Tag Archives: Bollywood

Bollywood Box Office: February 15-17, 2019

I’ve missed a few North American box office reports in recent weeks due to some family health problems, so let’s catch up on the big stories:

Gully Boy just had a monster opening weekend, bringing in $1,833,035 from 255 theaters ($7,188 average) from February 15-17, 2019, according to Bollywood Hungama. Including opening day returns from February 14 makes its total officially $2,129,483, but Monday’s Presidents Day holiday in the United States surely pushed that past the $2.5 million mark.

What the heck is going on with Uri: The Surgical Strike? It just finished its sixth weekend in North America with earnings of $169,506 from 51 theaters ($3,324 average), per Box Office Mojo. Wanna know how many 2018 releases earned more than $100K in their sixth weekend? Zero. Uri‘s continued popularity is remarkable. It closed out the weekend with total earnings of $3,958,534, but it’s past $4 million now thanks to Monday’s holiday.

On the flip side, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga fell off FAST. With Uri still making good money for exhibitors, Ek Ladki dropped 150 theaters going into its third weekend in order to make room for Gully Boy. As a consequence, Ek Ladki earned just $50,000 from 43 theaters ($1,163 average) over the weekend. With total earnings of $1,172,088 (including Presidents Day), it looks like Ek Ladki will struggle to hit $1.2 million here.

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi trailed just behind, with $30,625 from 24 theaters ($1,276 average) in its fourth weekend. It has total earnings of $1,358,850 thus far.

Simmba stuck around in one theater, adding $72 to its $5.1 million total.

And while I know Amavas played in at least one US theater over the weekend, I don’t have any earnings numbers for it. Suffice it to say, the numbers would certainly be worse that the horror film’s opening weekend last weekend: $606 from seven theaters ($87 average). Truly terrifying.

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

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In Theaters: February 8, 2019

One new Hindi film opens in Chicago area theaters on February 8, 2019, and it’s up against stiff competition from early Bollywood releases. Nargis Fakhri stars in the horror movie Amavas, from Alone director Bhushan Patel.

Amavas opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 14 min.

Last weekend’s big hit — Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga — holds over at MovieMax, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi gets a third week at MovieMax, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17.

Uri: The Surgical Strike carries over for a fifth week at the River East 21, MovieMax, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Movie Review: Tumbbad (2018)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Tumbbad on Amazon Prime

Hindi-film fans in the United States had to wait until Tumbbad made its streaming video debut to finally catch the horror movie that captivated audiences in India and at film festivals around the world. But boy was it worth the wait! Filmmaker Rahi Anil Barve’s fable eschews metaphor in favor of shockingly literal depictions of its underlying mythology. It is a cautionary tale of the dangers of greed — with consequences presented in brutal detail. That the film’s protagonist forges ahead, knowing full well what doom awaits him, highlights how all-consuming the desire for more can be.

Broken into three chapters, Tumbbad begins in 1918, in a fading village bearing the same name as the title. Tumbbad’s governing family gained its wealth by worshiping Hastar, the disgraced son of the Goddess of Prosperity, imprisoned in his mother’s womb for stealing her gold. Legend has it that there is a treasure hidden in Tumbbad’s mansion, but the aged lord of the manor (played by Madhav Hari Josh) won’t divulge its secrets — not even to his mistress (Jyoti Malshe), with whom he fathered two sons: Vinayak (Dhundiraj Prabhakar Joglekar) and Sadashiv (Rudra Soni).

The lord’s mistress is tasked not only with meeting his carnal needs, but also keeping alive his ancient grandmother (played by Piyush Kaushik), while making sure she never wakes up. The mistress’s family lives in the same house as the scary old lady, and though the kids don’t know the details of her curse, preteen Vinayak is pretty sure his grandmother knows something about the treasure. A series of tragedies give the boy his chance to ask Granny directly — a mistake that nearly costs him his life. Saved by Mom, they flee to Pune.

Chapter Two picks up fifteen years later, in 1933. With Mom dead, now-adult Vinayak (Sohum Shah) is freed from his promise to her never to return to Tumbbad. Their old house still stands, and Granny is, to put it politely, in bad shape. Her appearance reminded me of something out of Lars Von Trier’s Danish TV series The Kingdom, which gave me nightmares for weeks. Granny gives Vinayak the information he needs to find the treasure, calling him a “greedy bastard.” “It’s my only quality,” he replies.

