I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon’s Heera channel with four new additions to the catalog. Three movies starring Salman Khan — Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Jai Ho, and Kick — are now available for streaming, as is Hero, which Khan produced. Bajrangi Bhaijaan is good, but Hero is unoriginal, Jai Ho is lazy, and Kick is unbelievably stupid.
While I felt that there were more good Bollywood movies than bad released in 2014, the year did produce some truly awful Hindi films. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
Some primarily suffered from poor story construction. In Jai Ho, Salman Khan inexplicably goes on a violent rampage when people fail to embrace his “pay it forward” scheme, resulting in Suniel Shetty plowing through traffic in a tank. Another Khan film — Kick — makes even less sense, as Khan transforms from a dopey slacker into Robin Hood overnight, and none of the supposedly intelligent characters in the film realize it’s him. Koyelaanchal‘s disorganized plot is a problem, but not as big a problem as its multiple flashbacks from the perspective of a baby.
I often write about gender issues in my reviews, so it’s no surprise that many of the worst movies of the year portrayed women negatively. The Xpose is essentially a morality lecture for women delivered by writer-actor-composer Himesh Reshammiya. According to Super Nani, a woman’s only real asset is her beauty, even if she’s old enough to be a grandmother.
A few lousy 2014 movies actually fancy themselves as socially progressive, even though they aren’t. Kaanchi inaccurately characterizes the heroine’s personal revenge as representative of a youth uprising against systemic corruption. The hero of Heropanti denounces arranged marriage while simultaneously affirming a father’s right to choose his daughter’s husband. Daawat-e-Ishq — the most disappointing Hindi film of 2014, given the quality of its cast and crew — depicts men as the real victims of dowry tradition.
The delightfully inept Karle Pyaar Karle could have been a perfect “so bad, it’s good” movie, were it not for a racist subplot. The movie’s heroine is threatened with forced marriage to a dark-skinned African man, a character introduced solely to represent the worst fate imaginable for an Indian woman. The hero and heroine use racial slurs, and the heroine’s mother proposes suicide for herself and her daughter as a way to avoid the marriage. It’s an offensive and frustrating end to an otherwise unintentionally hilarious movie.
The absolute worst Hindi movie of 2014 combines the shortcomings of the other films on the list and multiplies them exponentially. That film is the loud and tacky Humshakals. Offensive jokes are aimed at almost every group except straight Indian men, with director Sajid Khan’s preferred target being overweight women. As one can infer from the female characters Khan wrote for the movie, his ideal woman is a brainless sex object.
Unlike Karle Pyaar Karle, there’s nothing funny about Humshakals, intentional or unintentional. It’s a cynical film, pandering to the basest prejudices of the lowest common denominator. Sajid Khan writes the mean-spirited jokes he does because he thinks he can get away with them. It’s time for not only the audience but members of the industry to tell him that we deserve better.
Worst Hindi Movies of 2014
- Humshakals — Buy at Amazon
- Karle Pyaar Karle
- Kick — Buy at Amazon
- Koyelaanchal — Buy at Amazon
- Heropanti — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
- Jai Ho — Buy at Amazon
- Daawat-e-Ishq — Buy at Amazon or iTunes
- Super Nani — Buy/rent at iTunes
- The Xpose — Buy at Amazon
- Kaanchi: The Unbreakable — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
Previous Worst Movies Lists
Salman Khan’s Kick held up well in North America, relieving fears that its business could meet the same fate as Jai Ho and drop dramatically in its second weekend in theaters. According to Bollywood Hungama, Kick earned $417,985 from 146 theaters in the United States and Canada during the weekend of August 1-3, 2014. That total is about forty percent of what Kick earned in its opening weekend. By comparison, in its second weekend, Jai Ho only earned about twenty percent of its first weekend total.
[Update: Box Office Mojo reports slightly higher figures for Kick‘s second weekend: $439,304 from 162 theaters for an average of $2,712 per screen. It lists the movie’s total North American earnings as $2,100,041.]
As with Kick‘s opening weekend, there’s an interesting difference between Kick‘s second weekend performance in the U.S. versus Canada. American theaters outnumbered Canadian theaters nearly seven-to-one, but Canada accounted for more than a quarter of the weekend’s total earnings. Note the difference in average earnings per screen (the combined average for both countries is $2,863):
- Canada: $114,439 from 21 theaters; $5,449 average
- USA: $303,546 from 125 theaters; $2,428 average
Though Canadian Bollywood fans generally have a greater appetite for action films than American fans, the effect is most pronounced when it comes to Salman Khan’s movies. During Jai Ho‘s first weekend in theaters, the per-screen average in Canadian theaters was nearly double that of American theaters: $7,940 versus $3,994. As with Kick, the disparity became even greater in Jai Ho‘s second weekend: $2,082 versus $887.
Here’s how other Hindi movies fared in North America over the weekend:
- Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania: Week 4; $15,671 from 13 theaters; $1,205 average; $876,988 total
- The Lunchbox: Week 23; $1,201 from two theaters; $600 average; $4,028,062 total
- Ek Villain: Week 6; $500 from two theaters; $250 average; $771,683 total
Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama
Salman Khan’s latest — Kick — scored big at the North American box office, and it did so in impressive style. Kick blew past the first weekend earnings of Khan’s other 2014 release — Jai Ho — and posted the second best opening weekend for a Hindi movie in North America so far this year.
Over the weekend of July 25-27, Kick earned $1,023,427 from 163 theaters ($6,279 average) in North America. Check out the difference in per-screen averages when those figures are broken down by country:
- Canada: $194,016 from 22 theaters; $8,819 average
- USA: $829,411 from 141 theaters; $5,882 average
Kick‘s combined opening weekend gross ranks second for the year to date, less than $3,000 behind the opening weekend total of 2 States ($1,026,353). Kick‘s opening weekend per-screen average is third, trailing only The Lunchbox and 2 States.
[Update: Box Office Mojo reports significantly higher returns for Kick than the above figures from Rentrak, supplied by Bollywood Hungama. Mojo reports that Kick earned $1,071,373 from 177 theaters ($6,053 average), putting it comfortably ahead of 2 States for the best opening weekend of the year.]
Jai Ho‘s January opening weekend grossed $817,744 from 183 theaters ($4,469 average). In its second weekend — despite having no new Hindi movies in theaters to compete with — Jai Ho‘s business dropped by nearly 80%.
I suspect Kick will hold up better in its second weekend (which will also lack competition from any new Hindi films), thanks to its favorable summer release date and a slightly higher audience rating at IMDb (6.6 for Kick versus 6.0 for Jai Ho). When combined with its estimated mid-week earnings for the remainder of this week, even a disappointing second weekend would likely push Kick ahead of Queen on the list of highest earning Hindi films in North America in 2014. We’ll have to wait and see if it can best 2 States‘ total of $2,191,066 and move into second place behind The Lunchbox.
Three other Hindi movies remained in theaters in the shadow of Kick.
- Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania: Week 3; $38,575 from 30 theaters; $1,286 average; $839,175 total
- The Lunchbox: Week 22; $6,159 from seven theaters; $880 average; $4,025,021 total
- Ek Villain: Week 5; $262 from two theaters; $131 average; $770,615 total
Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama
Queen‘s box office run continues to amaze. The weekend of March 28-30, 2014, marked Queen‘s fourth weekend in North American theaters, during which it showed in more theaters and earned more money than it did in its first weekend (according to Bollywood Hungama).
To put this in perspective, compare Queen‘s North American box office performance to that of Jai Ho, currently the highest earning Hindi film released in the U.S. and Canada in 2014. Jai Ho opened in 183 theaters on January 24, earning $817,744. Its earnings fell by almost 80% in its second weekend. In its fourth and final weekend, it earned $2,396 from just three theaters.
Queen started out more slowly, earning $161,998 from thirty-nine theaters. Its earnings nearly doubled in its second week and held steady in week three. It expanded into its largest number of theaters in week four (sixty-four), whence it earned $212,550.
The way Queen has added just a few theaters per week mirrors the gradual roll-out of The Lunchbox in North America. The difference is that roll-out of The Lunchbox was planned, whereas Queen‘s growth has been due to audience demand.
With only Main Tera Hero likely to release in North America this upcoming weekend, Queen should retain much of its current theatrical footprint for a fifth weekend. With a total haul of $1,179,491 currently, that footprint should allow Queen to supplant Jai Ho ($1,256,275) as the highest earning Hindi film of 2014, so far.
Now showing in Canada as well as the U.S., The Lunchbox earned $277,853 from sixty-nine theaters ($4,027 average) in its fifth week of release. It’s total earnings stand at $848,990.
Dishkiyaoon made barely a peep in its opening weekend in theaters. It opened in just eleven theaters in the U.S. and Canada and earned $7,341 ($667 average). That’s still better than the first weekend returns of Gang of Ghosts, Ya Rab, and Karle Pyaar Karle, despite opening in fewer theaters than any of those films.
Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters include:
- Total Siyapaa: Week 4; $1,207 from four screens, $125,743 total
- Bewakoofiyaan: Week 3; $477 from two screens; $106,710 total
- Gulaab Gang: Week 4; $426 from one screen; $98,475 total
- Highway: Week 6; $160 from one screen; $529,449 total
- Gang of Ghosts: Week 2; $72 from two screens; $5,978 total
- Shaadi Ke Side Effects: Week 5; $48 from two screens; $947,787 total
Note: Figures courtesy of Bollywood Hungama
The romantic comedy Hasee Toh Phasee — starring Parineeti Chopra and Sidharth Malhotra — opens in Chicago area theaters on February 7, 2014. I love the English translation of the title (according to Wikipedia): “She Smiles, She’s Snared!”.
Hasee Toh Phasee opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.
Jai Ho carries over for a third weekend at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30.
Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include Heart Attack (Telugu, no subtitles) at the Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge and Golf Glen 5, which is also showing Drishyam (Malayalam), Paisa (Telugu), and Pannaiyarum Padminiyum (Tamil).
Following a less-than-stellar opening weekend performance in American theaters, Jai Ho‘s earnings cratered in its second weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, Jai Ho‘s earnings fell nearly eighty percent in its second weekend, earning just $176,214 in the U.S. and Canada.
For comparison’s sake, theaters that carried 11-week-old films like Philomena or The Hunger Games: Catching Fire earned more per screen ($1,702 and $1,144 respectively) than did theaters that gave Jai Ho a second week ($904).
Sadly, the Abhay Deol-Preeti Desai romcom One By Two isn’t opening in the Chicago area on Friday, January 31, 2014. That leaves local Bollywood fans with two options in theaters: Dhoom 3 and Jai Ho.
Jai Ho got off to a rocky start in U.S. theaters last weekend. Despite opening on more screens (195) than any previous Salman Khan film, it earned just $840,506 in the U.S. Its per-screen earnings of $4,310 are the lowest of any Khan film since Veer opened in January, 2010, with per-screen earnings of $3,637.
Jai Ho carries over for a second week at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.
Dhoom 3 gets a seventh week at the South Barrington 30.
Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Pandavulu Pandavulu Thummeda (Telugu) at the Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont and Inga Enna Solluthu (Tamil) at the AMC Loews Streets of Woodfield 20 in Schaumburg. The Golf Glen 5 will carry Chhota Bheem and the Throne of Bali, Drishyam (Malayalam), Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal (Malayalam), Heart Attack (Telugu), and Rummy (Tamil).
Jai Ho is as lazy and lacking in self-awareness as a movie can be. It ignores its own shallow grasp of morality to promote the message of every recent Salman Khan movie: the answer to government corruption is a single, violent man.
Just how shallow is the take on morality in Jai Ho, a remake of a Telugu movie (Stalin) based on a Hollywood movie (Pay It Forward)? The notion of “paying it forward” — you help three people, then they each help three more people, and so on — is developed by a middle schooler in the Hollywood version, and by a man in his late forties in Jai Ho.
Of course it’s good to do nice things for other people. But the characters in Jai Ho talk about it so damned much, it’s as though the filmmakers think they invented the idea. “Generosity and helpfulness can benefit individuals and society? Who knew? Write forty minutes of dialogue to belabor the point!”
The title character, Jai (Salman Khan), who’s apparently a professional doer-of-favors, following his expulsion from the army, tries to popularize the notion of “paying it forward.” Everything is fine until his mom tells him that some people may not wish to participate, and that he shouldn’t be disappointed by that.
Jai’s realization that his idea may not be universally embraced causes him to lose his mind. In a blind rage, he attacks a guy harassing a street urchin. The guy just happens to be connected to a corrupt politician who winds up trying to murder Jai’s family. The situation is resolved by Jai fighting dozens of guys single-handedly and Suniel Shetty plowing through traffic in a tank.
Let’s get this straight: Jai’s responds to learning that there are mean people in the world by going on a violent rampage, endangering his family and friends and any unfortunate motorists who get in the way of Suniel Shetty’s tank. Way to make the world a better place, Jai!
What’s even more depressing is that violence really is Jai’s only recourse to stop the corrupt bureaucrat, played by Danny Denzongpa. The only evidence of systemic political change as a result of Jai’s gory heroics is that another politician — played by Mohnish Bahl — decides to look the other way.
The movie relies on emotional pandering in place of solid storytelling. Producer-director Sohail Khan trots out handicapped kids anytime he wants to bring the audience to tears and soldiers when he wants to stoke the fires of patriotism. Lest the audience fail to grasp the cinematic shorthand, there are musical cues and sound effects to let them know what emotions they are supposed to feel.
As with most of Salman Khan’s recent roles, his character’s only flaw at the beginning of the movie is that he doesn’t yet have a girlfriend. Daisy Shah is shoehorned into the story to fill the love interest role, even though she has nothing to do with the main plot. She’s never imperiled because of her relationship with Jai, she doesn’t partake in Jai’s do-gooder scheme, and she disappears during the climax.
There is exactly one good thing about Jai Ho, and that is Naman Jain as Jai’s young nephew, Kabir. He’s legitimately funny, and he’s by far the best actor in the bunch. Jai Ho should’ve made Kabir the main character, borrowing more from Pay It Forward and less from Stalin. That might’ve been a good movie.
It’s been over a year since we last saw Salman Khan on the big screen, but he returns to Chicago area cinemas on January 24, 2014, with Jai Ho. The premise sounds a lot like Pay It Forward, if Kevin Spacey had to beat the crap out of a bunch of guys.
Jai Ho opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 23 min.
Karle Pyaar Karle departs area theaters following one of the worst opening weekend performances I can remember. According to Bollywood Hungama, the movie earned $2,466 from twenty screens in the U.S., for an average of just $123 per screen. Holy cow, that’s bad. Theaters lost money on this dog.
Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include 1: Nenokkadine (Telugu) at the Cinemark Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, and the Golf Glen 5, which will also carry Drishyam (Malayalam), Oru Indian Pranayakatha (Malayalam), and Uyyala Jampala (Telugu).