Tag Archives: Desi Movies on Amazon Prime

Streaming Video News: February 2, 2023

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s surprise addition of the 2022 Hindi thriller Vadh, starring Sanjay Mishra and Neena Gupta. The new Original series Class — a Hindi remake of Netflix’s Spanish show Elite — debuts on the service tomorrow.

Netflix announced that Ranveer Singh’s Cirkus will be available February 16, and they released a trailer for a new documentary series about Yash Raj Films called The Romantics, which debuts on Valentine’s Day:

If you missed any of the new Indian shows and movies added to Netflix last month, be sure to check out my January roundup for What’s on Netflix.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with today’s addition of the 2023 Malayalam film Ennalum Nteliyaa.

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with today’s addition of the Tamil film Sembi, which is also available in Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu.

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: January 20, 2023

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premiere of the new Hindi spy thriller Mission Majnu, starring Sidharth Malhotra. Earlier in the week, the Malayalam film Kaapa became available for streaming, and the Telugu movie Dhamaka becomes available tomorrow.

Netflix announced earlier this week that it secured the rights to a slate of 18 Tamil movies and 16 Telugu movies that will stream on the service after their theatrical release. Netflix has long been criticized for its heavily Hindi-focused catalog, and this is a strong statement about the company’s desire to expand its Indian offerings into other languages.

This week’s other new direct-to-streaming Hindi film is the comedy Chhatriwali on Zee5.

I’m planning to review Mission Majnu and Chhatriwali next week. Today and tomorrow, I’m catching up on movies so I can vote in the annual Online Film Critics Society awards. The winners will be announced on January 23. This year’s list of nominees contains some really, really good movies, including RRR, which is nominated in three categories.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with yesterday’s debut of the documentary series Cinema Marte Dum Tak, which covers cult films from the 1990s. Gunda is featured, so obviously I have to watch it at some point.

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with the addition of the 2022 Marathi film Sarsenapati Hambirrao and the debut of Season 2 of the Telugu series Jhansi (also available in Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, and Tamil). Hulu/Disney+Hotstar just released the trailer for the new Anil Kapoor-Aditya Roy Kapur series The Night Manager, which premieres February 17:

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: January 13, 2023

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with two new additions today: the 2022 Hindi comedy Mister Mummy — starring married couple Riteish Deshmukh and Genelia D’Souza — and the new Netflix Original series Trial By Fire, which is based on a true story. The Tamil film Varalaru Mukkiyam becomes available for streaming tomorrow.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with today’s surprise streaming debut of Ajay Devgn’s thriller sequel Drishyam 2. Amazon also released the trailer for Shahid Kapoor’s first OTT series Farzi, which debuts on February 10:

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with yesterday’s addition of the 2022 Malayalam film Mukundan Unni Associates, which is also available in Hindi and Tamil.

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Movie Review: Phone Bhoot (2022)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Phone Bhoot on Amazon Prime

Phone Bhoot is almost a very good movie. It has a distinct style and point of view, and Ishaan Khattar gives a hypnotic performance. But it badly needs editing.

It’s not just that Phone Bhoot is too long (though it is, especially for a comedy) or that scenes are too slow (though they are). It’s that all the cruft in the film makes the jokes less funny than if they were quick hits. There’s a reason why the Hamlet quote “Brevity is the soul of wit” endures over the centuries.

For example, take how the film’s main characters acquire their superpowers. Friends Major (Siddhant Chaturvedi) and Gullu (Khattar) are two horror-obsessed slackers. While fixing the glowing eyes of their Frankenstein-like monster statue named Raaka, our heroes are electrocuted. Instead of just convulsing for a few seconds then dropping, director Gurmmeet Singh has the camera repeatedly cut between Major, Gullu, and Raaka as the humans convulse for what feels like forever. The prolonged electrocution sequence has been a tired Bollywood comedy trope for a long time.

When the guys wake up, they find that they can see ghosts. Specifically, they can see Ragini (Katrina Kaif), a beautiful spectre who makes them a proposition. She will help them start an exorcism business, thereby earning enough to pay back the money that the guys owe their fathers. In exchange, they have to help her with a favor, no questions asked.

An interesting theme that comes up as the trio’s exorcism business takes off is the financial ramifications of death. The ghost of a young woman haunts the family of the man who killed her in a hit-and-run not just because of the unfairness of her life being cut short. It’s also because the woman was the breadwinner for her aging parents, who now live in poverty. Other ghosts have similar stories. It’s a thoughtful acknowledgement that justice may be best served in forms other than jail time or equivalent physical punishment.

Another cool thing about Major and Gullu is that they are obsessed expressly with Indian horror movies. There are very few references to Hollywood horror films in the movie, and all of the posters and props in their apartment are from older Bollywood flicks. Ragini’s name obviously comes from the Ragini MMS series, and I’m sure there are tons of other references for those with a deeper knowledge of spooky Hindi classics than I have.

