With no new Bollywood films in theaters, the North American box office depended on older releases during the weekend of June 26-28, 2015. The 3D dance sequel ABCD 2 led the weekend, earning another $154,260 from 123 theaters ($1,254 average). Its 10-day total of $768,435 ranks it the fourth highest earning Bollywood movie in the US and Canada in 2015.
In its fourth week of release, Dil Dhadakne Do added another $104,838 from 247 theaters ($424 average) to bring its total earnings to $2,925,626. Even though the movie’s foot traffic is slowing down, the lack of a marquee release during the upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend should enable DDD to clear the $3 million mark in North America.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns‘ impressive run nears its end. In its sixth weekend, it earned $14,248 from 141 theaters ($101 average), bringing its North American total to $3,015,069. Even if DDD overtakes TWMR in terms of total earnings, the fact that TWMR earned nearly as much while opening on over 100 fewer screens than DDD gives TWMR the moral victory.
Hamari Adhuri Kahani lingered for a third weekend on just four screens, taking in another $1,306 ($327 average). Its North American total stands at $171,778.
ABCD 2 turned in the fourth highest opening weekend of the 2015, nearly doubling the earnings of ABCD‘s 2013 run in just three days. During the weekend of June 19-21, ABCD 2 earned $438,539 from 166 theaters in the US and Canada ($2,642 average).
Strong numbers aside, the dance sequel fell short of expectations. Its per-screen average was only the seventh highest of the year, despite releasing into the third highest number of theaters and charging premium 3D ticket prices. With little else of note releasing in the coming weeks, and with most American students finally out of school for the summer, ABCD 2 could still double its opening weekend take over the course of its run.
Hamari Adhuri Kahani fell off significantly in its second weekend, earning $18,255 from 26 theaters ($702 average). Its North American total stands at $161,038.
Dil Dhadakne Do added another $225,998 from 111 theaters ($2,036 average), bringing its three-week total to $2,732,535.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns inched closer to a $3 million North American total, earning $35,777 from 20 theaters ($1,789 average) in its fifth weekend. Its total presently stands at $2,986,278.
Piku held on for a seventh weekend in two theaters, earning another $1,997 ($999 average) to bring its total to $2,220,648.
The 3D Bollywood film ABCD 2 hits Chicago area theaters on June 19, 2015. The followup to 2013’s ABCD: Any Body Can Dance is a sequel in name only, as many of the actors from the original are back, but in different roles. Prabhu Deva plays characters named Vishnu in both films, but I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be the same guy. Whatever. The dancing is what’s important here, not franchise continuity.
Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Eli (Tamil) at the South Barrington 30 and MovieMax, which also carries Vinavayya Ramayya (Telugu), Krishnamma Kalipindi Iddarini (Telugu), Premam (Malayalam), Ranna (Kannada), Kerintha (Telugu), and Ivide (Malayalam).
Hamari Adhuri Kahani didn’t exactly light up the North American box office during its opening weekend. From June 12-14, 2015, it earned $94,005 from 67 theaters ($1,403 average). That’s a slightly below average opening weekend total from a slightly below average number of theaters. Nothing special, but nothing tragic.
Hamari Adhuri Kahani‘s opening weekend performance was significantly better than the opening weekend performance of Emraan Hashmi’s Mr. X back in April ($24,806 from 62 theaters). However, it wasn’t as good as the first weekend take of Vidya Balan’s last solo-starring effort, Bobby Jasoos in July of 2014 ($143,559 from 71 theaters). It’s also down from the last film to co-star Hashmi and Balan, 2013’s Ghanchakkar, which opened with $143,616 from 89 theaters.
Of those four films, the one with the highest per-screen average was Bobby Jasoos ($2,022). Maybe it’s time for Balan to cut Hashmi loose professionally.
[Update: Box Office Mojo lists a significantly higher total of $131,263 from the same number of theaters for Hamari Adhuri Kahani. Yet even Mojo’s higher per-screen average of $1,959 is still lower than that of Bobby Jasoos.]
Dil Dhadakne Do posted solid second weekend earnings of $544,239 from 259 theaters ($2,101 average), bringing its North American total to $2,292,732. Its 58% drop in business from Weekend 1 to Weekend 2 was larger than those recorded by Tanu Weds Manu Returns (-28%) and Piku(-38%). However, DDD should hold up well in the weeks to come given that ABCD2 is the only Bollywood release of note until the middle of July.
In its fourth weekend, Tanu Weds Manu Returns earned another $101,443 from 55 theaters ($1,844 average) to bring its North American total to $2,911,462.
Piku — now in its sixth week — brought its total North American earnings to $2,215,749 by adding another $7,172 from six theaters ($1,195 average).
“He is so stupid.” In an otherwise quiet theater, one woman spoke for all of us as Emraan Hashmi’s character in Hamari Adhuri Kahani set out to do something moronic. This is not a good movie.
That’s not to say that Hamari Adhuri Kahani (“Our Incomplete Story” in English) isn’t fun, albeit unintentionally. The audience laughed heartily when Hashmi’s character’s mother said, in all seriousness, “Who is this wandering soul who feels like a kindred spirit?” More chuckles when a hotel owner asked, “Is this a business meeting or an insulting session?”
Hamari Adhuri Kahani is among the most earnest, corniest movies ever. It feels like it was written by a clever 15-year-old girl who isn’t as worldly-wise as she thinks she is. That it is actually written by a man in his mid-60s — Mahesh Bhatt — is a problem.
Vidya Balan plays Vasudha, a hotel florist and single mother of a 5-year-old son, Saanj. Her husband, Hari (Rajkummar Rao), ran off just after Saanj was born, yet Vasudha is regularly caught off guard by questions about her husband’s whereabouts. After five years, she doesn’t have a pat answer?
Her world is turned upside down when her exemplary customer service impresses hotelier Aarav (Hashmi). Aarav is a teen-girl-fantasy: a lonely rich guy who wants nothing more than to make all of Vasudha’s dreams come true. That he wants to do so primarily to make up for his own childhood as the impoverished son of a single mother who worked in a hotel just makes things weird.
Vasudha and Aarav are overly melodramatic about everything. He makes an entire plane full of passengers wait so that he can smell some flowers that remind him of her. She’s torn by the fact that she’s married, even though Hari is a cartoonish jerk who may be a terrorist.
As if emotional fireworks aren’t enough, there are actual fireworks. Also a hotel fire, bullets, and landmines. Essentially, Hamari Adhuri Kahani is a series of wordy, teary-eyed scenes with cheesy dialogue followed by explosions.
Since every scene is overwrought, it’s impossible to misunderstand what’s happening in the movie. Still, international audience members will miss out on the significance of many cultural and religious references. Vasudha’s marriage fulfills some sort of religious obligation, and though the particular religion isn’t named, it’s clear that she’s basically property transferred from her father to her husband. (I can’t verify if this is orthodox to the religion depicted, but director Mohit Suri’s point is explicit.)
Vasudha’s future plans are also questioned in cultural context: is she going to be like Sita in her marriage to Ram or like Radha in her relationship with Krishna? Again, I’m not overly familiar with either parable, but the meaning is apparent: does Vasudha want to be a devoted wife even at the expense of her own life (Sita-Ram), or does she want a more egalitarian kind of love (Radha-Krishna)?
The cultural and religious references are used to criticize the historically unequal treatment of women in India. One older woman says ruefully, “Even after they are dead, men still control a woman’s body.” The movie’s feminist sentiment feels hollow for a couple of reasons.
First, Vasudha is a dud. It’s hard to care about such a passive heroine. When she finally decides to take action, the action is to beg Hari to stop being such a jerk.
Second, Vasudha’s romance with Aarav is a relic of Bollywood stalker love stories. In a dramatic conversation in the middle of desert in front of an approaching sandstorm, Aarav uses as proof of Vasudha’s love for him…a piece of paper upon which he has written her name multiple times. Wait, what? How exactly do his schoolboy doodles prove that she loves him?
It doesn’t ultimately matter, since Vasudha eventually begs Aarav to teach her how to love again (more begging!). There’s not much Balan and Hashmi can do with such one-dimensional characters. Same for Rao, who just shows up periodically to be mean in different wigs.
The resolution to Aarav’s arc is telegraphed, yet it’s so cornball that it’s hard to believe that Suri will go through with it until it actually happens. When it does, it is sublimely ridiculous. Hamari Adhuri Kahani is stupid, yet I left the theater with a smile on my face.