Tag Archives: Kabir Singh

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2019

While my Best Bollywood Movies of 2019 list is dominated by action flicks, my Worst Bollywood Movies of 2019 list is mostly made up of comedies that aren’t funny.

The first of those is Khandaani Shafakhana, starring Sonakshi Sinha as a sex clinic operator. It has some nice moments but is undone by a sequence in which a character played by Varun Sharma repeatedly uses homophobic slurs in a failed attempt at humor.

Diljit Dosanjh’s cop spoof Arjun Patiala also has potential until it takes a dark turn — only none of the characters seem to realize it and keep acting as if it’s still a lighthearted romp. Kriti Sanon plays a reporter reluctant to investigate a string of murders she suspects were orchestrated by her police officer boyfriend (Dosanjh). It’s hard to make such a premise funny.

Sanon plays a reporter again in the romantic comedy Luka Chuppi, in which she and a colleague played by Kartik Aaryan clumsily try to hide their live-in relationship. The subject matter gives it a veneer of progressiveness, but it’s cut from the same conservative, chauvinistic cloth as umpteen other Bollywood romcoms.

The biggest disappointment among the unfunny comedies is the road trip heist flick Total Dhamaal. With an ensemble cast that includes Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Boman Irani, Ajay Devgn, and Sanjay Mishra, you’d expect laughs from start to finish. But writer-director Indra Kumar’s disorganized reboot of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is boring, with repetitive, stale gags.

The top spot on this year’s Worst Bollywood Movies list is not a comedy but a very problematic drama. Kabir Singh — a remake of the Telugu film Arjun Reddy — is either remarkably oblivious to its main character’s sociopathic tendencies, or it thinks his actions are okay. The hero assaults and threatens women with violence repeatedly throughout the movie, including an attempt to rape a woman at knife-point in the first ten minutes. You can’t make a hero like that sympathetic, especially when he doesn’t feel remorse for what he’s done.

One of the troubling sentiments I’ve seen online is the belief that the Kabir Singh‘s box office success validates the film’s moral viewpoint. There are plenty of movies throughout history that were hits when they released that contemporary audiences would find abhorrent. Kabir Singh will be one of those movies someday — hopefully sooner rather than later.

Kathy’s Worst Bollywood Movies of 2019

  1. Kabir Singh — Stream on Netflix
  2. Total Dhamaal — Buy at Amazon/stream on Hotstar
  3. Luka Chuppi — Buy at Amazon/stream on Netflix
  4. Arjun Patiala — Stream on Prime
  5. Khandaani Shafakhana — Stream on Prime

Previous Worst Movies Lists

[Disclaimer: my Amazon and iTunes links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Movie Review: Kabir Singh (2019)

0 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack on iTunes

It may not be possible to create a more loathsome protagonist than the title character in Kabir Singh.

Within the first ten minutes of the film, Kabir (Shahid Kapoor) pulls a knife on a woman who refuses to have sex with him and threatens to hit his maid. In fact, he threatens almost every major female character in the film with violence and actually slaps and shoves the woman he professes to love. He beats up several men as well. He’s never sorry, and he never faces any consequences for his violence.

Instead, violence and intimidation are the means by which Kabir exerts his will over the people around him. Why friends, family members, and romantic interests stay in Kabir’s orbit is not explained. They just need to be there because, without them, Kabir would have no one to abuse.

The film’s clunky narrative jumps between the two key periods in Kabir’s life: the “Preeti Era” and the “Post-Preeti Era.” In the former, Preeti (Kiara Advani) is a new student at the medical college where Kabir is training to become a surgeon. She has no personality and rarely speaks, but Kabir decides he must possess her because he would like to have sex with her. They bone, and thus is born an epic love story for all time.

Not really. The relationship is abusive and predicated on Kabir exploiting his seniority at the school. After all, Kabir never met a power dynamic he couldn’t manipulate to his own ends.

Kabir and Preeti have more sex, he’s mean to a bunch of people, and blah blah blah, Preeti’s dad won’t let them marry. Kabir can’t handle the thought that he might not get his way and overdoses on morphine and booze. Ah, if only he’d died and the movie ended there.

When Kabir wakes up a few days later, Preeti is married to someone else. Thus begins the “Post-Preeti era,” characterized by Kabir’s drug, alcohol, and sex addictions, and a surgical career that flourishes despite them.

Writer-director Sandeep Vanga — who also wrote and directed Arjun Reddy, the Telugu film of which Kabir Singh is a direct remake — treats Kabir’s post-Preeti drug addiction and alcoholism as the tipping point when Kabir becomes a lost soul in need of saving. But Kabir was an awful, entitled bully before that. Losing Preeti just made him perpetually drunk and high, it didn’t give him any more dimensions.

That gets to another of Kabir Singh‘s many flaws: it’s mind-numbingly boring. Because the characters are so thinly drawn, they repeat the same conflicts and conversations. Minor characters like Kabir’s grandmother (Kamini Kaushal) and a college dean played by Adil Hussain (who I hope got paid a lot to appear in this mess) seem like they must exist to play a critical role in Kabir’s character growth, until you realize that Kabir not growing is the point of the film.

Kabir is a manifestation of the desires of frustrated young men who believe that the problems in their lives would be solved if they had Shahid Kapoor’s good looks and a high-status job. Yet, despite having those qualities, Kabir behaves as though he doesn’t. He’s petty and thin-skinned, and he feels compelled to lord his elevated status over those beneath him. He’s the antithesis of the Vince Lombardi quote that ends: “act like you’ve been there before.” Kabir seems like a loser who had a wish granted and woke up the next morning as a handsome surgeon, yet with the same personality as before.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Kabir’s dealings with women. Instead of letting his looks and future earnings potential (his only charms) draw women toward him, he relies on coercion to prey on the vulnerable. He threatens the male students at his school to stay away from Preeti and singles her out publicly in front of her female peers. Even when he dates a famous actress (played by Nikita Dutta), she’s lonely and socially isolated — and his patient. Thanks to the protections afforded by his status, he’s comfortable propositioning her for sex in their first meeting outside of his medical office. He has no interesting in women who are of equal social standing as him, perhaps because none exist in the world of Kabir Singh.

Links

Streaming Video News: September 19, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of new additions in recent days. The highest profile newcomer is the Amazon Original Hindi series The Family Man, starring Manoj Bajpayee as a spy struggling to balance his work and family life. Amazon is so confident of the series’ international breakout potential that they had the cast record an English dub of the dialogue as well. It’s also available in 4K Ultra HD in both Hindi and English. Other 2019 releases just added include:

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of Kabir Singh. The 2016 horror film 1920 London is poised to expire on September 24.

Bollywood Box Office: August 9-11, 2019

Jabariya Jodi got off to an okay start in North America. During the weekend of August 9-11, 2019, the romantic comedy earned $79,464 from 53 theaters ($1,499 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. By this point in the year, Hindi films have to earn closer to $200,000 in their opening weekend with a per-theater average of around $2,500 to rank in the top half.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Judgementall Hai Kya: Week 3; $20,599 from 18 theaters; $1,144 average; $524,766 total
  • Super 30: Week 5; $14,224 from 18 theaters; $790 average; $2,315,850 total
  • Kabir Singh: Week 8; $3,600 from two theaters; $1,800 average; $2,614,611 total

Sources: 143 Cinema and Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: August 2-4, 2019

Sonakshi Sinha’s comedy Khandaani Shafakhana had a disastrous opening weekend in North America, earning just $29,631 from 50 theaters ($593 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. This is the latest in a string of disappointing performances by Sinha’s comedies here, starting last winter with Welcome to New York ($111,044 opening; $225,366 total), and followed in the summer by Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi ($66,179 opening; $135,815 total).

Judgementall Hai Kya held up well in its second weekend, earning $106,624 from 52 theaters ($2,050 average) and bringing its total to $456,252. Last weekend’s other new release — Arjun Patiala — fell hard, its business dropping by almost 95%. It earned just $4,091 from 12 theaters ($341 average). Its total stands at $106,804.

In its seventh weekend, Kabir Singh earned $13,275 from eight theaters ($1,659 average), bringing its total to $2,604,106. One interesting note about Kabir Singh‘s strong box office performance is that 40% of its North American total has come from Canada. Even big Hindi releases only open in 20-40 theaters in Canada, compared to 100-300 theaters in the United States, meaning that most Bollywood films derive about 20% of their combined North American total from Canada. 40% — over $1 million in Kabir Singh‘s case — is huge!

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Super 30: Week 4; $82,767 from 75 theaters; $1,104 average; $2,266,658 total
  • Article 15: Week 6; $980 from two theaters; $490 average; $1,058,891 total
  • Photograph: Week $50 from one theater ;$351,408 total

Source: Bollywood Hungama

Opening August 2: Khandaani Shafakhana

Just one new Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on August 2, 2019. Sonakshi Sinha runs a fertility clinic in the comedy Khandaani Shafakhana.

Khandaani Shafakhana opens Friday at the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 16 min.

The South Barrington 24 and MovieMax Cinemas in Niles hold over last weekend’s new releases Arjun Patiala and Judgementall Hai Kya, which also gets a second week at Cantera.

All three of the above theaters give a fourth week to Super 30, as do the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. Kabir Singh gets a seventh week at MovieMax.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Bollywood Box Office: July 26-28, 2019

Two new Hindi releases met very different fates at the North American box office during the weekend of July 26-28, 2019. The Kangana Ranaut-Rajkummar Rao dark comedy Judgementall Hai Kya scored big, earning $248,781 from 59 theaters ($4,217 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. I’m surprised it didn’t open in more theaters, given the popularity of its lead actors.

The weekend’s other new release — Arjun Patiala — appears to have been a victim of theatrical overreach or bad timing (or both). The Diljit Dosanjh-Kriti Sanon romantic comedy earned just $67,407 from 73 theaters ($923 average). Two Punjabi-language releases — Chal Mera Putt and Ardaas Karan — performed really well here over the weekend, siphoning off much of Dosanjh’s core fanbase despite both Punjabi films showing on less than half as many screens as Arjun Patiala.

Super 30 held strong in its third weekend, earning enough to push it past the $2 million mark. The biographical drama earned $189,224 from 128 theaters ($1,478 average), bringing its total to $2,111,832, according to Box Office Mojo.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North America:

  • Kabir Singh: Week 6; $19,378 from 18 theaters; $1,077 average; $2,573,373 total
  • Article 15: Week 5; $7,705 from nine theaters; $856 average; $1,054,918 total
  • Photograph: Week 11; $111 from one theater; $351,358 total

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

Opening July 26: Arjun Patiala and Judgementall Hai Kya

Two new Hindi movies hit Chicago area theaters on July 26, 2019. First up is the romantic comedy Arjun Patiala, starring Diljit Dosanjh and Kriti Sanon.

Arjun Patiala opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera in Warrenville. It has a quick runtime of 1 hr. 47 min.

Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao play antagonists in the weekend’s other new release, Judgementall Hai Kya. The psychological black comedy opens Friday at all three of the above theaters and has a runtime of 2 hrs. 2 min.

Super 30 carries over for a third week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Article 15 and Kabir Singh both hold over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Bollywood Box Office: July 19-21, 2019

Super 30 had a really nice second weekend after a slow opening in North America. From July 19-21, 2019, the biographical drama earned $441,945 from 189 theaters ($2,338 average), according to Box Office Mojo. It held onto 50% of its opening weekend business — the best carryover rate for the year so far among Hindi films that debuted in at least 150 theaters. Its 10-day total stands at $1,731,646.

Kabir Singh did a brisk business in its fifth weekend of release, earning $58,482 from 25 theaters ($2,339 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. That brings its total to $2,509,109.

Article 15 closed out its fourth weekend with $23,700 from 17 theaters ($1,394 average), pushing the thriller’s total to seven digits: $1,038,992.

Here’s a fun fact: of the 28 Hindi films to release in North America in 2019, half have earned more than $1 million. I looked back through the last five years of box office data, and only two years — 2016 and 2018 — had more than 14 $1 million-earners total (15 and 18 movies, respectively). It’s super unlikely that the 50% ratio will hold through the end of the year, but nevertheless, a lot of Hindi films are going to make a lot of money here in 2019.

Meanwhile in Canada, Photograph earned $134 from one theater. After ten weeks in North America, it’s earned $351,247.

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

In Theaters: July 19, 2019

No new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area the weekend beginning July 19, 2019. After a lackluster opening weekend, Super 30 carries over for a second week at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Article 15 gets a fourth week at MovieMax, South Barrington, and Cantera.

Kabir Singh hangs on for a fifth week at MovieMax, South Barrington, and the AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles unless indicated):