Tag Archives: Hindi

Opening June 5: Bharat

Salman Khan’s annual Eid release for 2019 is Bharat. The history-spanning drama — based on the Korean film Ode to My Father — hits Chicago theaters on June 5 and co-stars Katrina Kaif.

Bharat opens on Wednesday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, Regal Round Lake Beach in Round Lake Beach, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and AMC Crestwood 18 in Crestwood. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Also new on Wednesday are the Urdu films Wrong No. 2 — opening at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera — and Chhalawa, which opens at the South Barrington 24 on Wednesday and Cantera on Thursday.

De De Pyaar De gets a fourth week at the South Barrington 24 and MovieMax, which also holds over India’s Most Wanted.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Advertisements

Bollywood Box Office: May 31-June 2, 2019

The weekend of May 31-June 2, 2019, was predictably slow for Bollywood movies in North America because of the impending release of Salman Khan’s Bharat on June 5, but there’s also a real lack of audience interest in the Hindi films currently on offer. Three-week-old De De Pyaar De led the way with $64,458 from 52 theaters ($1,240), according to Bollywood Hungama. With $992,995 in earnings so far, the comedy is on the verge of becoming the tenth Hindi film to earn $1 million in North America this year.

That’s where the good news ends. Both of the films in their second weekend of release failed to average $1,000 in per-theater earnings. PM Narendra Modi took in $12,110 from 16 theaters ($757 average), bringing its total to $109,885. India’s Most Wanted was absolutely tragic, earning $18,111 from 80 theaters — a per-theater average of just $226, according to Box Office Mojo. Even with its large theatrical footprint (having opened on 110 screens), it’s only managed to earn $168,016 here so far.

Photograph is struggling as well. In its third weekend, it earned $44,234 from 81 theaters ($546 average), bringing its total to $302,463. That’s almost exactly what director Ritesh Batra’s previous film The Lunchbox had earned at the end of its third weekend back in 2014: $306,347. However, The Lunchbox was only showing in 18 theaters at the time and was averaging almost $5,000 per screen. The Lunchbox didn’t hit its peak theater count (165) until Week 9, and its per-theater average didn’t fall below $1,000 until Week 15. The Lunchbox finished its run with $4.2 million in earnings, but it looks like Photograph might top out at about 10% of that.

Student of the Year 2 closed out its fourth weekend with $751 from three theaters, bringing its total to $738,134.

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

In Theaters: May 31, 2019

With Salman Khan’s Bharat releasing in the middle of next week, no new Hindi films open in the Chicago area on Friday, May 31, 2019. After a lousy first weekend in North America, India’s Most Wanted carries over at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera in Warrenville.

Last weekend’s other new release — PM Narendra Modi — sticks around at the South Barrington 24, which hangs on to Student of the Year 2 as well and gets Photograph on Friday.

De De Pyaar De carries over for a third week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, and AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Bollywood Box Office: May 24-26, 2019

May 24-26, 2019, was a bad weekend for Bollywood films in North America, both in terms of performance and available information. None of the popular resources reported box office data for either De De Pyaar De or Student of the Year 2.

The three Hindi films for which info exists all did poorly. India’s Most Wanted opened in 110 theaters and earned just $98,322 ($894 average), according to Box Office Mojo. The other new release — PM Narendra Modi — earned $52,643 from 49 theaters ($1,074 average), per Bollywood Hungama. And Photograph‘s second-weekend expansion into 123 theaters resulted in $130,750 in earnings ($1,063 average), bringing the drama’s total to $180,560. Definitely a Memorial Day weekend to forget.

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, and Box Office Mojo

Movie Review: Student of the Year 2 (2019)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

With an opening scene that features hundreds of students celebrating the start of an intercollegiate competition by chanting, “Student! Student!”, it’s clear that Student of the Year 2 (“SOTY2” henceforth) is not meant to be intellectually challenging. Nevertheless, the romantic comedy-drama sequel is plenty of fun, with some surprisingly rich character development.

Though not a direct sequel to 2012’s Student of the Year, SOTY2 is made in the same narrative mold as the first: a low-income university student competes against his well-heeled contemporaries for respect and the love of a pretty girl. While the original SOTY launched the careers of three newcomers who would become big stars — Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, and Sidharth Malhotra — SOTY2 is star Tiger Shroff’s sixth leading role.

This time Shroff plays Rohan, a working class student at the underfunded Pishorilal Chamandas College where he excels at the sport kabaddi. His wealthy childhood sweetheart Mridula (Tara Sutaria) attends hoity-toity St. Teresa’s College. Without telling Mridula about his plan, Rohan gets an athletic scholarship and transfers to St. Teresa’s to be closer to her.

Rohan is a fish out of water at his new school, where everyone wears designer clothes and drives sports cars. He’s no longer the best athlete, with that distinction belonging to Manav (Aditya Seal), the reigning intercollegiate Student of the Year titleholder. Rohan makes an enemy of Manav’s snobby, vindictive sister Shreya (Ananya Panday, daughter of actor Chunky Pandey). Even Mridula — who goes by “Mia” on campus — acts less than thrilled to see poor Rohan on her fancy turf.

While Rohan could find a place at St. Teresa’s as one of Manav’s toadies, that won’t impress Mridula. What starts out as a good-natured rivalry between the two campus studs changes when Manav realizes Rohan’s ambitions, and Manav reminds Rohan of the hierarchy in the harshest way possible. But Rohan finds an unexpected ally in Shreya, who’s tired of living in her brother’s shadow. Maybe Rohan’s been trying to impress the wrong woman.

Though Shroff is typically drawn to action movies, he’s more charming in a lighter role like this that requires some self-awareness. Shroff nicely depicts Rohan’s struggle to fit in, as well as his realization that he should’ve been kinder to his peers back when he was Big Man on Campus at his old college.

Shreya’s character development is even more impressive than Rohan’s. She evolves from spoiled and aloof to generous and kind, as Rohan learns more about her troubled home life, while still keeping the core of her character intact. Her instinct to respond to slights with cattiness never changes, but she begins to curb her impulsiveness. One would never guess that this is Panday’s first feature role, she’s that good.

This is also Sutaria’s first feature role, having started her career in television. She doesn’t quite match the charisma of Shroff or Panday, but her character isn’t as deep as either of theirs. Mridula is written as shallow and fickle, which doesn’t leave Sutaria much room to maneuver.

Manav is also one-note — a rich bully from start to finish. Seal has to deliver dopey lines with a straight face, such as the multiple times Manav calls Rohan “loser of the year.” On the positive side, Seal and Sutaria are the best dancers of the lead quartet.

The film’s dance numbers are fun and impressive in scale, although they do have some weird elements. Will Smith strolls across the stage during one song for absolutely no reason. A couple of numbers feature a bunch of white women in cheerleader outfits, which stands out because there aren’t any non-Indian male students at St. Teresa. Also, one of my friends was crushed to discover that “Mumbai Dilli Di Kudiyaan” was just released for promotional purposes and wasn’t actually in the movie.

SOTY2 also has a lot of kabaddi scenes, which are sort of exciting, but I didn’t come out of the film understanding anything more about the rules than I did going in. (Although I was delighted to learn that you’re allowed to kick people in kabaddi.) There are also some unrealistic track and field sequences that have slow-motion shots of Manav turning to stare at Rohan in the middle of a race and looking aghast. As the leadoff runner for Westmont High School’s state-qualifying 800-meter medley relay team in 1994, I can assure you that there isn’t time for such theatrics during a sprint.