Unfortunately, as with the electrocution sequence, the movie draws too much from outdated comedy and storytelling styles. Jokes last so long that they stop being funny. The story moves too slowly, especially since there isn’t really a b-plot. There’s plenty of room in the narrative for characters like the Major’s and Gullu’s dads to reappear to check on their unconventional sons’ progress, or for there to be more to the guys’ thin association with a witch whose name translates in the English subtitles as Wicky Witch (Sheeba Chaddha).

Likewise, it would’ve been better to have the guys encounter the movie’s villain Aatmaram Shastrashakti (Jackie Shroff) earlier in the story, rather than keep the evil sorcerer sequestered in the underground lair he’s leasing from Big Trouble in Little China‘s David Lo Pan.

Another disappointment is that the songs and choreography are forgettable. None of the numbers will rank among Kaif’s greatest hits, despite pairing her with an excellent dancer like Khattar. (Chartuvedi holds his own on the dance floor, too.)

Kaif’s performance is solid as the stand-in for the audience, rolling her eyes at the two dopes she’s forced to rely on for help. Chaturvedi’s mugging as Major is a bit much at times but mostly fits with his character’s personality. Khattar is the real standout, totally immersing himself in every scene, no matter how silly, and reacting authentically.

Were it 30 minutes shorter, Phone Bhoot would be a real winner.

Links

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: December 22, 2022

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with today’s streaming debut of Akshay Kumar’s adventure flick Ram Setu and the Kannada sports movie 10. Earlier this week, Prime added the Ajay Devgn-Sidharth Malhotra film Thank God and the Telugu movie Jayamma Panchayathi to the catalog.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with today’s addition of the Malayalam film Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey (also in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu).

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the streaming premiere of the Hindi flick Tara VS. Bilalthe Malayalam movie The Teacher, and the addition of some older Telugu films: Anukokunda Oka Roju, Dikkulu Choodaku Ramayya, Dongala Muta, and Oohalu Gusagusalade. Check the “Coming Soon” and “Expiring Soon” sections of my Netflix page to see which Indian titles are on their way in and out of the catalog before the end of the month.

Posts will be sparse over Christmas break. In the meantime, please check out the MASSIVE update on all of the new Netflix Indian Originals coming in 2023 that I wrote for What’s on Netflix. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! — Kathy

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: December 16, 2022

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a bunch of recently added titles, including today’s premiere of the Original true crime series Indian Predator: Beast of Bangalore. Two Hindi theatrical releases — Parineeti Chopra’s thriller Code Name: Tiranga and Ayushmann Khurrana’s social issue picture Doctor G — were added in the last week, along with nine other movies:

There are a lot of movies still to come to Netflix before the end of December, so head to my Netflix page to see the titles we already know about. I’m half-expecting to see one more big Hindi theatrical release debut on the service during Christmas break, but that’s just a hunch.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with yesterday’s premiere of the comedy Govinda Naam Mera, starring Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar, and Kiara Advani.

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with yesterday’s debut of the new Hindi family series Half Pants Full Pants.

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: December 1, 2022

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with today’s premier of the Netflix Original film Qala, starring Bulbbul‘s Triptii Dimri and Babil Khan, son of the late Irrfan Khan. Today also saw the additions of Amitabh Bachchan’s movie Goodbye, the Tamil film Nitham Oru Vaanam, and a trio of kids’ cartoons: Chhota Bheem aur Mahavinashini ka Vinaash, Chhota Bheem aur Malongh ka Raaz, and Chhota Bheem ki Citi Pitti Gul.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with today’s premier of Kartik Aaryan’s romantic thriller Freddy. The Telugu movie Repeat was added to Hulu yesterday.

Today also marked the straight-to-streaming release of the Covid-themed drama India Lockdown on Zee5.

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the premier of the Tamil series Vandandhi and the streaming debut of the Malayalam movie Kooman. Comedian Zakir Khan’s latest stand-up special Tathastu released yesterday on Prime.

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: November 4, 2022

I updated my list of Bollywood movies streaming on Hulu with today’s addition of Brahmāstra, Part 1: Shiva (sometimes called Shiva No. 1). The superhero flick has Hindi and English dialogue options.

Also new today is the straight-to-streaming film Tadka on Zee5. This Hindi remake of the Malayalam film Salt N’ Pepper stars Nana Patekar, Taapsee Pannu, and Ali Fazal. (Update: if you’re trying to watch Tadka via the Zee5 app on Apple TV and use subtitles, the subtitles will appear at the top of the screen, obscuring the picture. See the photo below for an example.)

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime yesterday with the streaming debut of Ponniyin Selvan: 1. Mani Ratnam’s latest has Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada audio options.

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a few new additions this week: the Tamil-dubbed films David and Uyire and the 2022 Telugu action flick The Ghost (also available in Tamil and Hindi). If you missed any of the Indian films added to Netflix in October, check out my monthly roundup for What’s on Netflix.

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Movie Review: Maja Ma (2022)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Maja Ma on Amazon Prime

Who we are is a complicated question because so much of our identity is relational. Descriptors like wife, mother, sister, friend, or co-worker all depend on there being at least one specific person on the other side of the equation. Navigating all those identities is tricky enough before we introduce individual identities that can be broader yet also more personal: artist, woman, gay, or straight. Maja Ma follows the members of the Patel family as a rumor makes them examine their own identities and their relationships with each other.

