Tag Archives: Indian

Movie Review: Tumhari Sulu (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

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Actors Vidya Balan and Manav Kaul carry Tumhari Sulu, a task made more difficult by the story’s lack of perspective. It’s hard to tell how first-time feature filmmaker Suresh Triveni expects the audience to feel about his characters and their journey.

Balan plays Sulu, a bored housewife who entertains herself by entering radio contests. Her husband, Ashok (Kaul), ekes out a meager paycheck managing a dysfunctional tailoring shop. Their eleven-year-old son Pranav (Abhishek Sharma) earns money on the side by selling dirty DVDs and magazines to his classmates.

Sulu’s more successful sisters delight in their sibling’s lower-middle-class status, chiding Sulu for not having a job while reminding her that her lack of a degree precludes her from getting a reputable gig, anyway.

When Sulu goes to the radio station to collect her latest prize — a pressure cooker — she notices an ad for a late-night radio show host. She finagles a meeting with the station manager, Maria (Neha Dhupia), who gives Sulu a shot, if only for the chance to laugh at the frumpy, naive housewife. However, Sulu’s sultry delivery is just what Maria is looking for, and a new radio star is born.

Triveni’s story — which he wrote and directed — takes a long time to get to this point without advancing the characters’ development. The plot meanders, never lingering long enough to develop any of the potential themes — topics like Sulu’s self-worth, women’s financial independence, or the challenges of a two-income household — beyond a surface level examination.

Even if one assumes that Triveni is leaving it to the audience to draw their own conclusions, he doesn’t give them enough information to do so, chiefly because the characters don’t have meaningful conversations. Sulu doesn’t take her husband seriously, and she has no friends to confide in. Without substantive dialogues — or even internal monologues — it’s hard to infer what is important to the characters, and there’s only so much meaning we can derive from their actions alone.

Triveni also takes for granted the notion that a family’s ability to function is ultimately a woman’s responsibility. When complications arise concurrent with Sulu’s new job, it’s implied that, even if the problem’s aren’t specifically Sulu’s fault, they are her responsibility to fix. Nevermind that Ashok’s work situation was hardly ideal or that Pranav was already a junior pornographer before Sulu started her radio gig.

As is the case with every movie starting Vidya Balan, she is Tumhari Sulu‘s greatest asset, always fun and engaging. Yet, Kaul’s performance enables Balan to be her best. During Sulu’s and Ashok’s happier moments, the pair are adorable together — an unexpected delight, given that Kaul usually plays villains. Dhupia is a great choice to play a hip radio station manager, but her character is too easygoing to be convincing, given the competitive nature of that industry.

Songs are weirdly integrated into Tumhari Sulu, and the inclusion of random parkour stunts into one of them almost hints at an insecurity about whether the film itself is exciting and cool enough to grab the audience’s attention. Perhaps a co-writer for Triveni would have mitigated some of the burden on Balan’s and Kaul’s shoulders.

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Bollywood Box Office: November 17-19, 2017

Vidya Balan’s Tumhari Sulu had a nice opening weekend in North America. From November 17-19, 2017, the comedy-drama earned $176,146 from 59 theaters ($2,986 average; adjusted average of $3,523 from 50 theaters*).

It will be fascinating to see if the postponement of the release of Padmavati affects Tumhari Sulu and the handful of other Hindi films in North American theaters. Kapil Sharma’s November 24 release Firangi was the only movie willing to open anywhere near Padmavati‘s planned December 1 debut, and the next film scheduled after that is Fukrey Returns on December 15. Both Firangi and Fukrey Returns will likely open in fewer than 100 theaters here, so what are cinemas going to do with the space freed up by Padmavati‘s absence? Will it mean longer theatrical runs for Bollywood movies that are currently performing well, like Tumhari Sulu and Ittefaq, or will cinemas just allot the extra space to Hollywood fare? We’ll see.

Speaking of Ittefaq, the murder mystery had another good weekend, earning $48,986 from 35 theaters ($1,400 average). Its total after three weekends of release is $673,662, ranking it in 17th place for the year so far among Hindi films in North America.

Secret Superstar keeps chugging along as well, earning $34,242 from 28 theaters ($1,223 average). Its total stands at $2,115,505. Qarib Qarib Singlle was close behind with $34,065 from 31 theaters ($1,099 average), bringing its total after two weekends to $212,901. Finally, there’s Golmaal Again, which finished its fifth weekend with $16,725 from 17 theaters ($984 average) for total North American earnings of $2,336,042.

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice 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

Opening November 17: Tumhari Sulu

Vidya Balan plays a housewife-turned-radio-host in the comedy Tumhari Sulu, hitting Chicago area theaters November 17, 2017.

Tumhari Sulu opens Friday at the AMC Showplace Niles 12 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.

Ittefaq carries over for a third week at the Cantera 17, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, and South Barrington 24, which also holds over Qarib Qarib Singlle. Secret Superstar gets a fifth week at the South Barrington 24, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and MovieMax, which gives a fifth week to Golmaal Again as well.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: November 10-12, 2017

Qarib Qarib Singlle had a good opening weekend for a movie in somewhat limited release, but it wasn’t able to fend off a strong second weekend by Ittefaq. From November 10-12, 2017, Qarib Qarib Singlle earned $126,268 from 61 North American theaters ($2,070 average; adjusted average of $2,428 from 52 theaters*). Ittefaq bested that total with $152,956 from 66 theaters ($2,318 average; adjusted average of $3,122 from 49 theaters), bringing its total earnings after ten days to $563,374. Ittefaq‘s Weekend-1-to-Weekend-2 retention rate of 53% is fifth best for the year.

Secret Superstar finished third among Hindi films in North America for the weekend, earning $105,179 from 73 theaters ($1,441 average), enough to nudge its overall total across the $2 million mark to $2,051,162. Golmaal Again was next, with $66,612 from 58 theaters ($1,148 average). Golmaal Again has a comfortable lock on third place for the year so far — trailed by Secret Superstar in fourth — with total earnings of $2,292,508.

One theater in the United States carried Chefnow available on Heera! — earning $207 and bringing the movie’s North American total to $94,374.

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice 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

Movie Review: Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at Amazon or iTunes

First Vicky Donor, and now Shubh Mangal Saavdhan. Ayushmann Khurrana is the go-to actor for reproduction-themed romantic comedies.

Khurrana plays a shy ad-man named Mudit who has his eye on Sugandha (Bhumi Pednekar). His initial attempt to talk to her is interrupted when a performing bear tries humping Mudit’s leg, a comical introduction to the movie’s theme of frustrated sexual congress.

The couple winds up in a kind of hybrid love-marriage/arranged-marriage scenario in which their mutual attraction requires the approval of both families. Sugandha is troubled by her family’s desire to rush her to the altar: “Mummy, Mudit and I just met a few days ago.” “What a time you’re living in,” Mummy (Seema Bhargava Pahwa) replies. “At least you two got to meet.”

The addition of these interested parties into the relationship takes its toll on the couple before their romance can really begin. When Sugandha’s family leaves town, the lovebirds seize the opportunity to get frisky. Yet the pressure for things to go well — under the watchful gaze of portraits of Sugandha’s departed grandparents, no less — leave Mudit unable to perform.

Rather than work the problem out between themselves, Mudit insists that he solve his issue his way, enlisting his two buddies for help and freezing out Sugandha. This leaves her blaming herself for the issue, with her equally inexperienced friend Ginni (Anshul Chauhan) her only support.

The real source of trouble for the couple is their unwillingness to talk to each other, which is an unusual problem to have in a movie as dialogue-heavy as Shubh Mangal Saavdhan. Many words are said with little forward plot movement and not a lot of visual dynamism.

That said, Sugandha’s mom gets plenty of funny lines, especially during a sex-ed lecture to her adult daughter themed around Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. “What happens if Ali Baba can’t get into the cave?” Sugandha wonders aloud. Soon enough everyone in both families knows that Mudit can’t get an erection.

Although geared at an audience old enough to understand the ins and outs of human reproduction, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan is sweet and not overly graphic. Khurrana is adorable, and Pednekar beautifully portrays Sugandha’s self-doubt and frustration throughout the couple’s ordeal.  The film just needed less talking and more action (and get rid of Jimmy Shergill’s awkward cameo, please).

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Opening November 10: Qarib Qarib Singlle

One new Hindi film opens in the Chicago area on November 10, 2017, and no, I didn’t make a typo in the title. Irrfan Khan and Parvathy explore their past loves in Qarib Qarib Singlle (“Almost Single“).

Qarib Qarib Singlle opens Friday at the AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 5 min.

Secret Superstar gets a fourth week at all of the above theaters, plus the AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Ittefaq and Golmaal Again carry over at the South Barrington 24 and Cantera 17.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: November 3-5, 2017

Ittefaq faced stiff competition from Secret Superstar and Golmaal Again but still came out on top in North America during the weekend of November 3-5, 2017. According to Bollywood Hungama, the murder mystery earned $286,401 from 84 theaters ($3,410 average). As usual, that theater number counts Canadian theaters twice, putting the actual theater count at 67, thus making the average $4,275 (thanks to Gitesh Pandya from Box Office Guru for confirming the theater count). Box Office Mojo reports a slightly higher total of $298,032. It’s the 17th best opening weekend performance of the year, even though Ittefaq only ranks 26th in terms of opening weekend theater counts (using Bollywood Hungama’s figures).

Secret Superstar finished in second place among Hindi films in North America over the weekend, earning $214,141 from 112 theaters ($1,912 average). That’s the second-best third-weekend total for the year, behind only Baahubali 2. Secret Superstar‘s total earnings of $1,870,880 rank it in seventh place for the year, but by the time of this post’s publication, Secret Superstar will have already pushed past Toilet: Ek Prem Katha into sixth place. It’d be fun to see this earn enough to become the sixth Hindi/multi-lingual Indian film of 2017 to earn more than $2 million in North America.

Speaking of $2 million movies, Golmaal Again just became one. Weekend earnings of $178,191 from 130 theaters ($1,371 average) helped Golmaal Again lock up third place for the year with a total of $2,162,962.

The only other Hindi film showing in the United States over the weekend was Ribbon, which debuted with the worst opening-weekend average of the year so far, worse even than Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai‘s $156 per-theater average. According to Sumit Chadha, Ribbon earned $1,585 from 12 theaters for an average of $132 per theater. Yikes. Just…yikes. Update: Ribbon‘s total was revised upward to $1,639, raising its average to $137.

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Gitesh Pandya, Sumit Chadha, and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama