4,783,800 total
  • Uri: Week 8; $34,511 from 15 theaters; $2,301 average; 4,155,109 total
  • Manikarnika: Week 6; $775 from two theaters; $388 average; $1,385,664

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Opening March 1: Luka Chuppi and Sonchiriya

Two new Hindi films hit Chicago area theaters on March 1, 2019. First up is the romantic comedy Luka Chuppi, starring Kriti Sanon and Karthik Aaryan.

Luka Chuppi opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 7 min.

Also new this weekend is Sonchiriya, from Udta Punjab director Abhishek Chaubey. The action film stars Bhumi Pednekar, Sushant Singh Rajput, and Manoj Bajpayee.

Sonchiriya opens Friday at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min.

After a great opening weekend, Total Dhamaal carries over at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, Arclight Chicago in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, Arclight Glenview in Glenview, Buffalo Grove Theater in Buffalo Grove, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Gully Boy gets a third weekend at the River East 21, MovieMax, Niles 12, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, Naperville 16, Woodridge 18, and Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach.

Uri: The Surgical Strike carries over at the South Barrington 24 and Cantera 17.

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

Movie Review: Period. End of Sentence. (2018)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Period. End of Sentence. on Netflix

Netflix’s Oscar-winning short documentary Period. End of Sentence. (PEoS hereafter) is a feel-good story about a group of Indian women empowering themselves and their community through better access to menstrual hygiene products.

Feminine hygiene has been a popular film subject in India for several years, starting with Menstrual Man, the 2013 documentary about Arunchalam Muruganatham, inventor of a low-cost machine for making sanitary pads. Muruganatham then inspired two fictional Hindi films: 2017’s Phullu and 2018’s Pad Man, starring Akshay Kumar. (Kumar’s 2017 movie Toilet: Ek Prem Katha also addressed the related need for clean, safe bathroom facilities for women in rural India.)

American-produced PEoS is a succinct primer on the subject of feminine hygiene in India — an ideal entry point for those new to the topic, particularly in the West. Director Rayka Zehtabchi and editor Sam Davis had to be choosy about what elements to include, given the film’s 25-minute runtime, so the film focuses less on the dangers faced by rural women and more on the positive outcomes for one village when they receive one of Muruganatham’s pad-making machines.

Thankfully, the village where PEoS filmed is populated by a bunch of funny, smart, and eager women who make great documentary subjects. Kathikhera in Hapur district is only 60 kilometers from Delhi, but local women find their opportunities limited without ready access to feminine hygiene products. Rekha dropped out of school because there was nowhere to change the old cloths she uses during her cycle. Shabana is tired of the taboos surrounding menstruation. Sneha wants to be able to work during her period so she can become a police officer.

When they receive one of Muruganatham’s machines — and instructions from the man himself on how to use it — the women of Kathikhera get more than just a reliable supply of sanitary pads for themselves. The machine spawns a new business, with the women selling their products under the name “Fly” — the name chosen to inspire women to soar on their newfound freedom.

Money generated by the business is the most obvious benefit, but the soft skills it teaches the women may be of more importance in the long run. One elderly woman says that making pads is her first paying job. Sneha’s novice saleswoman duties will make her a better communicator as a police officer. Shabana is in her element leading the feminine hygiene version of a Tupperware party, demonstrating the quality of their products while humorously comparing sanitary pads to husbands.

The reason this works best as a starter film is that it simply isn’t long enough to cover the topic in depth, though it does allude to many of the challenges. Overcoming embarrassment about discussing the topic is the first step, which enables the correction of misinformation (some young men in Kathikhera think menstruation is an illness). Safe toilet facilities for women and reliable electricity infrastructure are critical elements, too.

Another reason for PEoS‘s positive tone is its affiliation with the charitable endeavor The Pad Project, which aims to provide more rural women with pad-making machines. Donors — such as the Los Angeles private school students who financed both the film and Kathikhera’s machine — are more incentivized to contribute to immediately successful endeavors, as the one in the movie is shown to be.

When faced with a large problem with multiple, entrenched causes, one must ultimately choose a starting point and go from there. In the case of access to feminine hygiene products in rural India, Period. End of Sentence. shows that women’s human capital is there to be utilized if given the means to do so, and pad-making machines are as good a place to start as any. Click here to support The Pad Project.

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Bollywood Box Office: February 22-24, 2019

Total Dhamaal made nearly $1 million in its opening weekend in North America. From February 22-24, 2019, the comedy sequel earned $989,387 from 202 theaters ($4,898 average), according to Box Office Mojo.

That was just enough to steal the crown from Gully Boy, which earned $976,466 from 269 theaters ($3,630 average, and eleven more theaters than last weekend). After eleven days, Gully Boy has earned an impressive $4,216,437.

Uri: The Surgical Strike also crossed the $4 million mark thanks to the $73,360 from 38 theaters ($1,931 average) in nabbed in its seventh weekend. It’s North American total stands at $4,098,102.

Manikarnika closed out its fifth weekend with $9,066 from thirteen theaters ($697 average; $1,382,558 total), while Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga earned $1,557 from three theaters ($519 average; $1,172,088 total) in its fourth weekend, per Bollywood Hungama.

The first two months of 2019 have been terrific for Bollywood movies in North America. All of the titles above have made over $1 million here (assuming that Total Dhamaal made more than $11,000 on Monday), with two having earned more than $4 million. Besides these titles, the two biographical political dramas that released here — The Accidental Prime Minister and Thackeray — both earned over $100,000. (25% of Hindi films released here last year failed to hit that benchmark.) The only flop has been the horror movie Amavas, which only played in seven theaters. This year is off to a heckuva start!

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo