I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a bunch of recent additions. Since the massive catalog purge at the end of last month, Prime has added more than 60 titles, including the new original series Vella Raja, available in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu in both standard and Ultra-HD. Jimmy Shergill’s 2018 theatrical release Phamous is among the recently added Bollywood movies, which also include a bunch of older titles. Here are some that I’ve reviewed:
For the full list of recent additions to the catalog, head to my Prime page and check out the “Newly Added” section at the top. (All of the Amazon links include my affiliate tag, meaning I get a portion of the proceeds from any items purchased through those links.)
I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with more than twenty additions to the catalog, a mix of previously available titles and stuff brand new to the service. I’ve reviewed many of the films, including (click on the star-rating for my review):
2014 delivered a bunch of well-crafted films aimed at a savvy audience. Here are my ten best of the year. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
Films with budgets large and small took aim at social issues affecting ordinary citizens. Siddharth powerfully explores poverty through the experience of a man searching for his missing child. The divisive intersection of politics and religion is skewered both by indies — Filmistaan and Dekh Tamasha Dekh — and the year’s biggest hit, PK.
Other films put creative spins on existing formulas. Highway turns a typical damsel-in-distress scenario into a young woman’s journey of self-discovery. Dedh Ishqiya features a budding romance between a middle-aged couple, played by Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Naseeruddin Shah. I thought I’d seen enough gangster movies for a lifetime until Kill Dil revitalized the genre in stylish fashion.
Ankhon Dekhi challenges the notion that a movie has to be “about” a specific theme, instead presenting itself as a movie to simply experience.
My sentimental favorite film of 2014 is Queen. Watching Kangana Ranuat as charming small-town girl Rani gallivanting about Europe on her solo honeymoon is a joyous experience. It’s a movie I look forward to revisiting.
Yet one movie stood out from the rest because of its riveting story and immaculate direction. The best Hindi movie of 2014 is Haider.
I’m a huge fan of director Vishal Bhardwaj, and even with high expectations going in, I was still blown away by Haider. It’s gorgeous, thanks both to the natural beauty of Kashmir and Bhardwaj’s use of a bold color palette against a snowy backdrop. Kudos to cinematographer Pankaj Kumar as well.
Bhardwaj — who also wrote the film’s music — maximizes the potential for song as a narrative device in a sequence in which Haider (a modern Hamlet, played by Shahid Kapoor) publicly implicates his uncle in his father’s disappearance. The scene is much more effective as a musical performance than it would have been as a speech.
Bhardwaj also deserves credit for placing his version of Hamlet in such a politically and emotionally charged environment. Notes at the end of the movie highlight how ongoing tension between India and Pakistan have cut off a beautiful place like Kashmir from the rest of the world, to the detriment of regular people simply trying to exist. Placing a 400-year-old story within the context of a modern conflict emphasizes that quelling the dangerous temptations that come with political ambition is a problem humans haven’t yet solved. Haider is a magnificent piece of visual storytelling.
It’s been over a year since we last saw Salman Khan on the big screen, but he returns to Chicago area cinemas on January 24, 2014, with Jai Ho. The premise sounds a lot like Pay It Forward, if Kevin Spacey had to beat the crap out of a bunch of guys.
Karle Pyaar Karle departs area theaters following one of the worst opening weekend performances I can remember. According to Bollywood Hungama, the movie earned $2,466 from twenty screens in the U.S., for an average of just $123 per screen. Holy cow, that’s bad. Theaters lost money on this dog.
Dedh Ishqiya gets a third week at the South Barrington 30, with earnings of $251,730 in the U.S. so far. The theater also carries over Dhoom 3 for a sixth weekend.
There are times when the most appropriate review of a really good movie boils down to: “GO WATCH THIS MOVIE RIGHT NOW!” Dedh Ishqiya merits such praise.
Dedh Ishqiya combines many genres by being equal parts comedy, thriller, mystery, and romance, with a bit of action thrown in as well. The particular combination gives the movie its own unique flavor that builds on the tone of its predecessor, Ishqiya. Writer-director Abhishek Chaubey and his co-writer/producer, Vishal Bhardwaj, create a wonderful, distinct world for their two thieving protagonists: Khalu (Naseeruddin Shah) and his nephew, Babban (Arshad Warsi).
