I just updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the return of 28 titles from Red Chillies Entertainment. (Thanks to @CinemaRareIN on Twitter for posting the list!) A few of the returning titles expired as recently as September 1. Here’s a list of all of the Red Chillies movies that are available on Netflix once again:
Though the impending theatrical release of Brahmastra: Part One — Shiva is dominating headlines right now, it’s actually a pretty busy week on the streaming services. Here’s what’s debuting on Netflix and Amazon Prime in the next several days:
Other titles like Dear Zindagi have also expired in recent weeks, but I don’t think this necessarily means that Netflix’s deal with Red Chillies is done for good and that the films are headed to another streaming service. Chennai Express returned to Netflix in August 2021, and Yodha and two other titles returned in January of this year. This could just be a reset before the start of a new streaming contract. However, there’s no guarantee that the above titles will return to Netflix, or that they will return quickly if they do, so prioritize watching them if you’re so inclined.
Last week, Netflix added a pair of Hindi movies, including Radhe Shyam and the Original film Thar, which is really good. The Tamil action flick Beast — starring Vijay and Pooja Hegde — debuts on Netflix May 10 (in the afternoon in the US). And Netflix recently moved Masaba Masaba into the “Worth the Wait” row on their New & Popular page, joining She. No Season 2 release dates for either series yet, though.
In other Netflix news, Dear Zindagi expired today. I guess they hit their Alia Bhatt limit with Gangubai Kathiawadi and had to let one of her other pictures go.
I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a release date for their Hindi anthology Modern Love: Mumbai. It debuts on Friday, May 13 (so probably the afternoon of May 12 in the US). The anthology lineup is seriously impressive:
RAAT RANI – directed by Shonali Bose, starring Fatima Sana Shaikh, Bhupendra Jadawat, and Dilip Prabhavalkar
BAAI – directed by Hansal Mehta, starring Tanuja, Pratik Gandhi, and Ranveer Brar
MUMBAI DRAGON – directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, starring Yeo Yann Yann, Meiyang Chang, Wamiqa Gabbi, and Naseeruddin Shah
MY BEAUTIFUL WRINKLES – directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, starring Sarika, Danesh Razvi, Ahsaas Channa, and Tanvi Azmi
I LOVE THANE – directed by Dhruv Sehgal, starring Masaba Gupta, Ritwik Bhowmik, Prateik Babbar, Aadar Malik, and Dolly Singh
CUTTING CHAI – directed by Nupur Asthana, starring Chitrangda Singh, and Arshad Warsi
Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with the premiere of the limited spin-off series Anupama: Namaste America. New episode debut daily at 1 p.m. CT in the US, with the final episode dropping on April 28. Hulu also revealed the trailer for their new Hotstar Special Hindi series Home Shanti, premiering May 6.
Dangal passed PK to become the highest grossing Bollywood film in North America ever, taking just seventeen days to do so. During the weekend of January 6-8, 2017, Dangal earned another $770,084 from 226 theaters ($3,407 average), bringing its total earnings to $11,084,912.
Dangal‘s success in North America perfectly illustrates Canada’s theater dearth. The film opened in 26 theaters in Canada and 331 theaters in the United States for a total of 357 theaters, the film’s widest release. (The US figure may be in dispute, but I’m using it since it doesn’t significantly alter the point I’m trying to make). Based on those numbers, Canada accounts for 7.3% of the total theaters to ever carry Dangal in North America. Yet the film has earned $1,871,072 in Canada, accounting for 16.9% of the North American total. Dividing each country’s total earnings thus far by the highest number of theaters Dangal released in gives each of those 331 US theaters a lifetime average earnings of $27,836, versus a lifetime average of $71,964 for each of the 26 Canadian theaters!
Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:
Dear Zindagi: Week 7; $720 from two theaters; $360 average; $2,453,270 total
Kahaani 2: Week 6; $348 from one theater; $489,873 total
In its second weekend in North American theaters, Dangal‘s business fell a mere 35% from its first weekend of release. From December 30, 2016-January 1, 2017, it earned another $2,014,225 from 331 theaters ($6,085 average) to bring its remarkable total to $9,126,258. PK‘s chart-topping $10.5 million total will soon be history.
Other Hindi films still in theaters:
Dear Zindagi: Week 6; $2,223 from three theaters; $741 average; $2,451,659 total
Befikre: Week 4; $174 from two theaters; $87 average; $811,916 total
Dangal closed out 2016 with the year’s biggest opening weekend in North America, on its way to being the year’s most successful Bollywood film. From December 23-25, 2016, Dangal earned $3,078,278 from 357 theaters* ($8,623 average). That was enough to rank it in 11th place among all movies at the North American box office for the holiday weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.
After adding its weekend take to its earnings from Wednesday night previews and Thursday showings, Dangal‘s official total is $3,907,781. Early reports have the movie earning about another $1 million on Monday, putting its six-day total at about $5 million. It will be the highest-earning Hindi film of the year in North America by the end of the week. Sultan currently holds that title with $6,191,282.
*Although Bollywood Hungama reports Dangal as showing in 331 theaters in the United States and 26 theaters in Canada, I suspect that 331 is actually the total number of theaters for all of North America combined (which would make Dangal‘s per-theater average $9,300). However, without access to Rentrak’s raw data to confirm my suspicions, I am using 357 as the total number of theaters in my calculations.
Other Hindi movies still in theaters:
Dear Zindagi: Week 5; $4,908 from seven theaters; $701 average; $2,446,761 total
Befikre: Week 3; $3,974 from fourteen theaters; $284 average; $810,760 total
Kahaani 2: Week 4; $974 from three theaters; $325 average; $488,278 total
Befikre had a truly terrible opening weekend in North America, performing worse than some of the most notorious flops of the year. From December 9-11, 2016, it earned $488,341 from 308 theaters ($1,586 average), tying it with Fan for the third widest release of the year. Even Mohenjo Daro managed to earn more than $700,000 in its first weekend, and from 69 fewer theaters. Fitoor‘s lousy opening weekend average of $2,082 bested Befikre‘s per-theater average by quite a bit. This is, like, really bad.
[Update: Sumit Chadha told me on Twitter that Rentrak’s real theater count for both the United States and Canada is 284, and not 308 as reported by Bollywood Hungama. That puts Befikre‘s per-theater average at $1,720, which is still bad. Less than $2,000 for an opening weekend is disappointing.]
Kahaani 2 held over well in its second weekend in theaters, retaining nearly a third of its opening weekend business. It earned $86,142 from 66 theaters ($1,305 average), bringing its total to $433,790.
During its third weekend of release, Dear Zindagi took in another $132,332 from 107 theaters ($1,237 average). Its $2,326,837 total ranks it in fourth place for the year, just ahead of co-star Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan.
In its seventh weekend, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil earned $202 from two American theaters, bringing its total to $4,215,728.
Dear Zindagi (“Dear Life“) is one of those movies that’s terrific through the climax, only to close with a denouement that undercuts much of the good that came before. Its unfortunate ending contradicts the primary life lessons learned by a young commitment-phobe over the course of the film.
Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is at that point where the biologically ingrained self-centeredness of the teens and early twenties must, by necessity, make way for a more empathetic means of interacting with the world. In short, she’s stuck.
Already an accomplished cinematographer with dozens of commercials and music videos to her credit, Kaira wants to finally shoot her own feature film. The perfect opportunity comes her way via a handsome producer, Raghu (Kunal Kapoor), with whom she’s been cheating on her handsome restaurateur boyfriend, Sid (Angad Bedi).
Raghu offers Kaira the chance to be the lead cinematographer on a film he’s producing in New York City. To address any awkwardness in advance, he warns Kaira that his ex-girlfriend is also working on the project. Kaira seizes on this minor complication as a reason to blow up her budding romance with Raghu and her chance to make the film.
When a new renting rule gets Kaira booted from her apartment, she has no choice but to embark on a visit to her parents’ house in Goa. Her relationship with her folks is icy at best, though only from her end. Mom offers to make Kaira’s favorite foods, and Dad happily boasts about her professional accomplishments. There has to be a reason for Kaira’s attitude, even if we don’t know what it is.
With time on her hands, Kaira takes the opportunity to explore her failed romantic relationships by meeting with an unconventional therapist, Jehangir “Jug” Khan (Shah Rukh Khan). He pushes her to consider why she’s so concerned about what other people think about her–and what, if anything, it has to do with her parents. To paraphrase Jug, Kaira is letting her past blackmail her present at the expense of her future.
Dear Zindagi deftly destigmatizes mental illness and therapy. Kaira is not conventionally “crazy,” but she repeats patterns of behavior that make her and those around her unhappy. She also lacks the conviction that her life choices are valid, regardless of what others say. Solving those problems is a lot easier with help, and the film depicts a recognizable version of cognitive behavioral therapy, flavored with a liberal dose of Shah Rukh Khan charisma.
Kaira is a refreshing character, the flip side of the more common cinematic man-child forced into adulthood by the love of a good woman. The whole point of Kaira’s journey is that she has to do it for herself, not for anyone else. Bhatt’s appeal makes her a wonderful choice for the role. She shines during a lengthy monologue in which she recounts the source of her enmity with her parents. Director Gauri Shinde wisely keeps Khan offscreen while Bhatt speaks, the camera alternating between Kaira in Jug’s office in the present day and flashbacks to her as a young girl. It’s a credit to the director’s faith in Bhatt as a lead performer that she doesn’t rely on Khan’s presence as a crutch.
Shinde — who also wrote the film — makes a couple of decisions that do a disservice to her complicated, intriguing protagonist. A small complaint is that, in addition to all of Kaira’s more interesting flaws, she is also clumsy. After Twilight, clumsy heroines are a bore. Sure, there are a few lines about Jug’s ability to repair broken things and broken people, but they didn’t need to be visualized so literally.
More problematic is an ending sequence that brings back Kaira’s ex-boyfriends for her moment of triumph. It’s mostly an act of fanservice to give the audience a last glimpse of Kapoor, Bedi, and Ali Zafar, who plays Kaira’s handsome Goa fling. Without getting into specifics, what transpires in this sequence undermines much of Kaira’s self-actualization.
Challenging female characters are a rare breed in film, and Shinde wrote a really good one. That’s why it’s so frustrating to be forced to ultimately view Kaira through a male lens, instead of being able to regard her as she is, unfiltered. Dear Zindagi is a step in the right direction, but it stumbles just before the finish line.