I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because two awful movies starring Saif Ali Khan were just added to the service. (Also, Singham is back on Netflix again.) The 2014 slapstick comedy Humshakals is now available for streaming, as is 2013’s Bullett Raja. While Bullett Raja is simply a mess, Humshakals is offensive and mean. Both films are so terrible that they made my annual “Worst Bollywood Movies” lists in 2013 and 2014.
This is the sixth “worst movies of the year” post I’ve written, and every year the worst movies share the same problems: bad plot construction, unintentionally unlikable protagonists, and the reprehensible treatment of female characters. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
Most of this year’s crop of bad movies have the standard problems, but I give credit to Zila Ghaziabad for making it onto the list for a whole new reason: failure to appreciate the strength of the Censor Board’s opposition to smoking.
While all Indian filmmakers know that scenes in which a character smokes are likely to be tagged with an onscreen warning that reads, “Cigarette smoking is injurious to health,” director Anand Kumar refused to capitulate in Zila Ghaziabad. As a result, the warning appears onscreen for nearly half of the movie. It’s so distracting that I’m almost convinced it was deliberate and that the whole movie is Kumar’s dig at the Censor Board.
Among movies that stunk in more conventional fashion, Bajatey Raho, Bullett Raja, and Fukrey were full of plot holes that never should’ve made it out of a first draft, let alone into a finished project. Fukrey wins bonus points for a racist scene in which a character refers to a group of black bodyguards as the “Chicago Bulls.”
I, Me aur Main and Ramaiya Vastavaiya were hampered by really, really unlikeable lead characters. Not to be outdone, Grand Masti featured not one, but three total jerks in leading roles. I’m awarding bonus points to Grand Masti for racism, sexism, and making a joke about gang rape.
Grand Masti wasn’t the only movie to try to make light of rape or treat it as a plot device. The threat of rape was used to provoke the male leads in R… Rajkumar and Himmatwala. Both movies try to make that case that a woman’s only defense against rape is a strong male family member or boyfriend.
As patronizing as that idea is, it’s still not as abhorrent as the violently sexist message of my worst film of 2013: 3G. This poorly written horror movie cites pornography as the primary reason romantic relationships fail, but never suggests that the problem lies with those who view porn. Instead, it explicitly blames the women who perform in porn (and implicitly blames any woman with a sex drive). Want to get rid of porn? Kill all the porn stars!
At the same time that the movie blames sexually active women for provoking the violence committed against them, directors Shantanu & Sheershak go out of their way to portray actress Sonal Chauhan as a sex object. The camera ogles her breasts and buttocks while she writhes around on the beach and on a kitchen island (something I’m guessing she doesn’t do for fun when she’s at home alone).
Shantanu & Sheershak fail to recognize their own hypocrisy. Who’s more responsible for Chauhan’s depiction as a sex object: Chauhan — a paid performer — or the men who told her what to do and how to pose, filmed her, paid her, and then counted on others to pay to watch what they filmed?
Worst Bollywood Movies of 2013
- 3G — Buy at Amazon
- Grand Masti — Buy at Amazon
- Himmatwala — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
- Fukrey — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
- Bullett Raja — Buy at Amazon
- R… Rajkumar — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
- Ramaiya Vastavaiya — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
- Zila Ghaziabad — Buy at Amazon
- I, Me aur Main — Buy at Amazon
- Bajatey Raho — Buy at Amazon
Previous Worst Movies Lists
The action flick R… Rajkumar hits Chicago area theaters on December 6, 2013. Given that it’s directed by Prabhu Deva, if it has even a hint of plot continuity, I’m going to be impressed.
R… Rajkumar opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 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.
Bullett Raja carries over for a second weekend at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17, despite a weak opening weekend at the U.S. box office. Its $175,727 only beat Ram-Leela by $5,000, and Ram-Leela‘s been out for three weeks.
With total U.S. earnings of $325,885 so far, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein gets a third week at the South Barrington 30.
Bullett Raja is an identity-less hodgepodge of scenes assembled with no master plan. Things happen because, well, this is what happens in movies. Rooftop chase? Check. Love at first sight? Check. Exploding car? Check.
There’s so little connecting the scenes in Bullett Raja that it almost seems like a deliberate choice on writer-director-producer Tigmanshu Dhulia’s part: a middle finger to an audience he assumes will uncritically devour anything, so long as punches are thrown and female torsos bared.
All of Bullett Raja‘s problems stem from an utter lack of character development. Saif Ali Khan’s Raja is a chameleon. He’s whoever he needs to be in any given scene, shifting at will.
