Tag Archives: Indian

Opening October 19: Badhaai Ho and Namaste England

Two new Hindi movies release in Chicago area theaters on October 19, 2018. First up is Badhaai Ho, a family comedy about an unexpected pregnancy starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra.

Badhaai Ho opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs 3 min.

Also new this weekend is the Arjun Kapoor-Parineeti Chopra romantic comedy Namaste England, a sequel to 2007’s Namastey London (which starred Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif).

Namaste England opens on Friday in all three of the above theaters. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs 21 min.

All three theaters carry over Andhadhun for a third weekend. (Go see it, BTW.) The South Barrington 24 also holds onto Sui Dhaaga: Made in India, as does the AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. Helicopter Eela is out of local theaters after one week.

Other Indian movies showing in Chicago area theaters this weekend:

Advertisements

Movie Review: Andhadhun (2018)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Neo-noir filmmaker Sriram Raghavan made his best movie yet: the black comedy Andhadhun (“Blindly“).

Ayushmann Khurrana stars as Akash, a talented blind musician living in Pune. He gets a gig as the piano player at trendy restaurant after the owner’s beautiful daughter, Sophie (Radhika Apte), runs into him with her scooter. The job puts Akash in touch with some high rollers, including former film star Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan). Pramod hires Akash to serenade him and his young wife Simi (Tabu) on their anniversary, and things don’t go as planned.

Raghavan’s script — co-written with Yogesh Chandekar, Hemanth Rao, and frequent collaborators Arijit Biswas and Pooja Ladha Surti (who also edited Andhadhun) — rewards fans of crime thrillers with familiar genre nods like femmes fatales and characters who aren’t what they seem. Yet the story veers in unexpected ways, forcing the audience into a giddy series of emotional pivots, from shock to uneasy chuckles to horror to hysterical laughter, all in a matter of seconds. It’s astonishing how well Andhadhun pulls this off.

Khurrana’s filmography is full of nice-guy roles, and the sympathy he inspires serves Akash well early on, before we discover that the pianist has his own secrets. His more complicated character contrasts with that of Sophie, who has the movie’s “sunshine role”, according to Ladha Sutri. A love scene between Akash and Sophie is wonderfully steamy despite its brevity.

Then there’s Tabu. She’s glorious in this, so much fun to watch as the ambitious trophy wife (who is shown at one point reading a book titled Anita: A Trophy Wife). She’s charming and chilling, and also hilarious as the movie’s main source of dark humor.

Raghavan and his co-writers ensure that every supporting character has their own clear motivations, which not only elevates the overall quality of the story, but makes it that much easier to get great performances from the whole cast. Ashwini Kalsekar is a laugh riot as the enthusiastic-but-out-of-the-loop wife of a police officer, played by Manav Vij.

Sound design plays a huge role in Andhadhun, as it has in Raghavan’s previous movies. Here, Raghavan expertly deploys tunes to shock the audience or punctuate a joke. Amit Trivedi’s terrific original songs are interspersed with Bollywood hits from the 1970s (ostensibly from the soundtracks of Pramod Sinha’s films).

Khurrana learned to play the piano well enough that cinematographer K. U. Mohanan could shoot Akash playing in full frame, instead of filming him from the chest up and inserting shots of a real pianist’s hands doing the playing. It’s an example of the cast & crew’s dedication that helps make Andhadhun so darned fun to watch.

Links

Bollywood Box Office: October 12-14, 2018

Andhadhun just did something incredible. In its second weekend of release, it earned more money than it did in its opening weekend! And on five fewer screens, no less! From October 12-14, 2018, Andhadhun earned $267,719 from 49 theaters in North America ($5,464 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. That’s almost $16,000 more than last weekend.

In the last decade, I found two other Hindi movies that also out-earned their opening weekend in their second weekend in North America, both in 2014 and both with mitigating factors. The Lunchbox had a slow theatrical rollout, starting out in three theaters and finally reaching its peak theater count of 176 in its ninth week of release. Queen — which employed a more traditional release strategy, like Andhadhun — also earned more in its second weekend, but it added eleven theaters to do so. The only other movies to come close — Kahaani and Pink, which held on to 97% and 99% of their opening weekend business in their second weekends, respectively — also added theaters after strong first weekends. For Andhadun to out-earn its opening weekend while actually losing theaters is a really big deal. Its total stands at $702,335.

The weekend’s lone new release, Helicopter Eela, failed to take off, bringing in $47,299 from 70 theaters in the United States and Canada. That’s a per-screen average of just $676.

Bollywood Hungama didn’t post data from the five Canadian theaters showing Sui Dhaaga: Made in India, but the film earned $34,067 from 40 US theaters ($852 average) in its third weekend of release. That means its total is somewhere north of the $1,101,594 we can officially account for.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North America:

  • Loveyatri: Week 2; $8,234 from 15 theaters; $549 average; $116,388 total
  • Stree: Week 7; $278 from two theaters; $139 average; $843,430 total

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Opening October 12: Helicopter Eela

One new Hindi film opens in Chicago area theaters on October 12, 2018 (and it’s not Tumbbad, unfortunately). Kajol stars in Helicopter Eela, based on the Gujarati play Beta, Kaagdo.

Helicopter Eela opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of

Andhadhun carries over for a second week at all three of the above theaters. MovieMax and the South Barrington 24 also hold onto Loveyatri and Sui Dhaaga: Made in India, which gets a third weekend at and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge as well.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Movie Review: Pataakha (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack on iTunes

Director Vishal Bhardwaj is a master world-builder, designing rich spaces for his characters to inhabit and filling them with evocative music of his own creation. Pataakha (“Firecracker“) is the latest example of Bhardwaj’s formidable skill.

Based on the short story Do Behnein (“Two Sisters“) by Charan Singh Pathik, Pataakha‘s plot is simple. Badki (Radhika Madan) and her younger sister Chhutki (Sanya Malhotra) are constantly at war, each blaming the other for her sorry lot in life. But when they set out to achieve their dreams independently, they discover they need each other more than they thought.

The tale feels like a familiar parable, something one might expect to find in a storybook for children, were it not for all the swearing and fighting. Badki and Chhutki are their small Rajasthani town’s source of entertainment, their curse-filled brawls drawing enthusiastic crowds. Every fight ends with the girls’ father, Bechara Bapu (Vijay Raaz), dragging his daughters home — but not before getting battered in the melee himself.

Adding to Pataakha‘s folkloric feeling is the presence of a trickster character, an itinerant jack-of-all trades named Dipper (Sunil Grover), whose joy in life is instigating fights between the sisters. He snitches on them to each other, and he invents conflict when things are too peaceful. When Badki and Chhutki get boyfriends — Jagan (Namit Das) and Vishnu (Abhishek Duhan), respectively — it gives Dipper more fuel to stoke the fires of war.

Bhardwaj is clearly fond of both the character of Dipper and the actor who plays him. This may be more perception than reality, but it’s almost like Grover’s face is in sharper focus than the other actors’ — and it certainly seems like he gets more closeups. Whether that’s true or not, my attention always gravitated toward Dipper, just to see what he was going to do or how he would react, no matter what other chaos was happening on screen.

For so much attention to be given to a secondary character — as delightful as he is — hints at Pataakha‘s biggest problem: there isn’t enough material to warrant a full-length feature film. Trimming the runtime by thirty minutes would’ve been a start, but Pataakha‘s story would feel most at home as part of a collection of short stories.

It’s by the strength of Bhardwaj’s world-building and the performances he gets from his actors that Pataakha is as enjoyable as it is. Raaz is charming as the girls’ flawed father, who lectures them on the dangers of smoking by showing them the warnings on a half-empty packet of cigarettes he pulls from his own pocket. Madan and Malhotra give it their all in what must have been a fun but exhausting shoot, spending most of their screentime fighting, screaming, and crying as they do. Das and Duhan are solid in their supporting roles.

