Bollywood movies are becoming harder to find in Chicago area theaters. The AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 — the only theater in the city of Chicago to periodically show Hindi movies — closes its doors for good tonight.
Further out in the suburbs, the Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville shuttered a dozen of its screens, rechristening itself the Regal Cantera Stadium 17 & RPX. The closure of 40% of its available screens doesn’t bode well for any foreign or independent movies at the Cantera.
Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove has historically programmed movies in Indian languages other than Hindi. But that theater hasn’t held a screening since April 24.
This leaves only two theaters in the Chicago area that regularly devote screen space to Indian cinema: Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. Neither is carrying any Hindi movies this weekend.
Part of the paucity of Bollywood movies in theaters in recent weeks is attributable to the Indian Premier League Cricket season, which began in April and ends this Saturday. The few Hindi movies that have released in May have been smaller films lacking star power. Most have exited theaters after only one week.
The release of Ready on June 3 should give an indication of whether Bollywood has a future in Chicago beyond the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30. Staff at the Cantera told me that the theater may still carry Bollywood movies, based on availability. Regal’s corporate website lists the Cantera of one of its thirteen theaters that show Hindi movies (though it still lists the theater as the Cantera 30). If Ready — a comedy featuring superstar Salman Khan — doesn’t make the cut at Cantera, I don’t know what will.
So, what are your options if theaters near you have stopped carrying Bollywood movies? Here are some ways to get your fix without resorting to Internet piracy:
Public libraries. Many public libraries throughout the Chicago region carry Indian DVDs in their movie sections. Minimal check-out fees ($1 for a week at the Naperville Public Library, for example) help the libraries expand their collections.
Netflix. The subscription service has a decent selection of Bollywood movies available via DVD and streaming, including two movies that came out in theaters earlier this year: No One Killed Jessica and 7 Khoon Maaf.
YouTube. The video service recently expanded its selection of Indian movies available for free or for rent (typically $3.99 or less). Turning 30, which came out in January, is available for free.
Amazon. In addition to selling DVDs, Amazon Instant Video offers a number of Bollywood movies for rent or purchase. However, the selection of Hindi movies is limited, and the site is hard to search.
Eros Entertainment. If you’d rather own the DVD, Eros is my go-to site. Their selection is limited, but their service is good and prices are reasonable. The DVD for Game, which released in theaters on April 1, sells for $16.99 at Amazon, but just $8.99 at Eros. (Access Bollywood reader Ron also recommends Nehaflix.)
After two weeks of new releases, there are no new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area this weekend. Next weekend sees the debut of Dum Maaro Dum and the Disney pic Zokkomon, both of which are candidates for a wide international release.
Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include Mappillai (Tamil), Shakti (Telugu), Teen Maar (Telugu) and Urumi (Malayalam) at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove is also carrying Teen Maar.
With the Cricket World Cup winding down, India turns its attention back to the movies. Game — the first Hindi film to open in the Chicago area since February 25 — stars Abhishek Bachchan as one of four suspected murderers summoned to an island to determine the identity of the real killer. The strong cast also includes Anupam Kher, Boman Irani, Kangana Ranaut and Jimmy Shergill.
The yearly Bollywood drought is underway. The only new Hindi movie scheduled for release in the whole month of March, Yeh Faasley, opens this Friday, but not in the Chicago area. Expect a flood of new films once the Cricket World Cup ends in early April.
Since there won’t be much news to report, I’m tabling my weekly theater updates in March unless a Hindi movie is showing at more than one Chicago area theater. I’ll also post if a specialty theater like the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles shows any classic Bollywood movies. Throughout the month, I’ll post DVD reviews of some recent releases and older favorites.
As of Friday, March 4, Tanu Weds Manu will be the only Hindi movie showing in the Chicago area. It gets a second week at the Golf Glen 5 and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington.
The selection of Hindi films showing in the Chicago area the weekend beginning February 11, 2011, is limited to just one movie: Patiala House. The new release stars Akshay Kumar as a London shopkeeper who waits until he’s in his 30s to defy his father and pursue his dream of being a professional cricket player. The film co-stars Rishi Kapoor and Anushka Sharma.
One new Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on January 14, 2011. Yamla Pagla Deewana stars Bollywood legend Dharmendra and his sons, actors Sunny and Bobby Deol, as a family of con artists who must rescue a pretty girl.
2011 kicks off in exciting fashion with the release of the legal thriller No One Killed Jessica. The film, based on the real-life murder of model Jessica Lal, stars Vidya Balan and Rani Mukerji as two women out for justice.
Other Indian movies showing around Chicago this weekend include Kandahar (Malayalam), Manmadhan Ambu (Tamil) and Ragada (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove will also carrying Manmadhan Ambu and Ragada.
Christmas Eve falls on a Friday this year, bumping this week’s movie release schedule forward to Wednesday. Two new Hindi films open in Chicago area theaters on December 22, 2010. The action comedy Tees Maar Khan stars Akshay Kumar as the world’s greatest thief, with Katrina Kaif playing his girlfriend. TMK is directed by choreographer Farah Khan, so expect some impressive dance numbers.
This week’s other new theatrical release is the family comedy Toonpur Ka Superhero, a mix of live action and 3D animation (though I suspect U.S. theaters will only show it in 2D). Ajay Devgan plays an actor who magically becomes a part of his kids’ favorite cartoon TV show. Devgan’s real-life wife, Kajol, plays his wife in the film.
Toonpur Ka Superhero opens on December 22 at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30. It has a runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.
Though it didn’t make it into Chicago area theaters, Isi Life Mein (“In This Life”) debuts on YouTube on Wednesday, two days before it opens internationally. The complete movie is available for rent here, though I’m not sure if it has English subtitles. Earlier this year, I rented Striker on YouTube and was pleased with the video quality. Besides, the $4.99 rental fee is cheaper than a movie ticket.
No Problem carries over at the South Barrington 30.