The movie begins with Raja crashing a wedding to avoid some goons. (The cause of his beef with the faceless goons is never addressed.) One of the guests, Rudra (Jimmy Shergill), figures out that Raja doesn’t belong there, but befriends him anyway. (Why? Doesn’t matter.) When Raja assists Rudra in a gun battle that disrupts the wedding, the two become best friends forever.
Rudra’s uncle offers to make the two into gangsters, but they refuse because they don’t like violence (the previous day’s shootout already forgotten, apparently). But when Uncle is murdered, the two decide to become the most notorious assassins in Uttar Pradesh. Naturally, right?
Who the heck are these guys who can turn from pacifists into cold-blooded killers in a single day? Rudra and Raja have no independent identities; they only serve the plot. Because of that, it’s impossible to discern what their motives are. Do they want to be rich? Famous? Powerful? It’s never made clear why they do what they do.
Other elements are introduced into the film at random to add color and extend the overly long runtime. There’s the former assassin now living as a woman to avoid prosecution. The guys kidnap a woman, Mitali (Sonakshi Sinha), who immediately falls in love with Raja. Innumerable politicians and businessmen operate in some system that’s never explained. Also, Raja and Rudra become teen idols, because what kid doesn’t want to grow up to be a contract killer?
The introduction of Vidyut Jamwal’s character, Munna, is the clunkiest of all the story’s many clunky elements. A police inspector assures a politician that he knows the perfect man to take out Raja, once and for all. Cut to Officer Munna out in the desert, beating up a gang of bandits who have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the rest of the story.
Why? Why? Why? What do any of the characters hope to gain? Why does anything happen in this whole frigging movie? WHY?!
Fans in the U.S. are getting a gift from Bollywood on Thanksgiving. Director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Bullett Raja opens on Thursday, November 28, 2013, in America, a day before it opens in India. I’m pretty psyched for this black comedy, which stars Saif Ali Khan.
Bullett Raja opens on Thursday in four Chicago area theaters: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 16 min.
Last weekend’s other new release, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, carries over for a second week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.
The Hindi film with the largest presence in Chicago area theaters remains Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, which gets a third week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17, plus the Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. So far, it’s earned $2,269,358 in the U.S.
If you still haven’t caught Krrish 3, the South Barrington 30 carries it over for a fifth week with one show daily. Its U.S. earnings stand at $2,179,948.
For better or worse, Besharam is the main game in town for the foreseeable future. For the weekend beginning Friday, October 4, 2013, Besharam continues its run at all seven of the Chicago area theaters in which it opened on Wednesday.
The only other Hindi movie playing locally is the surprisingly funny Phata Poster Nikla Hero, which has earned $390,207 in the U.S. so far. It gets a third week at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Sadly, Warning gets tossed overboard after just one week.
With upcoming star-studded films timing there releases around major holidays in India (and trying to avoid competing with one another), we’ve likely entered a cycle in the Chicago area in which only one new Hindi movie will open theatrically every other week, as opposed the usual schedule of at least one new movie per week. Apart from a brief flurry of big-time releases in mid-November, the intervening weeks are peppered with the releases of low-budget films from smaller studios featuring no major stars. Those movies may get sizable releases in India, but they aren’t likely to command screenspace in U.S. theaters.
Here’s the schedule of films likely to open in the Chicago area for the remainder of 2013, based on the release dates posted at Bollywood Hungama. (Keep in mind that release dates may change, and we could be surprised with some limited openings of smaller films.)
The trailer for R… Rajkumar — formerly known as Rambo Rajkumar — is out, in advance of the film’s release on December 6. If you’re a fan of bottles breaking over people’s heads, this is the movie for you.
I asked, and I received! Here’s an updated trailer for Bullett Raja with English subtitles. Now that I know what the heck everyone is saying, this movie looks pretty funny. Looking forward to its release on November 29.
The trailer for Bullett Raja — which opens on November 29 — released today. Hopefully Fox Star will release a second version of the trailer with English subtitles, because I can’t discern what the plot is about based on the visuals alone, other than Saif Ali Khan shooting a bunch of people. Nevertheless, I’m excited about Bullett Raja since it’s Vidyut Jamwal’s movie since Commando.
A subtitled version of the trailer for Ram-Leela was also recently released. This is a case where the trailer itself tells such a concise rendition of the story that subtitles are hardly needed (though they are appreciated). As with any movie directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the gorgeous visuals are as much a draw as the narrative, and sexy stars like Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh just add to the visual appeal. Ram-Leela opens on November 15.