Then again, the whole premise of the Student of the Year competition is ridiculous to begin with. It’s only available to male students, there’s no academic component, and it only features two events — one of which is a team sport. Points are accrued by school, not by individual, yet the final award is given to a single participant. It’s pretty dumb if you think about it, so better to just enjoy Student of the Year 2 for its lavish dance numbers and Ananya Panday’s promising debut.

Links

Opening May 24: India’s Most Wanted and PM Narendra Modi

Two new Hindi films hit Chicago area theaters on May 24, 2019. The Arjun Kapoor spy thriller India’s Most Wanted gets the wider release of the two.

India’s Most Wanted opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 4 min.

Also new this week is the political biopic PM Narendra Modi, opening Friday at the South Barrington 24 and Cantera. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 10 min.

De De Pyaar De carries over for a second week at the Niles 12, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, and AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont.

Photograph gets at second week at the River East 21, Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago, and Renaissance Place Cinema in Highland Park.

Student of the Year 2 holds over for a third week at the South Barrington 24 and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Bollywood Box Office: May 17-19, 2019

The romantic comedy De De Pyaar De got off to an okay start in North America. From May 17-19, 2019, it earned $425,934 from 104 theaters ($4,096 average), according to Box Office Mojo.

The weekend also marked the local debut of director Ritesh Batra’s Photograph, which released in India back in March. The drama earned $35,796 from 13 theaters ($2,754 average), though it will likely add theaters and expand to other cities in the coming weeks.

Student of the Year 2 didn’t hold up as well in its second weekend as its predecessor did. Back in 2012, Student of the Year carried over 40% of its opening weekend business into its second weekend, but SOTY2‘s holdover was just 22% — $103,381 from 189 theaters ($547 average). Look for it to lose a lot of theaters going into its third weekend. Its total stands at $724,058.

Other Hindi movies showing in North America:

  • Kalank: Week 5; $2,536 from six theaters; $423 average; $2,729,336 total
  • The Tashkent Files: Week 6; $1,411 from three theaters; $470 average; $66,831 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Opening May 17: De De Pyaar De and Photograph

Two new Hindi films open in the Chicago area on May 17, 2019. The wider release of the two goes to De De Pyaar De, a romantic comedy in which Ajay Devgn leaves Tabu for a woman half his age (Rakul Preet Singh). It’s written by filmmaker Luv Ranjan, who treated the female characters like garbage in his movie Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2. I’m sitting this one out.

De De Pyaar De opens Friday at the AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Also new this weekend is Photograph, the latest film from The Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra. The romantic drama stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra.

Photograph opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Landmark Century Centre Cinema, and Century 12 Evanston in Evanston. Photograph is rated PG-13 and has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 50 min.

After an okay opening weekend, Student of the Year 2 carries over for a second week at the River East 21, MovieMax, Rosemont 18, South Barrington 24, Cantera, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Kalank gets a fifth week at the South Barrington 24.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Bollywood Box Office: May 10-12, 2019

Student of the Year 2 had a fine opening weekend in North American theaters. From May 10-12, 2019, the sequel earned $462,108 from 190 theaters ($2,432 average), according to Box Office Mojo. This year’s median opening weekend per-theater average is just over $3,000, and SOTY2‘s is well short of that. A $1 million final total here seems like a stretch.

Yet SOTY2‘s opening weekend is on par with Student of the Year‘s opening weekend back in October, 2012. The original also had an ambitious release strategy, opening in 106 theaters and earning $326,508 that weekend ($3,080 average). It ended its North American run five weeks later with $670,086 total. SOTY‘s second-weekend earnings were 40% of its first-weekend earnings, so let’s see if SOTY2 can match that.

Other Hindi films showing in North American theaters:

  • Kalank: Week 4; $13,839 from 19 theaters; $728 average; $2,729,336 total
  • The Tashkent Files: Week 5; $4,577 from two theaters; $2,289 average; $64,450 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Movie Review: Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (2019)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at Amazon or iTunes

With Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (“How I Felt When I Saw That Girl“, ELKDTAL henceforth), debutant filmmaker Shelly Chopra Dhar set out to change how India thinks about LGBTQ people, both in terms of social acceptance and as an untapped well of cinematic storytelling possibilities. Her film is caring, thoughtful exploration of how a conservative family deals with a gay family member.

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja uses her star-power for good to play Sweety Chaudhary, a closeted lesbian from the Punjabi town of Moga. While on a trip to New Delhi, she ducks into a theater during play rehearsals to hide from a man we later learn is her brother, Babloo (Abhishek Duhan). Intrigued by Sweety’s good looks and her insightful critique of the awful play, its floundering writer, Sahil (Rajkummar Rao), helps her escape to a train station.

Sahil finds out where Sweety lives and heads to Moga under the pretext of running an acting workshop. There, a series of misunderstandings convince Sweety’s father Balbir (Anil Kapoor), her grandmother Gifty (Madhumalti Kapoor), and Sahil himself that Sweety is secretly in love with him.

Sweety explains to Sahil that she’s in love with a woman named Kuhu (Regina Cassandra). Babloo knows this and disapproves of his sister’s feelings, which is why he followed her to New Delhi and why she’d hidden from him in Sahil’s theater. Bereft of ideas for how to live a life true to herself, Sweety lets Sahil use his storytelling skills in a daring plan to win over her family and the town of Moga.

Director Shelly Chopra Dhar set herself the daunting task of making a movie that anyone could enjoy, but that would also open the minds of a particular segment of the audience. In an interview with The Telegraph, Chopra Dhar explains that her target audience was not progressive urbanites already accepting of LGBTQ people, but “people who’re genuinely not there”: those in smaller cities and towns in India who may have little personal exposure to gay people. So as not to risk scaring those people away, there is no same-sex kissing in ELKDTAL, only some affectionate hugging and hand-holding between Sweety and Kuhu — a choice consistent with the chaste way many mainstream Hindi films still depict straight romance.

Chopra Dhar also says in the interview that she had to consider ELKDTAL‘s setting when trying to reach her intended audience. Small-town folks might feel disconnected from an urban story, and a village setting could make the film seem too artsy and not commercial enough (which is why she made Balbir a rich factory owner). Although she wanted the serious message of acceptance to come through, she needed to relate to her audience in an uplifting way: “It’s not a dark and dingy film either. Why can’t it be a nice, bright film and be natural?”

ELKDTAL feels breezy and familiar, and its dramatic elements are balanced by two comic subplots. One involves the Chaudhary family staff — played by Seema Bhargava and Brijendra Kala, who is adorable in the film — betting on who Sweety will finally marry. Another features Juhi Chawla as Chatro, a goofy caterer with acting ambitions who catches Balbir’s eye. The tonal shifts between the comedy and drama elements aren’t seamless, but they never take the film off track.

In many ways, ELKDTAL‘s story is less about Sweety’s journey than how people react when she opens up to them. As the audience’s onscreen avatar, Sahil meets Sweety and decides she’s someone who deserves friendship and help, reinforcing the story’s message of judging someone by the content of their character. Sweety’s father, Balbir, already loves her, but he doesn’t see her for who she really is — in part because Sweety felt compelled to hide the truth from him. Balbir’s challenge is to accept what is, to him, a new facet of his daughter’s life, but also to see the way his own expectations for her made her life harder and less happy. It forces the audience to question whether we’ve let our own loved ones down by expecting them to be someone they’re not.

The downside to this narrative focus is that Sweety is acted upon more than she drives the action, but Kapoor Ahuja is fully engaged in every scene, her reactions always showing us how Sweety feels even when her character isn’t the center of attention. Same goes for Rao and Kapoor, whose love for his real-life daughter (Kapoor Ahuja) spills over into Balbir’s affection for Sweety. While ELKDTAL‘s laudable social goals are the perfect reason to start the movie, the film’s delightful performances make you want to see it through to the end.

Links