The movie’s showstopping item number, “Hello Hello,” is another highlight. Written by Bhardwaj and performed by his wife, Rekha, the sexy song is brought to life by the incomparable Malaika Arora. Unlike many lesser item numbers, cinematographer Ranjan Palit keeps his camera a respectful distance from Arora, without zooming in on particular body parts. This is not just a matter of decency but an acknowledgement that, when Arora dances, you need to see her from head to toe.

Links

Bollywood Box Office: October 5-7, 2018

The weekend’s two new Hindi releases met very different fates at the North American box office, despite opening on approximately the same number of screens. From October 5-7, 2018, the romance Loveyatri earned $73,656 from 50 theaters ($1,473 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. During the same weekend, the thriller Andhadhun earned $251,942 from 54 theaters ($4,666 average). 143 Cinema reports even higher earnings for Andhadhun of $278,464, making for a per-screen average of $5,157. In terms of opening weekend per-screen average, Andhadhun ranks in 6th place for the year, with Loveyatri in 32nd place out of 45 Bollywood films released in North America.

Sui Dhaaga: Made in India held up well in its second weekend of release, retaining 37% of its opening weekend business. It earned $217,816 from 132 theaters ($1,650 average), bringing its North American total to $999,148. Pataakha‘s woes compounded as it lost 98% of its opening weekend business, with a second weekend total of $713 ($143 average). That’s the year’s worst holdover percentage among the 42 Bollywood movies that scored a second weekend here.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Stree: Week 6; $10,717 from seven theaters; $1,531 average; $839,668 total
  • Batti Gul Meter Chalu: Week 3; $1,600 from three theaters; $533 average; $243,216 total
  • Manmarziyaan: Week 4; $638 from one theater; $563,015 total

Sources: 143 Cinema and Bollywood Hungama

Opening October 5: Andhadhun and Loveyatri

Two new Bollywood movies release in Chicago area theaters on October 5, 2018. First up is Andhadhun, a thriller with a dynamite cast that includes Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte, and Tabu.

Andhadhun opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

The weekend’s other new release is Loveyatri, which was called Loveratri until a couple of weeks ago. It marks the film debuts of Warina Husssain and Salman Khan’s brother-in-law.

Loveyatri opens Friday at all three of the above theaters. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

After a good opening weekend, Sui Dhaaga: Made in India carries over for a second week at all three of the above theaters, plus the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

The South Barrington 24 holds onto Stree and Batti Gul Meter Chalu, while MovieMax allots Pataakha two showings over the weekend.

On Thursday, October 11, director Vishal Bhardwaj will be in Chicago for a screening and panel discussion of his brilliant Hamlet adaptation Haider as part of the Chicago International Film Festival. The screening starts at 4:30 p.m., and tickets are just $8.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: September 28-30, 2018

Sui Dhaaga: Made in India had the eighth-best opening weekend for a Hindi film in North America this year. From September 28-30, 2018, the drama earned $582,006 from 193 theaters ($3,016 average), according to Box Office Mojo. Given Sui Dhaaga‘s high theater count, one might’ve predicted an even higher total, but this was an especially competitive weekend for Indian films in North America, with new Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu titles posting big numbers as well.

The weekend’s other new Hindi release — Pataakha — buckled under the pressure, earning $36,483 from 54 theaters ($676 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. Writer-director Vishal Bhardwaj’s previous North American box office low was 7 Khoon Maaf, which earned $164,153 from 65 theaters ($2,525 average) in its opening weekend in 2011. Perhaps the fact that Pataakha opened on fewer screens than 7 Khoon Maaf did seven years ago indicates tempered expectations for the new release on the part of the distributors.

As has been the case for more than a month, the most interesting story from the weekend is still Stree. In its fifth weekend of release, it earned $26,113 from 15 theaters ($1,741) — just $540 less than Batti Gul Meter Chalu did in its second weekend ($26,653 from 40 theaters; $666 average)! Stree beat Manmarziyaan, which took in $18,938 from 19 theaters ($997 average) in its third weekend of release. Total earnings for all three films are as follows: Stree = $819,457; Manmarziyaan = $556,312; Batti Gul Meter Chalu = $235,526.

