Tag Archives: Indian

Movie Review: Kedarnath (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Two lovers on opposite sides of a religious and class divide fall in love just before their world falls apart in Kedarnath. The compelling central romance is eclipsed by a well-executed disaster sequence based on the tragic floods of June, 2013, which destroyed much of Kedarnath and killed thousands.

Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput) works as a porter, ferrying Hindu pilgrims and their belongings up the winding mountain path to Kedarnath Temple. He and the other Muslim porters and shopkeepers have a history of cooperation with the Hindu innkeepers, allowing everyone to make a steady living during the six months of the year that the temple is accessible.

An upstart Hindu landowner, Kullu (Nishant Dahiya), sees profit in building a fancy new hotel in the valley, increasing the number of pilgrims and displacing a number of shopkeepers in the process. Mansoor — whose mother’s shop would be demolished to make way for the hotel — argues that more buildings and pilgrims could put the infrastructure of the whole valley at risk. Briraaj (Nitish Bharadwaj), a Hindu priest, appreciates Mansoor’s dedication to Kedarnath despite not being a Hindu himself.

That appreciation only extends so far, however. Briraaj isn’t about to let his younger daughter, Mukku (Sara Ali Khan), date a Muslim. Mansoor’s relationship with her exposes simmering inter-religious divisions and provides a pretext for violence, led by Kullu, who’s engaged to Mukku after dumping her older sister, Brinda (the beautiful Pooja Gor). The floods hit before the town can erupt into full-scale riots.

Khan shows poise and charisma in her first film role, but Mukku is problematic. She has a lot in common with stereotypical Bollywood man-child protagonists in that she’s immature and unable to see things from other’s perspectives. She has no regard for how her romance with Mansoor affects him, his family, or the other Muslims in the valley, so confident is she that her desires are right simply because she desires them.

Unlike the typical man-child protagonist character arc in which he finds a woman who makes him aware of the world and his role in it, Mukku’s worldview doesn’t change. Her position as the privileged daughter of a powerful man makes her overestimate her ability to shape her world to her will. If she’s just persistent enough, she can break down Mansoor’s barriers and make him fall in love with her. That same persistence will get her out of her engagement to Kullu, she believes. She’s even convinced that she can influence cricket matches and the weather.

Having been mostly insulated from negative consequences thus far, Mukku fails to account for all of the other factors that influence the events in her life, like the desires of other people, the lucky bounce of a cricket ball, and the randomness of a natural disaster. Mukku’s arrogance makes one question whether, from a narrative standpoint, her star-crossed romance with Mansoor is a worthy enough endeavor to balance the deaths of thousands in raging floodwaters.

That balance undermines the vibrant romantic tension conjured by Khan and Rajput. This is Rajput’s most charming performance in years after lackluster outings in M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story and Raabta, a reminder of how good he can be in the right role. It would be fun to see these two leads pair up again in the future after Khan gains more acting experience.

Director Abhishek Kapoor successfully blends practical effects with computer generated ones in Kedarnath‘s climactic disaster, with Rajput and Khan battling treacherous waters in thrilling sequences. The rarity of Bollywood disaster movies is perhaps reason enough to watch Kedarnath, coupled with the intrigued of a star scion’s debut (Khan’s father is Saif Ali Khan). If only the central romance matched the film’s spectacle.

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In Theaters: December 14, 2018

We’re in the lull before Zero hits theaters, so there are no new Bollywood movies opening in the Chicago area the weekend beginning December 14, 2018. After a strong opening weekend, Kedarnath carries over at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

2.0 holds over in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi at MovieMax (2D only), South Barrington 24 (3D only), and Cantera 17 (3D and 2D), while the following theaters carry the 3D version of the sci-fi sequel only in Tamil: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge.

Badhaai Ho gets a ninth week at the South Barrington 24.

Other Indian films playing at MovieMax Cinemas this weekend include Odiyan (Malayalam), Thuppakki Munai (Tamil), Hushaaru (Telugu), Johnny (Tamil), Banjara: The Truck Driver (Punjabi), Mumbai Pune Mumbai 3 (Marathi), and Joseph (Malayalam).

Bollywood Box Office: December 7-9, 2018

Kedarnath had quite a good opening weekend in North America — fifteenth best in a field of 53 Hindi and multilingual films released here this year, in fact. From December 7-9, 2018, the romantic drama earned $374,964 from 117 theaters ($3,205 average), according to Bollywood Hungama.

It’s showing was all the more impressive given that 2.0 had another great weekend as well, taking in $788,976 from 288 theaters ($2,740 average). The multilingual sci-fi sequel is on the brink of crossing the $5 million mark here, with $4,870,335 in total earnings across all languages so far.

Ayushmann Khurrana’s two films are still going strong, with Badhaai Ho earning $16,181 from 13 theaters ($1,245 average) in its eighth weekend of release. Its total stands at $3,312,100. In its tenth weekend of release, Andhadhun took in $6,398 from five theaters ($1,280 average), bringing its total to $1,368,448.

And then there’s Thugs of Hindostan. In its fifth weekend, it earned $770 from two theaters — one in the United States and one in Canada. The US’s contribution to that total? $10. Imagine a weekend of screenings at that US theater, all empty except for one person sitting alone in one of those showings (okay, maybe two people if it was a matinée). Thugs of Hindostan is stuck just shy of $2 million, with $1,982,112 in total North American earnings.

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Opening December 7: Kedarnath

Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Sara makes her film debut opposite Sushant Singh Rajput in the romantic drama/disaster movie Kedarnath, opening in Chicago area theaters December 7, 2018. It looks kinda awesome.

Kedarnath opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr 59 min.

After a $3 million opening weekend in the United States, 2.0 carries over in 3D in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi at the River East 21, MovieMax (2D only), South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, Woodridge 18, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge.

Badhaai Ho gets an eighth week at the South Barrington 24.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: November 30-December 2, 2018

Rajinikanth’s 2.0 did blockbuster numbers in its opening weekend in North America, as expected. From November 30-December 2, 2018, the multilingual sci-fi sequel took in $2,770,738 from 315 theaters ($8,796 average), according to 143 Cinema. Adding in returns from Wednesday night preview shows and a full day of screenings on Thursday brought its total to $3,753,667 by the end of Sunday. By this point, 2.0 has already cleared $4 million here.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Badhaai Ho: Week 7; $25,002 from 17 theaters; $1,471 average; $3,284,458 total
  • Andhadhun: Week 9; $9,437 from seven theaters; $1,348 average; $1,356,669 total
  • Thugs of Hindostan: Week 4; $2,865 from six theaters; $478 average; $1,978,868 total

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

Movie Review: Karwaan (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Watch the movie on Amazon Prime
Buy the soundtrack on iTunes

The dehumanizing nature of modern office culture is ideal movie fodder. Companies tout their soul-crushing policies as necessary for the sake of “efficiency” — code for cutting labor costs to increase the profits of shareholders and executives. Karwaan (“Caravan“) beautifully puts the lie to this vision of efficiency, showing instead how interpersonal connections and generosity are often better tools for getting things done than cold bureaucracy.

Dissatisfied IT worker Avinash (Dulquer Salmaan) learns of his father Prakash’s (Akash Khurana) death via a curt phone call from a travel agent informing him where to pick up the body. The two men hadn’t spoken in years, since Prakash forced his son to abandon a promising photography career for a job offering financial stability. Avinash followed his father’s wishes but never forgave him, ground down by a boring job in an office where posters touting the employees’ replaceability are considered motivational.

The body shipped to the airport in Bangalore is not that of Avinash’s father but of a woman who died in the same bus accident. The airport’s cargo supervisor isn’t keen to track down Dad’s body, leaving it to Avinash to arrange a swap with Tahira (Amala Akkineni), the daughter of the dead woman who received Prakash’s body by mistake. Avinash hops in a van with his jaded friend Shaukat (Irrfan Khan), and they drive to Kochi to make the exchange.

The road trip gives Avinash opportunities to showcase just how much one man can accomplish with a generous spirit — and a van. Tahira calls in panic when she can’t reach her daughter at college, prompting a side trip to Ooty to pick up free-spirited Tanya (Mithila Palkar). Conservative, grumpy Shaukat almost calls off the caravan when he sees Tanya wearing a dress that hits above the knee, but Avinash prevails, giving the trio further opportunities to do good on their way to Kochi.

Tanya’s youthful exuberance affirms Avinash’s altruism but highlights the rut he’s fallen into after years demoralizing office work. He judges Tanya irresponsible for her drinking, smoking, and casual flings, only to realize how much he must sound like his own dad to someone younger.

Though Shaukat’s attitude toward Tanya and some of Avinash’s own behavior are sexist, the movie itself isn’t. Akarsh Khurana’s screenplay and direction always side with Tanya’s right to make her own choices, especially since she’s not hurting anyone else and isn’t that irresponsible in the first place. Given that Tanya’s the one who instigates a side trip to return the belongings of another bus crash victim, she’s a net positive for the world.

Irrfan Khan is typically charismatic, but he never hogs the spotlight from his co-stars. Salmaan and Palkar are at their best during their scenes together. In an industry where 50-something actors routinely romance women in their 20s onscreen, it’s refreshing that Khurana’s script precludes a romance between Avinash and Tanya because of their age difference. It allows for a greater variety of scenes than we normally get when two attractive young performers are paired together.

Karwaan isn’t an explosive film — there’s exactly one action sequence, and it’s not handled that well — but sometimes you just want a movie about nice people doing nice things. Karwaan is that movie. Enjoy it.

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In Theaters: November 22, 2018

Pickin’s are slim for Chicago area Bollywood fans this long Thanksgiving weekend. For the holiday period beginning Thursday, November 22, 2018, there are just two options: Thugs of Hindostan and Badhaai Ho, both showing at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington. That’s it.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: November 16-18, 2018

If you thought Thugs of Hindostan had a bad first weekend in North American theaters, then buckle up. Its second weekend was a lot worse. From November 16-18, 2018, Thugs of Hindostan earned $150,387 from 178 theaters ($845 average) in the United States and Canada, according to Bollywood Hungama. So far, it hasn’t even earned $2 million here, with a total stuck at $1,876,932. The figures were so bad that Yash Raj Films didn’t even bother to report its data to Box Office Mojo. In India, exhibitors are demanding compensation for their loses.

That second-weekend total represents an 87% drop from its first weekend, which almost never happens for Hindi movies that get wide releases in North America. A notable exception is 2018’s other major flop, Race 3, which ranks just ahead of Thugs on the 1st-to-2nd-weekend holdover list with a drop of 85%. The median 1st-to-2nd-weekend business drop for the year is 75%, but the movies that fall below that mark overwhelmingly release in fewer than 100 theaters. The only other exception this year is Aiyaary, which debuted in 152 theaters, but even it only saw its business fall by about 77% — a healthy number by comparison.

Cinemas fared much better with a pair of older Hindi titles. Five-week-old Badhaai Ho took in $81,850 from 33 theaters ($2,480 average), bringing its total to an amazing $3,122,493. Seven-week-old Andhadhun earned $19,686 from ten theaters ($1,969 average), for total earnings of $1,303,946.

Other Bollywood movies still showing in US theaters:

  • Baazaar: Week 4; $398 from two theaters; $199 average; $326,384 total
  • Namaste England: Week 5; $10 from one theater; $109,698

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

In Theaters: November 16, 2018

Despite a lackluster $1 million opening weekend, Thugs of Hindostan is still the main game in town for Chicago area Bollywood fans the weekend beginning Friday, November 16, 2018. Thugs carries over (in standard format only) at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and AMC Loews Crestwood 18 in Crestwood.

Badhaai Ho gets a fifth week at MovieMax and Cantera 17, and South Barrington 24, which also holds over Andhadhun for an amazing seventh week.

Other Indian and Bangladeshi movies showing in Chicago area theaters:

Bollywood Box Office: November 9-11, 2018

Thugs of Hindostan‘s opening weekend was not great considering it released in the most theaters of any Hindi movie in North America this year. From November 9-11, 2018, it earned $1,185,386 from 377 theaters ($3,144 average), according to Box Office Mojo. Adding $264,462 from opening day collections on Thursday brings the swashbuckler’s 4-day total to $1,449,848. Its Friday-Sunday total is only fourth best for the year, even though 35 of those theaters charged higher ticket prices to show Thugs on their IMAX screens.

Thugs‘ per-screen average reveals the extent of audience disinterest in this title. $3,144 is just the 16th best opening weekend per-screen average for a Hindi film in North America this year. Adding in the returns from Thursday only brings the average up to $3,846. While one might dismiss this as a case of over-saturation, none of the other Hindi movies to release in more than 300 theaters this year fared as poorly. Padmaavat had an opening weekend PSA of $11,860. Sanju averaged $7,650 per screen. Even Race 3 averaged $5,385 per screen in its first weekend.

Will this poor performance affect the release calendar for the rest of the month? Other studios had all but ceded the territory between now and 2.0‘s release on November 29, assuming that Thugs of Hindostan would be a hot ticket for at least the next two weeks. The Sunny Deol-Preity Zinta comedy Bhaiaji Superhit looks even more likely to release here now on November 23, which would make it the only new release to take advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Last-minute release date changes aren’t unusual in Bollywood, so maybe some scrappy distributor can pull things together in a jiff to take advantage of this unexpected lull.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters (per Bollywood Hungama):

  • Badhaai Ho: Week 4; $153,098 from 59 theaters; $2,595 average; $2,961,841 total
  • Andhadhun: Week 6; $28,791 from 14 theaters; $2,057 average; $1,244,833 total
  • Baazaar: Week 3; $3,312 from eight theaters; $414 average; $324,616 total
  • Namaste England: Week 4; $24 from one theater; $107,951 total

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