Tumbbad‘s straightforward dialogue makes it highly memorable, like Granny’s ominous warning: “Not all that is inherited should be claimed.” In Chapter Three, Vinayak’s 14-year-old son Pandurang (Mohammad Samad) tells his mother, Vaidehi (Anita Date), that his father doesn’t actually like anything, despite having accumulated a massive fortune. Vaidehi asks, “Then what’s the point?”

That’s Tumbbad‘s ultimate lesson: succumbing to greed means surrendering one’s will to a desire that can never be sated, leaving you miserable and mean as a result. The lure of unlimited treasure makes Vinayak willing to take risks that seem insane, given that he knows how horrible and immediate the consequences are, with Granny as his example. Chapter Three is set in 1947, and with age catching up to him, Vinayak is compelled to train Pandurang in the family business. It’s an act of unthinkable cruelty that takes advantage of the boy’s desire to win his father’s love. Poor Pandurang doesn’t understand that his father has no love to give.

Setting the film in the first half of the 20th Century allows for interesting parallels to India’s national independence, and the limited reach of electronic technology creates a chilling atmosphere. Atmosphere is where Tumbbad really excels, after all. Eerie locations and sets are awash in supersaturated colors, the dark mood enhanced a fantastic, menacing score by video game composer Jesper Kyd. All the acting performances fit so perfectly into the world of Tumbbad, as well. The longer I ruminate on the movie, the more impressed I am by it.

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Opening January 25: Manikarnika and Thackeray

Two new Hindi films hit Chicago area theaters on January 26, 2019. The wider release of the two goes to Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, starring Kangana Ranuat. In response to right-wing threats leveled against the period drama, Ranaut said: “If they don’t stop then they should know I am also a Rajput and I will destroy each one of them.” Awesome.

Manikarnika opens Friday 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, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville. MovieMax is also showing the film in Telugu and Tamil at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Manikarnika has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 53 min.

The weekend’s other new release is Thackeray, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the far-right political leader Bal Thackeray.

Thackeray also opens Friday at MovieMax, Cantera 17, and the AMC Niles 12 in Niles. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 10 min.

Uri: The Surgical Strike carries over for a third week at the River East 21, MovieMax, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and the AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

The South Barrington 24 also holds over The Accidental Prime Minister and Simmba.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: January 18-20, 2019

Uri: The Surgical Strike built on a good first weekend in North America and turned out an even better second weekend. After adding 16 theaters for the weekend of January 18-20, 2019, Uri earned $839,991 from 117 theaters ($7,179 average), according to Box Office Mojo. Those earnings are up about 33% from last weekend, bringing its total earnings thus far to $1,797,969. But, as film critic Josh Hurtado tweeted, don’t expect this impressive feat to garner any attention from mainstream publications in North America.

Simmba held on to second place among Hindi releases in North America, earning $140,441 from 70 theaters ($2,006 average) and bringing its total to $4,981,911 by the end of its fourth weekend. Its earnings from Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday surely pushed it past the $5 million mark.

Last weekend’s other new release — The Accidental Prime Minister — earned $122,703 from 38 theaters ($1,629 average), according to Bollywood Hungama, bringing its total to $217,911.

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, and Box Office Mojo

2018 Access Bollywood Wrap-Up

With my Best Movies and Worst Movies lists posted, it’s time to bid farewell to 2018 (at least until I do one final box office post for the year). It was a phenomenal year for Access Bollywood! We celebrated the site’s 10th anniversary on September 13, an accomplishment I can still hardly believe. This was also Access Bollywood’s best year in terms of viewership, by far. We closed out 2018 with an astonishing 1,787,087 pageviews! That’s up from 1,057,489 views in 2017. Just looking at those numbers renders me speechless.

In case you’re curious, Access Bollywood’s most-viewed movie review of 2018 was…1971’s Anand? The internet is a mysterious place.

I am grateful to everyone who visited Access Bollywood in 2018. Special thanks to the generous folks who donated via PayPal, and to those who purchased something via one of my Amazon links or signed up for a free Prime trial, since I receive a small commission from Amazon whenever you do. You all help keep the lights on here at Access Bollywood HQ.

Have a wonderful 2019, everyone! — Kathy

Kathy’s 2018 Bollywood Movie Rankings

Note: I didn’t get to review Tumbbad until after I’d finished this list. I’d rank it 2nd for the year.

  1. Andhadhun — 4 Stars
  2. Raazi — 3.5 Stars
  3. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero — 3.5 Stars
  4. Veere Di Wedding — 3.5 Stars
  5. Stree — 3.5 Stars
  6. Beyond the Clouds — 3 Stars
  7. Karwaan — 3 Stars
  8. Welcome to New York — 3 Stars
  9. Pataakha — 3 Stars
  10. Kedarnath — 3 Stars
  11. Hichki — 3 Stars
  12. 102 Not Out — 3 Stars
  13. Pari — 2.5 Stars
  14. Love Per Square Foot — 2.5 Stars
  15. Once Again — 2.5 Stars
  16. Manmarziyaan — 2.5 Stars
  17. Thugs of Hindostan — 2 Stars
  18. Padmaavat — 2 Stars
  19. Vodka Diaries — 2 Stars
  20. Gold — 2 Stars
  21. Fanney Khan — 1.5 Stars
  22. Aiyaary — 1.5 Stars
  23. Race 3 — 1.5 Stars
  24. October — 1 Star
  25. Zero — 0.5 Stars

In Theaters: January 18, 2019

Why Cheat India didn’t make the journey overseas, but there are still three Hindi films showing in Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning Friday, January 18, 2019. After a very good opening weekend, Uri carries over 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.

The Accidental Prime Minister gets a second week at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Simmba holds over for a fourth week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and Woodridge 18.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: January 11-13, 2019

The first two new Hindi films of 2019 fared really well in their opening weekend in North America. The wider release of the two — Uri — earned $536,179 from 96 theaters ($5,585 average) during the weekend of January 11-13, according to Bollywood Hungama. Released on about a third as many screens, The Accidental Prime Minister earned $122,703 from 38 theaters ($3,229 average). Those average theater earnings are better than the averages of most of the movies currently in the top ten at the overall North American box office, showing again what a good bet Bollywood movies are for exhibitors.

Simmba continued its impressive run for a third weekend, taking in $318,223 from 136 theaters ($2,340 average), according to Box Office Mojo. That brought its total to $4,717,024.

Other Hindi films still in North American theaters:

  • K.G.F — Chapter 1: Week 4; $3,125 from five theaters; $625 average; $773,813 total
  • Zero: Week 4; $1,022 from three theaters; $341 average; $2,300,528 total

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, and Box Office Mojo

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2018

As with my Best Bollywood Movies post, I’m only including five titles in my Worst Bollywood Movies list for 2018. There simply weren’t enough Hindi films terrible enough to warrant such a dubious distinction. But believe me, those that did make the list earned their spots.

In fifth place is Fanney Khan, a dull but mostly harmless family film, except for one very troublesome subplot. The parents of aspiring teenage singer Lata (Pihu Sand) fret that their daughter will be pressured to trade sex for stardom. Yet her father Fanney (Anil Kapoor) has no problem trading another woman’s body in exchange for Lata’s success, kidnapping Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s pop star character to do so. That sound you hear is me smacking myself in the forehead.

Aiyaary makes the list due to its muddled writing. Filmmaker Neeraj Pandey belabors obvious points while glossing over complicated conspiracies in this bland, slow spy thriller, starring Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee.

Race 3 is another bloated narrative mess. I’m a fan of director Remo D’Souza’s movies ABCD and A Flying Jatt, but this franchise outing proves how hard it can be to include a superstar actor in an ensemble picture, while still allotting said superstar a disproportionately large portion of screentime. It also proves that Salman Khan’s star power doesn’t guarantee a movie’s box office success (more on that to come).

The two worst Hindi films of 2018 are bad for many of the same reasons. Both bungle their handling of traumatic injury and disability. Both feature loathsome male protagonists who depend on the suffering of women in order to grow emotionally — only the protagonists don’t actually undergo any emotional growth.

That’s how October wound up in second place for the year. Varun Dhawan plays the awful male lead in question. His character is obsessed with a comatose co-worker because he thinks she may have harbored feelings for him before the accident that injured her. The premise is plain gross, made all the worse by Varun’s character inserting himself into the finer details of her medical care (he LOVES checking her catheter bag). Even after the co-worker regains consciousness, her brain and body are so damaged that she can’t tell him to leave her alone if she wishes him to do so, let alone physically push him away. He takes advantage of her vulnerability, and he ends the movie no more morally improved than he was at the beginning.

As demoralizing as October is, first place goes to a movie that failed on a grander scale. Zero is my Worst Bollywood Movie of 2018. Granted, Shah Rukh Khan’s film wasn’t the biggest box office flop by one of the Three Khans for the year (in North America, that honor belongs to Aamir Khan’s Thugs of Hindostan). But Zero was easily the most offensive of the year’s disappointing films. Khan plays Bauua, a man with dwarfism —  his diminutive stature achieved using CGI and camera techniques — who falls in love with Aafia (Anushka Sharma), a woman with cerebral palsy. Writer Wendy Lu posted a piece on Huffington Post just yesterday explaining the problems with able-bodied actors playing disabled characters in Hollywood, and the same problems apply to the two lead actors in Zero. This is a movie that should never have gotten off the drawing board.

Yet Zero went ahead, and the resultant movie is even worse than feared. Not only is the movie out-of-step in the way it treats disability, it’s also sexist. Bauua thinks Aafia is his equal since they’re the same height when she’s in her wheelchair — never mind that she’s a rocket scientist and he’s an almost-40 high school dropout who’s never held a job. The rest of the story is utterly ridiculous. The only person who emerges from Zero with an unblemished reputation is Katrina Kaif, whose excellent performance stands to be overlooked, as everyone else tries to pretend that Zero never happened.

Kathy’s Worst Bollywood Movies of 2018

  1. Zero
  2. October — Buy at Amazon/watch on Prime
  3. Race 3 — watch on Prime
  4. Aiyaary — Buy at Amazon
  5. Fanney Khan — watch on Prime

Previous Worst Movies Lists

Best Bollywood Movies of 2018

In 2018, it feels like most of the Hindi films I reviewed fell into the “okay” category — not horrible but not necessarily outstanding either. Only five movies merited a star-rating of 3.5 or higher, and just five earned a star-rating of 1.5 or lower. (Obligatory critic’s disclaimer that star-ratings are convenient shorthand lacking context, so please read the reviews!) As a result, I’m only doing a Top 5 and Bottom 5 for 2018.

That said, I think the movies at the top of the list are fantastic for different reasons, and I’d love to revisit all of them someday. Let’s see what made the list!

[Note: I didn’t get to review Tumbbad until after I’d written this post. I’d rank it in second place for the year.]

One of the year’s most delightful surprises was the horror comedy Stree. I wasn’t even sure it was going to open in the United States, given that movies starring Stree‘s lead pair — Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor — aren’t locks for international release. Thank goodness it did, because Stree was a ton of fun, weaving hilarious moments with a progressive message discouraging male objectification of women.

While Stree was about how men view women, Veere Di Wedding was as woman-centric as can be. The female buddy comedy gave wider latitude to its characters than most women are allowed onscreen in Bollywood, and it did so while being positive and uplifting. I have a soft spot for movies about nice people behaving nicely, and Veere Di Wedding was just that.

A buddy film of a different sort, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero follows a trio of vigilantes and what happens when two of them abandon their revolutionary ideals in exchange for middle-class comfort. It’s a timely story of the importance of organized resistance and a rejection of complacency among financially secure citizens, in India and abroad.

In the runner-up spot for 2018 is the top-notch spy thriller Raazi, about a young woman forced to leave her homeland in order to save it. Raazi was another win for women in Hindi cinema–not just because of Alia Bhatt’s riveting performance in the lead role, but because of the two talented women behind the camera: screenwriter Bhavani Iyer and writer-director Meghna Gulzar.

Another thriller was my favorite Bollywood movie of 2018, and the only one to which I awarded 4 stars: director Sriram Raghavan’s fiendishly clever Andhadhun. Ayushmann Khurrana’s first $1 million movie of the year featured him as a blind pianist drawn into danger by a calculating trophy wife, played by a devilish Tabu. Radhika Apte plays Khurrana’s love interest, adding to the talent level of a cast directed by a filmmaker who’s cemented his position as Bollywood’s neo-noir master. Andhadhun is currently on Netflix in the United States, which is great for first-time watchers and those of us who can’t wait to watch it again.

Kathy’s Best Bollywood Movies of 2018

  1. Andhadhun — Buy at Amazon/stream on Netflix
  2. Raazi — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes/stream on Prime
  3. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero — Buy at Amazon/stream on Netflix
  4. Veere Di Wedding
  5. Stree

Previous Best Movies Lists