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Opening September 28: Sui Dhaaga and Pataakha

Two intriguing new Hindi movies open in Chicago area theaters on September 28, 2018. The Yash Raj Films comedy-drama Sui Dhaaga: Made in India stars Anushka Sharma and Varun Dhawan and is directed by Dum Laga Ke Haisha‘s Sharat Katariya.

Sui Dhaaga opens Friday 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 South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Also new on Friday is Haider director Vishal Bhardwaj’s Pataakha (“Firecracker“), starring Dangal‘s Sanya Malhotra and debutant Radhika Madan as a pair of feuding sisters.

Pataakha opens Friday at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 14 min.

Batti Gul Meter Chalu gets a second week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17. The South Barrington 24 and Cantera 17 both hold onto Manmarziyaan, while Stree gets a fifth week at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Movie Review: Manmarziyaan (2018)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Emerging adulthood is a particularly annoying stage of human development. Teenage immaturity is no longer a viable excuse for bad behavior, but many emerging adults are still self-centered enough not to fully appreciate the impact of their actions and choices on those around them or even on their own futures. It was a stage I was glad to grow out of and glad for my friends to grow out of.

It’s a tricky balance to write a drama about emerging adults that feels authentic but isn’t as irritating as real life. Maybe director Anurag Kashyap and writer Kanika Dhillon get things too right in Manmarziyaan (“The Heart’s Wish“, international title “Husband Material“). Two-and-a-half hours of watching characters repeat the same mistakes because they lack the self-knowledge not to is tiresome, even with a tremendous cast in the leading roles.

Headstrong hockey player Rumi’s (Taapsee Pannu) romantic relationship with wannabe DJ Vicky (Vicky Kaushal) is the neighborhood’s worst-kept secret. Sick of the local gossip, Rumi’s family tells her to marry Vicky, or they’ll find a groom for her.

For Rumi, the solution is easy. An engagement will pacify her family indefinitely, and she and Vicky have professed their love to each other anyway. But Vicky is happy the way things are, with all the sex he wants and none of the responsibility that comes with a publicly acknowledged relationship.

As immature as Vicky is, Rumi isn’t much better. She spends far too long ignoring the reality Vicky presents to her and wishing for him to be someone he’s not. She accepts a marriage proposal secured by her family as a means of punishing Vicky, not really considering that the groom-to-be, London banker Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan), thinks he’s getting a wife, not some other guy’s spiteful girlfriend.

The first half of Manmarziyaan is so dense with material that the interval break comes as something of a surprise, resetting the story right when it seems to be nearing a conclusion. The film shifts focus from how Vicky’s immaturity ruins his relationship with Rumi to how Rumi’s immaturity ruins her relationship with Robbie. It’s too much of the same thing.

The bigger question is why Robbie thinks Rumi is worth all the trouble, since he really doesn’t know much about her. She gives him the silent treatment when he asks her questions — that is when she’s not sneaking off by herself. Why would someone as ready for marriage as Robbie is put up with her petulance for as long as he does?

Robbie claims that he wants an unconventional bride, and Rumi’s vivacity intrigues him more than other, more demure candidates suggested by the matchmaker. But when Rumi and Robbie are together, she behaves much like a conventional housewife, cooking and waiting up late for him. There’s no discussion of how her other interests — playing hockey and working at her family’s sporting goods store — fit in with married life, or how she’d spend her days if it was just her and Vicky in London, with no family or friends around. The movie makes it seem as though the only obstacle between Rumi and wedded bliss with Robbie is Vicky, but maybe the version of married life Robbie offers her is part of the problem.

It’s not the cast’s fault that Manmarziyaan doesn’t quite work. Pannu’s spiritedness is balanced by Bachchan’s steadfastness. Kaushal goes full-tilt with Vicky, especially during Amit Trivedi’s great song “DhayaanChand” (one of several songs in the film to feature the twin hip-hop dancers Poonam & Priyanka, who steal the whole movie). The soundtrack overall is quite good.

Watching the characters in Manmarziyaan repeat the same mistakes over and over brought back memories of a time when my friends and I made ourselves unhappier than we should have been by trying to force relationships to work that never could. It was a relief to grow out of that phase. I wish the characters in the film had done so sooner.

Links