I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, a new biopic starring Janhvi Kapoor as the first woman to fly in combat for the Indian Air Force. An uplifting film to catch while you can is 2015’s Dhanak, which expires from Netflix on August 20. Two siblings trek across Rajasthan on foot hoping to find Shah Rukh Khan, who they believe can cure the little boy’s blindness. It’s really, really good.
Netflix also released the trailer for the new Original series Masaba Masaba, a fictionalized version of the life of fashion designer Masaba Gupta (daughter of actress Neena Gupta). Both Gupta women star in the series, and the trailer highlights a few celebrity guest cameos.
I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of Indian films added in the last week, including a bunch of Hindi titles from Reliance Entertainment and Shemaroo Entertainment. Here are the ones I’ve reviewed:
If you watch any of these movies, make it Love Story 2050. The vision for the future laid out in this sci-fi flick Priyanka Chopra wishes we’d all forget is hilarious in the worst possible ways. I’d have to re-watch it to be sure, but it might qualify as “so bad, it’s good.”
Vidyut Jammwal’s new action flick Khuda Haafiz debuted on Hotstar today. The streamer also unveiled the trailer for Sanjay Dutt’s Sadak 2, which premieres on August 28.
This post was originally written in 2014. Click here for my 2017 edition.
Halloween is just days away, and although horror flicks are still somewhat rare in Bollywood, there are several creepy Hindi films available for streaming on Netflix to get you in the mood for the holiday.
Raaz 3 (2012)
I loved Bipasha Basu as a movie star so desperate to hold on to her fame that she makes a deal with the devil. Emraan Hashmi plays her conflicted boyfriend, and Esha Gupta the up-and-comer who drives Bipasha to black magic. While by no means terrifying, Raaz 3 does have some eerie, atmospheric sets and fun performances. My review
13B (2009) 13B has a neat premise: a daily soap opera predicts the horrors that await a family in their new apartment, but only the husband (played by R. Madhavan) realizes the show’s significance. While more of a creepy thriller than out-and-out horror flick, it serves as an entertaining satire on obsessive TV viewing habits. My review
Dangerous Ishhq (2012)
The best thing to be said for Dangerous Ishhq is that it’s a pretty film to look at. Karishma Kapoor returned to the screen after nine years to play a model who hallucinates the deadly events of her past lives. This supernatural murder mystery makes up the rules as it goes along, and the acting is just okay. My review
Gauri: The Unborn (2007)
Atul Kulkarni and Rituparna Sengupta play a married couple who must protect their daughter from a spirit that seeks to claim her. Sounds scary.
Dangerous Ishhq (“Dangerous Love”) looks like a good movie, but visually pleasing sets and costumes can’t make up for poor performances.
Karisma Kapoor returns from a nine-year acting hiatus to play Sanjana, a supermodel preparing to move to Paris. She cancels her trip when she senses that something bad is going to befall her boyfriend, Rohan (Rajneesh Duggal). Her premonition proves correct when Rohan is kidnapped the next day.
Sanjana, who suffers a concussion during the kidnapping, wakes up in the hospital. She sees Rohan laying on the floor in the hallway suffering from a stab wound to the abdomen, only Rohan appears to be wearing a wig and insists on calling her “Gita.” When a horde of torch-wielding villagers storm the hospital — then promptly disappear — Sanjana knows something strange is going on.
Neetu (Divya Dutta), a mutual friend of the couple and a doctor at the hospital, doesn’t attribute Sanjana’s hallucination to her serious head injury or the shock of the kidnapping. Dr. Neetu suggests that Sanjana is probably seeing visions from her past lives. A hypnotist who specializes in past-life regression assures Sanjana, “Modern psychiatrists have accepted reincarnation.” (No, they haven’t.)
A hypnotized Sanjana sees a vision of the Rohan she saw in the hospital. His name is Iqbal, and Sanjana’s is, of course, Gita. Neetu’s even there, as Gita’s sister, Chanda. Sanjana uses the information from her past-life regression to inform/muck up the investigation into Rohan’s kidnapping, lead by Detective Singh (Jimmy Shergill).
As she regresses further back through two other previous lives, Sanjana realizes how events from the past have shaped the present, fueled by a grudge hundreds of years old.
While I don’t believe in reincarnation and past-life regression, I don’t mind it as a storytelling device. However, the rules of reincarnation need to be applied consistently. Divya Dutta is present in three of the past lives, but not the fourth, when her role is usurped by actress Gracy Singh. Rohan’s brother plays an important part in one past life, but not the others. The rules change depending on the needs of the plot.
The past life gimmick allows the movie to utilize some cool sets and gorgeous costumes. Kapoor is decked out in everything from modern platform heels, to the garb of a village girl in 1947, to courtly attire from the 16th century. The temple and palace settings are beautiful, showcased by top-notch cinematography.
Still, great visuals and an intriguing storytelling device are overshadowed by lousy acting. Jimmy Shergill seems disinterested. Divya Dutta is good, but she isn’t given enough to do.
Rajneesh Duggal is in a tough position, because Rohan spends so much time kidnapped and off-screen. It’s hard to be concerned about him when we don’t know anything about him. The movie doesn’t bother to explain the motive for Rohan’s kidnapping in the modern day, or even what his job is. When we do see Rohan or his other incarnations, he bears a kindly but bland expression on his face.
Ultimately, the burden of carrying Dangerous Ishhq falls on Karisma Kapoor, who is clearly rusty after her hiatus. She gets better as the film goes on, but the early image of her emotionless good-bye scene with Rohan as Sanjana prepares to leave for Paris lingers. Even in the film’s final scene, the tears roll down Kapoor’s cheeks, but there’s no emotion in her eyes.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — a British movie I reviewed last week — expands the number of theaters showing it on Friday as well, after earning $737,051 from just 27 theaters during its first week in the U.S.
Last weekend’s new Hindi release, Jannat 2, gets a second week at the South Barrington 30, while Vicky Donor gets a fourth week at the South Barrington 30 and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Its U.S. earnings total $466,467, driven by good word of mouth. Compare that to Tezz, which leaves area theaters after two weeks, having earned just $218,622 despite showing in twice as many U.S. theaters as Vicky Donor.
Though it’s only releasing theatrically in India on Friday, U.S. fans will be able to watch the new Hindi film The Forest on the subscription video-streaming service Mela the same day. The film about a married couple terrorized by a man-eating leopard is made by Oscar-nominated director Ashvin Kumar.