The events of the sequel pick up with the two crooks still in debt to Khalu’s brother-in-law, Mushtaq (Salman Shahid). The pair get separated during a jewel heist, until Babban discovers Khalu posing as a poet hoping to woo an aristocrat’s widow.
The lovely widow, Para (Madhuri Dixit-Nene), and her protective assistant, Muniya (Huma Qureshi), aim to find the widow a new husband via a poetry contest. Khalu’s main competitor is Jaan Mohammad (Vijay Raaz), a gangster desirous of a more respectable social position.
Khalu and Babban are great, dynamic characters. Babban’s lack of impulse control drives most of the laughs, while Khalu’s romantic nature causes problems in his professional life. Aspiring Romeos should study Shah’s performance for how to properly look like you’re in love with a woman. Stare at a woman the way Khalu stares at Para, and she’s yours.
Dixit-Nene and Qureshi get the meatier roles, both because their characters are new and because Khalu and Babban wear their hearts on their sleeves. The women are complex and intriguing, but not cagey. We want to know more, and they draw the audience in as easily as they do the thieves.
As mentioned above, Khalu and Para have wonderful chemistry. They both find themselves in a position to finally live for themselves, rather than on behalf of other people in their lives. At 46, Dixit-Nene would in reality be a very young widow, but she brings such grace and wisdom to the role that she gives the impression of being older than she looks.
The relationship between Babban and Muniya is more tumultuous and results in some entertaining gender-role reversals. Babban’s role as pursuer is short-lived, and Muniya quickly steers them into a physical relationship. Fearing that Muniya doesn’t share his romantic feelings, he worries that she thinks he’s nothing but a whore: an ironic twist, given his own fondness for prostitutes.
Raaz is perfectly sleazy as the wannabe aristocrat, though not so sinister as to detract from the movie’s humorous tone. Manoj Pahwa, who frequently plays broad comic characters, gets a more subdued role as a poet forced to aid the gangster. The payoff for Pahwa’s character is simply amazing.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s music is terrific, as always. The dilapidated mansion in which most of the story takes place is gorgeous. And we get to see Madhuri Dixit-Nene dance! There’s nothing not to love about Dedh Ishqiya.
The action-romance Karle Pyaar Karle opens in Chicago area theaters on January 17, 2014. With no notable stars in front of or behind the camera, I can’t see this attracting much of an audience locally.
Dedh Ishqiya suffered for opening on only fifty screens in the U.S., earning just $157,541 in its opening weekend. It carries over for a second weekend at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30, so go see it while you can.
There’s one new Hindi movie opening in the Chicago area on January 10, 2014, and I couldn’t be more excited for it. I loved 2010’s Ishqiya, so I’m super psyched for the sequel: Dedh Ishqiya.
Dedh Ishqiya opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Unfortunately, the Cantera is only showing the movie once per day at 10:15 p.m. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 32 min. (Update: I won’t be able to review Dedh Ishqiya until Monday. Update 2: Make that Wednesday.)
I’m a little bummed that the cool-looking Bengali adventure film Chander Pahar isn’t opening in the Chicago area this weekend. The movie’s official website promises an expanded release next weekend, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
The Indian film getting the widest release this weekend is the Telugu movie Nenokkadine (1). It gets an early Thursday night release at the Golf Glen 5, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, and Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale before it expands to the Carmike Market Square 10 in Dekalb on Saturday. The Stratford Square’s website specifies that the film has English subtitles, so I’d assume that’s the case for all the prints at all local theaters. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 7 min.
Starting Friday, the Golf Glen 5 will also carry the Tamil films Jilla and Veeram. Due to the scheduling quirks of the Carmike Market Square, Veeram will open there on Saturday, and Jilla will open on Sunday.
The first trailer for Dedh Ishqiya is out. The dialogue-heavy trailer doesn’t have subtitles, so non-Hindi speakers will miss out on much of the fun, but the film retains the look of its predecessor, Ishqiya. Given how much I liked the original and how much I like this cast, I’m really looking forward to Dedh Ishqiya‘s release on January 10, 2014.
(Proposal for a trilogy: Dead Ishqiya. Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi as zombie grifters.)