Tejas Patel (Ritwik Bhowmik) is trying to convince the wealthy parents of his Indian-American girlfriend Esha Hansraj (Barkha Singh) to allow him to marry their daughter. Tejas already passed a lie detector test required by Texans Bob (Rajit Kapoor) and Pam Hansraj (Sheeba Chaddha) to ensure that he isn’t just after the family’s money. The real challenge is a meeting between the families in India to prove that the Patels embody Bob’s idea of true Indian values. Bob believes anything less might harm Bob’s future campaign to become mayor of Houston.

The Patel family is pretty typical — dad Manohar (Gajraj Rao), mom Pallavi (Madhuri Dixit), Tejas, and his sister Tara (Srishti Shrivastava) — but Tara is the wildcard. She’s working on her PhD in gender studies, and she’s a vocal supporter of LGBTQIA+ rights. She’s so vocal that even the advocacy group she volunteers for asks her to tone down her fiery rhetoric to spare them the negative press.

Pallavi is supportive of her daughter, but she’s not keen on discussing sexuality with her. During an argument in which Tara presses her mom to admit whether she would have accepted Tara if she was gay (she’s not), Pallavi blurts out that she herself is a lesbian. It’s an effective way to end the argument, but Tara suspects that maybe there’s some truth behind her mom’s words.

When the Hansraj family arrives in town, the Patels do their best to tolerate their insufferable future in-laws for Tejas’s sake. Bob leers at Pallavi and says things like, “Exotic,” during her welcome ritual. When Tara serves snacks, Pam asks her if she’s menstruating (she’s not) since Bob won’t eat any food prepared by a woman who is.

At a festival that night, the host shows a video recorded by one of the nosy neighborhood kids that includes secretly recorded footage of Pallavi’s confession during her argument with Tara, sending the whole town into an uproar. Women exclude Pallavi from their activities, Manohar’s manhood is mocked, and Bob and Pam threaten to call off the engagement — unless Pallavi can pass a lie detector test.

Whether Pallavi’s confession is actually true is immaterial in the sense that everyone in her life changes the way they treat her anyway. Manohar’s concerns are the most understandable since Pallavi being a lesbian alters the foundations of their marriage. Tejas is willing to haul his mom off to conversion therapy if it means he can still marry Esha. Tara is thrilled at the prospect of having a lesbian mother, as it would give her more credibility in her gay rights organization.

One of the counselors in Tara’s organization emphasizes that it’s entirely up to Pallavi whether she decides to publicly embrace being a lesbian. The reactions by her family, the Hansrajs, and everyone else in the neighborhood show that doing so would not come without a cost. In addition to being a lesbian, Pallavi is a mother and a wife — two roles she’s let define her knowing that other options were not available to her when she was of marriageable age.

As far as the audience knows, Pallavi loves being a mom and being part of her community, and she and Manohar have an amicable relationship. Is making a public declaration worth risking damage to the other parts of her life she’s spent decades building? Director Anand Tiwari and writer Sumit Batheja compassionately provide context for a heart-wrenching decision people are still forced to make in places where it is not safe to come out.

Maja Ma also thoughtfully depicts the changing family dynamics as adult children finally realize that their parents are more than just “Mom” and “Dad.” Likewise, Manohar’s attempts to rekindle the physical romance in his marriage are handled with grace and good humor. This is a movie that is very fond of the main family at its core.

Conversely, Bob and Pam are shown to be buffoons who get away with awful behavior because they have money. One curious point is that the movie gives Esha a pass for tolerating her parents’ rude, bigoted behavior. Her unconditional love of them is painted as a good thing, but that doesn’t mean she should condone their abuse. Far less emotional growth is demanded of her than the other adult children in the film, and it seems like a missed opportunity.

Still, Tiwari’s and Batheja’s attempts to address as the many complications that would arise from Pallavi’s confession is worth applauding, as are the performances by Maja Ma‘s terrific cast.

Links

[Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: October 3, 2022

I just updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with yet another massive list of films that will soon expire from Netflix. Following the big purge of UTV titles on October 1, most of the rest of the UTV catalog will expire on November 1. Because of the ways that films are co-produced by multiple studios, I suspect a lot of this activity is due to a realignment of streaming video contracts. Many of these titles may wind up on Netflix again, although some will likely make their way other streamers (such as Disney+/Hotstar/Hulu in the case of movies produced by Disney India, like ABCD 2 or Zokkomon.)

Here are all of the movies leaving Netflix on November 1, with titles I’ve reviewed at the top followed by other titles in alphabetical order:

In other streaming news, the mass exodus of Yash Rash Films content from Amazon Prime that I wrote about last week turns out to have been more of a housekeeping matter. Previously, every YRF title had two separate catalog IDs: one from the initial time they were added to the Amazon Prime catalog and then when the movies were added again (for some reason). All of the original YRF catalog entries were wiped out on October 1, but the newer catalog IDs remain. So for now, the vast majority of YRF movies are still available on Amazon Prime. You can find all of them on my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime.