Tag Archives: Hindi

Bollywood Box Office: April 21-23, 2017

Sonakshi Sinha’s Noor failed to make an impact at North American box office. From April 21-23, 2017, the comedy earned $49,595 from 69 theaters ($719 average; adjusted average of $840 from 59 theaters*). While we’ve seen more disastrous opening weekends this year, Noor‘s low per-theater average indicates that distributors expected a better turnout. This is the type of scenario I was thinking of when I wrote last week about why Begum Jaan‘s opening weekend earnings were good in relative terms.

Speaking of Begum Jaan, it took in $15,397 from seventeen theaters ($906 average) in its second weekend, bringing its North American total to $109,664.

In its seventh weekend of release, Badrinath Ki Dulhania finally squeaked past $2 million in the United States and Canada. It earned another $1,556 from three theaters ($519 average), bringing its total to $2,000,285.

Naam Shabana closed out its fourth weekend with $730 from four theaters ($183 average). Its total stands at $262,303.

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

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Movie Review: Noor (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the book at Amazon

Noor is almost a good movie. It looks nice, and the talented cast members make their characters relatable. The film just never comes together in a coherent way.

The challenge with Noor is condensing a book’s worth of material into a movie of less than two hours, a feat which director Sunhil Sippy and co-writers Althea Kaushal and Shikhaa Sharma can’t manage. The threads of the various subplots never tie together in a way I’m guessing they do in Saba Imtiaz’s well-regarded novel Karachi, You’re Killing Me, upon which the film is based.

Noor (Sonakshi Sinha) is a Mumbai journalist plagued in equal parts by self-loathing and a smug sense of superiority. She films human interest stories for an online news outlet, but she’d rather be reporting on more serious issues. Her disdain for her interview subjects is so obvious that any organization would be foolish to entrust her with any topics of import.

When Noor is not blaming her editor Shekhar (Manish Chaudhary) for consigning her to a Pulitzer-less fate, she’s complaining about how no one pays attention to her while simultaneously rebuffing everyone’s attempts to reach out to her. We have to trust that the patience shown by her buddies Zara (Shibani Dandekar) and Saad (Kanan Gill of Pretentious Movie Reviews) was earned during a time when Noor wasn’t such a self-pitying grump. She’s also obsessed with her weight, a hopelessly outdated gag used so often it seems malicious.

Things finally start going Noor’s way when she falls for Ayan (Purab Kohli), a handsome international photojournalist. Then she gets a lead on what could be a huge scandal.

“Could” is the operative word. All Noor has is an interview with one alleged crime victim, yet she wants Shekhar to publish it as proof of a widespread conspiracy. Shekhar insists that they wait, but not so that Noor can gather more evidence. He wants her to think about the potential negative impact publishing it would have on her interview subject.

That’s certainly one element to consider, but there’s a larger view of journalistic ethics that gets completely ignored. What Noor has is the first germ of a story, not a complete investigation. She has zero corroborating evidence, but none of the characters acknowledge that as a problem. Publishing what she has as unassailable proof of corruption is inviting a defamation lawsuit.

Movies about investigative journalism can be riveting — seeing how badly Noor handles it made me want to watch Spotlight again — but Noor never fully shifts into being the thriller it needs to be to deal with the can of worms it opens. Trying to integrate Noor’s low-stakes romantic troubles into the high-stakes crime narrative doesn’t work.

It’s a shame, because Sinha does a nice job humanizing a complicated character. Kohli is charming, and Gill is funny and adorable. Sadly, Zara is written as little more than a walking clothes rack, so we don’t get to see what Dandekar can do.

Sippy uses some clever techniques to depict Noor for the Millennial she is. When Noor speaks in hashtags, they appear written on screen next to her. Sippy positions his own camera over Noor’s shoulder and focuses on her iPhone screen so that we can see what she sees while she records her interviews.

While Noor is certainly watchable, the cloud of what-might-have-been always hovers over it.

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Opening April 21: Noor

One new Hindi film hits Chicago area theaters on April 21, 2017. The comedy Noor — which stars Sonakshi Sinha as a Mumbai journalist — is based on the novel Karachi, You’re Killing Me! by Saba Imtiaz.

Noor opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 47 min. (Yay!)

Begum Jaan carries over for a second week at the South Barrington 24 and MovieMax Cinemas in Niles.

Local theaters have announced showtimes for Baahubali 2‘s release on Thursday, April 27. Tickets are already available for a full week of shows at MovieMax, which carries Baahubali 2 in Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi (all with English subtitles). If you want to splurge, four area theaters are showing Baahubali 2 on their IMAX screens, with 2D showings in Telugu and Tamil starting at 2:30 p.m. next Thursday: Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, Cinemark Tinseltown USA in North Aurora, and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge. Be prepared to pay for the IMAX experience, with tickets ranging in price from $30-40. I expect other non-IMAX theaters to add showtimes sometime next week.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: April 14-16, 2017

The headline for Bollywood Hungama’s latest international box office report — “‘Begum Jaan’ fails to shine in the overseas” — is a bit misleading in regard to how the movie fared in North America during its opening weekend of April 14-16, 2017. From just 34 theaters*, Begum Jaan earned $65,812, for an average of $1,936. While that total may not look like much compared to those of Bollywood movies that open on 100+ screens here, it’s big relative to other films with a similar theatrical footprint.

Median opening weekend earnings for the six Hindi films that released in fewer than 60 North American theaters this year are about $12,000. The best performance prior to Begum Jaan was by Commando 2, which opened with earnings of $40,611 from 49 theaters (40 adjusted). Begum Jaan not only improved on Commando 2‘s total by about 60%, its per-theater average of $1,936 was also substantially greater than Commando 2‘s $829 average ($1,015 adjusted). For a movie that is the definition of a niche film — Vidya Balan plays a madam in a historical drama — Begum Jaan did pretty well in its first weekend. It will likely be the first Hindi film of 2017 to open in fewer than 60 theaters to ultimately earn more than $100,000 in North America.

The weekend’s big winner was the new Punjabi film Manje Bistre, which earned $241,971 from 39 American theaters ($6,204 average) and $385,147 from nineteen Canadian theaters ($20,271 average!).

Other Bollywood movies still showing in North America:

  • Naam Shabana: Week 3; $4,756 from eleven theaters; $432 average; $260,191 total
  • Badrinath Ki Dulhania: Week 6; $4,425 from four theaters; $1,106 average; $1,997,701 total
  • Phillauri: Week 4; $3,988 from three theaters; $1,329 average; $471,522 total

* Unlike my standard weekly caveat about Bollywood Hungama counting Canadian theaters twice, it looks like they got it right for Begum Jaan! Of course, that messes up all of my data which relies upon theater numbers being wrong in a consistent way, but whatever.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Split Screen Podcast, Episode 28: The “Dulhania” Franchise

At long last, Shah Shahid and I reunite for another episode of the Split Screen Podcast, this time comparing the films Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Badrinath Ki Dulhania. We were inspired to tackle the “Dulhania” franchise in Episode 28 because of how wildly the two films differ in their representations of gender equality in romantic relationships. In short, everything great about the main characters and their relationship in Humpty goes straight down the crapper in Badrinath. Shah and I also discuss what differentiates Bollywood franchises from true sequels.

You can subscribe to the Split Screen Podcast at iTunes, or you can listen to Episode 28 in your browser on this page at Shah’s website, Blank Page Beatdown. Every episode of the Split Screen Podcast can be found here, including Shah’s take on the recent Hollywood reboot of Power Rangers. I’m featured in the following episodes:

Movie Review: Nil Battey Sannata (2016)

nilbatteysannata3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon

Nil Battey Sannata (“Good for Nothing” colloquially) is a heart-warming story about familial bonds and the importance of education. However, the movie is more than just feel-good fare, offering a canny exploration of the complexities of poverty.

Appu (Ria Shukla) is a typical teen, more fond of hanging out with her friends and mooning over film stars than studying. Also like many teens, she doesn’t understand the lengths her mother goes to just to keep a roof over their heads.

As a single mother and the family’s sole breadwinner, Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) wears a lot of hats. She works as a maid for Dr. Diwan (Ratna Pathak) in the morning and does odd jobs at night, washing dishes or sewing clothes. When she comes home, she cooks and cleans so that Appu can focus on her studies.

Even though Appu is in her final year of high school, mother and daughter haven’t discussed Appu’s future plans. Chanda assumed her own toil would enable Appu to go to college, an opportunity high school dropout Chanda never had. She is stunned when Appu says she wants to be a maid like her mom.

Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s story — co-written with her husband, Dangal director Nitesh Tiwari — doesn’t lay all of the blame on Appu, though the girl’s disdain for school is a huge hurdle. Her lack of ambition is partly a product of her surroundings. Everyone she knows is poor or a laborer, so what good will an education do her? Her friend, Pintu (Prashant Tiwari), plans to become a driver like his father. He’s befuddled when Chanda asks him if he wouldn’t rather own the car than drive for someone else.

Chanda’s perspective is also limited by her financial circumstances. She knows she can’t afford the tuition for medical school or engineering school, but she doesn’t know of any other jobs that could provide the comfortable lifestyle she envisions for Appu. By happenstance, Chanda meets a man being chauffeured in an air-conditioned car, and she learns that he’s the local tax collector. She immediately determines that’s the job that Appu must pursue.

Appu’s intellectual laziness has caused her to fall behind in math. With expensive tutoring out of the question, Chanda heeds Dr. Diwan’s advice and enrolls in Appu’s class so that she can tutor her daughter herself. Of course, nothing could be more mortifying to Appu than having her mom as a classmate, clad in a school uniform and all. Chanda’s efforts to help her daughter cause friction between the two of them, straining their formerly close bonds.

Bhaskar is charming and sympathetic as Chanda, though it’s hard not to pull for a mother who’ll go to any lengths for her daughter. Shukla’s job is harder given that Appu is often a pill, but the actress pulls it off, making her character relatable. Even at Appu’s worst moments, the audience can always tell that she’s a good kid at heart, thanks to Shukla’s performance.

The mother-daughter relationship is the core of Nil Battey Sannata, but Iyer Tiwari does an admirable job depicting a concept that’s hard to understand, namely the way poverty complicates all aspects of a person’s life. It’s easy to prescribe education as the ultimate solution to economic hardship, but Chanda’s and Appu’s story shows that money isn’t the only scarce resource for those on the margins. Time, experience, and connections are almost as important — and almost as rare, too.

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Opening April 14: Begum Jaan

One new Bollywood movie makes a limited debut in Chicago area theaters on April 14, 2017. The historical drama Begum Jaan stars Vidya Balan as a madam whose brothel falls right along the Partition line.

Begum Jaan opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 9 min. (Programming note: Since Begum Jaan isn’t showing in a theater near me, I won’t review it this weekend. I will post a new review of another movie I really liked on Friday, so stay tuned.)

The only other Hindi film showing locally this Easter weekend is Naam Shabana, which carries over for a third week at Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include: