The weekend of April 25-27, 2014, was terrible for new Hindi films in the United States and Canada but great for 2 States.
Of the three new films that released in India on April 25 — Revolver Rani, Samrat & Co., and Kaanchi — only Kaanchi made the trip overseas. Even then, it only opened in the U.S., not Canada. From twenty-eight American theaters, it earned just $14,694. Its first weekend per-screen average of $525 was among the worst of the year so far.
On the other hand, 2 States performed very well in its second weekend in North American theaters. It earned $418,064 from 133 theaters (up from 131 last week) for a per-screen average of $3,143. That brings its total earnings to $1,706,309, moving it ahead of Queen into second place on the list of highest grossing Hindi films in North America in 2014, behind The Lunchbox.
Now in its ninth week of release, The Lunchbox earned $303,292 from 176 theaters ($1,723 average per screen). Total earnings stand at $2,591,410.
Other Hindi films showing in a handful of theaters included:
Queen: Week 8; $4,339 from three screens; $1,416,230 total
Kaanchi: The Unbreakable fancies itself an inspiring story of a simple country gal taking on the powers of corruption. In reality, Kaanchi is a tale of personal revenge, and a really boring one at that.
The story begins with an uninformative framing device that has no narrative payoff until over an hour into the film. A Mumbai police officer, Bagula (Chandan Roy Sanyal), sits handcuffed in an interrogation room, trying to explain his role in the tumultuous events sparked by a woman who’s gone missing. Bagula says that the woman is his childhood friend, Kaanchi (Mishti).
Kaanchi (Mishti) is the female version of the big-man-on-campus Bollywood hero whom everyone seems to love even though he’s an immature, annoying asshole. Kaanchi is every bit the asshole — temperamental, jealous, and vain — yet she’s the favorite daughter of her mountain village, Kochampa.
While Kaanchi trades verbal barbs with her boyfriend, Binda (Kartik Tiwari), members of the wealthy Kakda family arrive in town, intending to force out the villagers in order to build a luxury resort. This troubles Binda, but Kaanchi could give two shits. She’s too busy worrying about other girls flirting with Binda.
Kaanchi befriends Sushant — heir to the Kakda fortune — and he falls in love with her. This sets off a chain of events that results in Kaanchi fleeing the village in a rage, vowing revenge. Thus ends the first hour of a two-and-a-half-hour-long movie.
Kaanchi’s reunion with Bagula in a Mumbai dance bar is unintentionally hilarious. Scantily clad ladies sing, “You’re sexy. You’re like a taxi,” to which Bagula responds, “I’m a carefree big boy.”
Only Rishi Kapoor — who plays one of the villainous Kakda brothers — gets a better character introduction: strumming a guitar on a round bed while a pair of busty women in lingerie chomp on Ritter Sport chocolate bars.
There are nine or ten pointless musical numbers that serve only to waste at least forty minutes of runtime in an already overly-long film.
Among the dance numbers, the highlight is “Thumka,” but for the wrong reasons. It features the least flattering outfits I’ve ever seen on white backup dancers. Each dancer wears a monokini, black elbow gloves, gladiator sandals, a bobbed wig, and black, control-top pantyhose. A few of the dancers look like they’re wearing athletic cups inside their hose. Check out these sartorial abominations:
The acting throughout is pretty abysmal. Kapoor’s performance is hammy and out-of-place. Mithun Chakraborthy — who plays the other Kakda brother — has cotton balls stuffed in his cheeks for no apparent reason.
Misthi doesn’t do herself many favors in her debut performance. She moves as though she’s wearing a back brace, and her high-pitched shrieking sounds insane, rather than powerful.
Throughout the incredibly dull second half of the film, side characters refer to Kaanchi as a representative of young India, fed up with politics as usual and tired of a corrupt system. However, Kaanchi doesn’t see herself that way. She never mentions the threat the Kakda family poses to her village, nor does she mention the rigged system that benefits such wealthy families.
Had Kaanchi decided to fight for Kochampa or on behalf of the underclass, that would’ve constituted character development. But Kaanchi doesn’t develop at all throughout the film. She begins and remains a temperamental young woman who’s used to getting her way. After the interval, she just redirects her temper.
This isn’t a political or inspirational movie, no matter how badly writer-director-producer Subhash Ghai would like to frame it as such. Kaanchi is a messy, dull revenge flick, and that’s all.
I’m surprised that Kangana Ranaut’s Revolver Rani isn’t opening here. Given the phenomenal recent success of Queen — which also starred Ranaut — I was sure the makers of Revolver Rani would try to capitalize on her current “It Girl” status.
Just released today is the trailer for the coming-of-age film Purani Jeans, arriving in theaters on May 1.
Also new today is the trailer for the Hindi version of Rio 2, featuring the voices of Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha. Rio 2 opens in India on April 11, the same day the English version — featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway — opens in the U.S.
Rio 2 faces stiff competition on April 11, the day that also sees the release of Kochadaiiyaan, an animated adventure featuring the voices and likenesses of Superstar Rajinikanth and Deepika Padukone. Originally recorded in Tamil, dubbed versions in Telugu and Hindi will also be released (though who knows which version we’ll get here in the States).
There are a number of films set to release on April 25. The most likely candidate to show up in American theaters is Revolver Rani, starring Kangana Ranaut, whose stock has risen considerably since Queen became a sleeper hit.
April 25 also sees the release of Samrat & Co, a mystery based on the British TV series Sherlock. The nods the TV series are obvious in the trailer, though the “Watson” to Erik Estrada look-alike Rajeev Khandelwal’s “Sherlock” character, Samrat, is noticeably absent.