Tag Archives: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy

Best Bollywood Movies of 2015

2015 offered up a satisfying mix of sweet, intimate stories and dark thrills and chills. Here are my picks for the best Bollywood movies of 2015. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

The year ended on a triumphant note with the release of the historical epic romance Bajirao Mastani. Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s colorful, lavish style demands to be seen on the big screen.

Two smaller Hindi films that played at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival prove that big budgets aren’t necessary to make a great movie. Haraamkhor and Dhanak depict the struggles of childhood in very different ways, with Dhanak being easily the sweetest film of the year.

Early 2015 saw the release of two great revenge thrillers: Badlapur and NH10. While Badlapur explores the toll that a lingering desire for vengeance takes on a grieving husband (Varun Dhawan), NH10 is a race against the clock for a woman (Anushka Sharma) trying to defeat the men out to kill her.

In contrast to such dark fare, Piku lovingly and humorously explores the tense relationship between an adult daughter (Deepika Padukone) who hits the road with her ailing father (Amitabh Bachchan).

A pair of top-notch crime thrillers also made the list. Talvar‘s unique story structure sets apart this real-life murder mystery. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! put a modern, stylish twist on a classic Indian literary detective.

Dum Laga Ke Haisha is as charming as can be, telling the tale of a loser (Ayushmann Khurrana) rebelling against his marriage to an accomplished woman (Bhumi Pednekar) who fails to fit his beauty standards. So much care went into the story that it is impossible not to fall in love with these young adults trying to grow under enormous family pressure.

My favorite movie of 2015 is a big budget, multi-starrer that nevertheless tells a smart, contemporary family story. Too often, Bollywood spectacle films are “check your brain at the door” affairs, full of bombast but devoid of substance. Director Zoya Akhtar brings together an A-list cast — including Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Farhan Akhtar, and Anil Kapoor — for a film that is fun and romantic, but also contains insightful critiques of the respect (or lack thereof) accorded women in modern Indian society. Director Akhtar takes the opportunity this big-budget blockbuster affords her and uses the platform to inform as well as entertain. For that reason, my favorite Hindi film of 2015 is Dil Dhadakne Do.

(Update: I watched Masaan after posting this list. Were I to re-do my rankings, I’d place Masaan in 9th place, between Dhanak and Haraamkhor.)

Kathy’s Top Ten Bollywood Movies of 2015

  1. Dil Dhadakne Do — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
  2. Dum Laga Ke Haisha — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
  3. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
  4. Talvar — Buy at Amazon
  5. Piku — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
  6. NH10 — Buy at Amazon
  7. Badlapur — Buy at Amazon
  8. Dhanak
  9. Haraamkhor
  10. Bajirao Mastani

Previous Best Movies Lists

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Streaming Video News: January 1, 2016

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a ton of new additions to the catalog. Netflix kicked off 2016 by adding seventeen (!) Hindi movies to the streaming catalog, along with a number of movies in other Indian languages, most notably director Mani Ratnam’s 2015 Tamil hit OK Kanmani. I added a category for films in other Indian languages at the bottom of my Netflix page. (January 2 update: Dum Laga Ke Haisha is also now on Netflix!)

Here’s a list of all the Bollywood films added to Netflix today:

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! and Piku are two of my favorite movies of 2015, and I can’t wait to check out Randeep Hooda in Main Aur Charles, which didn’t open in US theaters. A number of these films — like Katiyabaaz and Kshay — were hits on the festival circuit, and this is the first opportunity for a wide audience to see them. Same for the Gujarati film The Good Road, India’s official submission to the 86th Oscars, which was also added today.

For everything else new on Netflix, please check out Instant Watcher.

Bollywood Box Office: May 8-10

Piku just knocked the pants off of every other Hindi movie to open in North America in 2015 so far and set a high bar for future releases. During its first weekend — from May 8-10, 2015Piku earned $938,938 from 117 theaters, an average of $8,025 per screen.

Mother’s Day Sunday drove huge crowds to the theater for the family comedy starring Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone. At least one showing at my local cinema sold out of tickets, which is almost unheard of. In one weekend, Piku earned $200,000 more than Baby — now the second highest earner of 2015 — earned from four weeks in North American theaters. Piku‘s strong earnings and positive word of mouth should make the team behind Bombay Velvet nervous ahead of its release on Friday, May 15.

[Rentrak reports to Bollywood Hungama weekend earnings figures for Piku that are about $150,000 less than the above figures reported by Box Office Mojo. I tend to prioritize Box Office Mojo’s figures when they have them available for Hindi movies. Either way, Piku earned a helluva a lot of money.]

In its second weekend, Gabbar is Back took in another $109,705 from 92 theaters ($1,192 average), bringing its North American total to $490,385.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!: Week 6; $2,200 from six theaters ($367 average); $608,751 total
  • Dharam Sankat Mein: Week 5; $160 from one theater; $13,545 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

 

Bollywood Box Office: May 1-3

Gabbar is Back had a good opening weekend in North America by 2015 standards, which isn’t saying much. During the weekend of May 1-3, 2015, Gabbar is Back earned $270,101 from 120 theaters ($2,251 average). That’s the fifth highest opening of the year, although it opened in the third highest number of theaters.

As with Mr. X, Gabbar is Back proved vastly more popular in Canada than in the US. In Canada, Gabbar is Back took in $64,224 from 13 theaters, meaning that nearly a quarter of the film’s earnings came from just a tenth of its total North American theaters. The difference in the countries’ per-screen averages is even more stark: $4,940 in Canada versus $1,924 in the US.

Gabbar is Back‘s opening weekend total is $164,850 less than what Baby — Akshay Kumar’s other 2015 release — earned in its opening weekend in January. Given the caliber of Bollywood movies releasing this month, Gabbar is Back is more likely to flame out fast in theaters rather than burn slowly. Baby earned 60% of its total haul in its first weekend, so a similar performance by Gabbar is Back would place its final North American tally at around $450,000.

In its fifth weekend, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! added another $4,529 from five theaters ($906 average) to bring its US total to $605,436.

Dharam Sankat Mein spent a fourth weekend in one theater, taking in $374 to bring its total to $13,339.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening May 1: Gabbar is Back

One new Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on May 1, 2015. Akshay Kumar plays a corruption-busting vigilante in Gabbar is Back.

Gabbar is Back opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 11 min.

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! gets a fifth week at the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include both the Tamil and Telugu versions of Uttama Villain at the Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont and MovieMax, which also carries Vai Raja Vai (Tamil), Ganga (Telugu), Dohchay (Telugu), Bhaskar the Rascal (Malayalam), Oru Vadakkan Selfie (Malayalam), OK Kanmani (Tamil), and OK Bangaram (Telugu).

Bollywood Box Office: April 24-26

Fox Star Studios probably wishes the North American box office reports for Mr. X would disappear, because the numbers are awful. In its second weekend, Mr. X earned $7,572 from 17 theaters ($445 average), bringing its total earnings to $48,213. Considering Mr. X‘s opening weekend average of $400 per screen and Week 2’s $445, each of those stalwart 17 theaters will be lucky to have earned $1,000 total from ten days of showing of Mr. X.

As in its opening weekend, Mr. X proved vastly more popular in Canada in Week 2 than in the US. It earned $6,283 from ten Canadian theaters ($628 average), but just $1,289 from seven American theaters ($184 average).

On the other hand, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! performed very well in its fourth weekend. DBB brought in another $20,846 from 11 theaters ($1,895 average), bringing its reported North American total to $598,376 (though I suspect that’s a bit low). What’s notable about DBB‘s fourth weekend earnings is that they are more than double that of Badlapur, which reported the next highest fourth weekend returns this year ($7,905). Eight Hindi movies have run for at least four weeks in North American theaters in 2015.

Other Hindi films showing in North America during the weekend of April 24-26, 2015:

  • Nanak Shah Fakir: Week 2; $14,656 from 9 theaters ($1,628 average); $90,901 total
  • Dharam Sankat Mein: Week 3; $2,179 from 4 theaters ($545 average); $12,809 total

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Box Office Analysis: Yash Raj Films

The recent release of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! inspired me to take a look at the US box office history for all of the Yash Raj Films releases from the past decade. I based my analysis on data provided by Box Office Mojo and Bollywood Hungama (which in turn uses information from Rentrak).

Looking at the total grosses of all films, it looks like there’s a slight trend upward in total box office, over time. (The orange line represents a simple linear regression of all data.)


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You might notice that one film did disproportionately well in late 2013. That’s Dhoom 3, which raked in about $8M. Remove this outlier from the equation, and the other YRF releases are actually on a gentle decline in total box office take.


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Despite the stagnancy of total box office dollars, YRF’s widest releases are being shown in more US theaters than ever.


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A flat box office and more theaters means that opening weekend averages per screen are also trending downward, even when including Dhoom 3 in the calculations. Blockbusters have been immune to the trend, but the underperformers are doing worse than ever. The last four Yash Raj movies released in 2014 (Bewakoofiyaan, Mardaani, Daawat-e-Ishq, and Kill Dil) each came in at under $2,000 per screen.


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Taking into account that average ticket prices have also climbed almost $2 (from $6.41 in 2005 to $8.17 in 2014, according to Box Office Mojo), this lack of growth in box office also means that fewer tickets are being sold for each Yash Raj Films release, on average.

The good news for YRF is that Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! bucked recent trends, averaging about $4,000 per screen in US theaters in its opening weekend. That puts it on par with films from the studio’s most reliable period, 2007-08.

For the remainder of 2015, Yash Raj Films has only one film officially planned for release: Fan, starring Shahrukh Khan. Yet Fan‘s release date has been changed multiple times, and it’s not currently listed on Bollywood Hungama’s release calendar. The surprise success of the romantic comedy Dum Laga Ke Haisha in India prompted Yash Raj Films to create an international trailer for the movie, renaming it My Big Fat Bride. There’s a chance that it could open in US while Fan is completed — though its star, Ayushmann Khurrana, isn’t a guaranteed money maker like Shahrukh Khan.

Even if Yash Raj Films doesn’t release another movie in 2015, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! has nudged the studio’s fortunes in the US back in the right direction.

Author’s note: My thanks to Box Office Mojo, Bollywood Hungama, and Rentrak for the raw information. Note: there’s no reliable box office data for a pair of 2010 releases — Badmaash Company and Pyaar Impossible — so I couldn’t take them into account in this analysis.

The charts were generated by my husband, Greg Gibson, using the d3.js JavaScript library. Visit his GitHub site to view more YRF charts or to peruse the project’s source code.

Finally, here’s a table of estimated box office data for all YRF releases since 2005:

Title Total Gross Max Screens Opening AVG Release Date
Bunty Aur Babli 942756 51 8544 Fri May 27 2005
Salaam Namaste 1413283 63 8014 Fri Sep 09 2005
Neal ‘n’ Nikki 111551 44 1705 Fri Dec 09 2005
Fanaa 2105352 72 10459 Fri May 26 2006
Dhoom 2 2643586 63 15540 Fri Nov 24 2006
Kabul Express 302458 50 2852 Fri Dec 15 2006
Ta Ra Rum Pum 872643 85 5001 Fri Apr 27 2007
Jhoom Barabar Jhoom 695157 83 5485 Fri Jun 15 2007
Chak De India 1120404 62 5676 Fri Aug 10 2007
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag 675102 60 5350 Fri Oct 12 2007
Aaja Nachle 484108 66 3902 Fri Nov 30 2007
Tashan 457380 75 4016 Fri Apr 25 2008
Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic 365401 68 2671 Fri Jun 27 2008
Bachna Ae Haseeno 702166 71 4541 Fri Aug 15 2008
Roadside Romeo 55202 29 1440 Fri Oct 24 2008
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi 2078956 83 11096 Fri Dec 12 2008
New York 997437 60 7795 Fri Jun 26 2009
Dil Bole Hadippa! 644046 54 6508 Fri Sep 18 2009
Rocket Singh 164649 70 2352 Fri Dec 11 2009
Band Baaja Baaraat 71374 32 1369 Fri Dec 10 2010
Mere Brother Ki Dulhan 496172 74 5448 Fri Sep 09 2011
Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl 222019 80 2775 Fri Dec 09 2011
Ek Tha Tiger 2347774 120 9495 Wed Aug 15 2012
Jab Tak Hai Jaan 3047539 164 7973 Tue Nov 13 2012
Aurangzeb 149000 62 1468 Fri May 17 2013
Shuddh Desi Romance 641000 116 2980 Fri Sep 06 2013
Dhoom 3 8090250 239 14320 Fri Dec 20 2013
Gunday 887675 150 3656 Fri Feb 14 2014
Bewakoofiyaan 106800 66 1026 Fri Mar 14 2014
Mardaani 393619 86 1965 Fri Aug 22 2014
Daawat-e-Ishq 385415 113 1814 Fri Sep 19 2014
Kill Dil 246107 87 1977 Fri Nov 14 2014