Tag Archives: Kahaani

Streaming Video News: May 1, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a ton of new additions to the catalog. More than thirty titles were added today, some for the first time (like Tanu Weds Manu) and some after a prolonged absence (like Kahaani). In addition to the Bengali film Abby Sen, the TV show Ramayan, and the documentaries Fire in the Blood, Mostly Sunny, and Saeed Mirza: The Leftist Sufi, the following Hindi movies are now available for streaming:

For everything else new on Netflix (Bollywood or not), check Instant Watcher.

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Bollywood Box Office: February 19-21

Neerja debuted with superb numbers in North America. During the weekend of February 19-21, 2016, the biopic earned $619,185 from 88 theaters in the United States and Canada for a terrific per-screen average of $7,036. The first quarter of the year is prime time for female-led dramas, with Neerja following in the footsteps of past successes like: NH10, which opened in March, 2015, with $143,209 from 46 theaters ($3,113 average); Queen — March, 2014, opened with $161,998 from 39 theaters ($4,154 average); and Kahaani — March, 2012, opened with $263,011 from 45 theaters ($5,845 average). Credit to the team behind Neerja for recognizing that there is an appetite for these kinds of films, and that the money and effort spent on promoting them can yield big results from a growing number of theaters.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the weekend’s other new release, Loveshhuda, which is a textbook case for how not to release a movie internationally. Loveshhuda released with absolutely no fanfare in eight theaters in the US and Canada and earned $1,399. That’s an average of $175 per screen (thanks to generous rounding up on my part). There are several lessons to reiterate here. 1) Don’t release a movie starring a couple of nugus — I could stop there — on the same weekend as a buzz-heavy release with an established star. 2) Let people know in advance that you are planning to release the movie, don’t just drop into theaters with no warning. 3) If you don’t think the movie can carry at least 30 theaters in the US and Canada, don’t bother.

Fitoor‘s business fell 86% in its second weekend, taking in $45,157 from 60 theaters ($753 average). Its total stands at $503,316.

In its third weekend, Ghayal Once Again added another $3,761 from five theaters ($752 average) to bring its total to $292,340. The fascinating thing about that total is that nearly half of it — $136,795 — comes from Canada, despite the fact that it never played on more than 13 theaters there. It opened in 67 theaters in the US. Never let anyone question Canada’s devotion to Sunny Deol.

Other Hindi movies still in theaters:

  • Airlift: Week 5; $19,569 from 12 theaters; $1,631 average; $1,843,074 total
  • Bajirao Mastani: Week 10; $1,207 from two theaters; $604 average; $6,563,317 total
  • Sanam Teri Kasam: Week 3; $70 from one theater; $35,796 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Streaming Video News: January 9, 2015

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with two pieces of bad news. First, Kahaani is set to expire from the streaming service on January 16, 2015. This is one of my favorite movies, and I find new details to love whenever I watch it. I’ve shared this film with people who don’t normally watch Hindi films to rave reviews. If you haven’t seen this great thriller before, check it out this weekend. If you have, watch it again to be reminded of how wonderful Vidya Balan is.

The other piece of bad news is that Daawat-e-Ishq is now available for streaming. This film squandered all of its potential and wound up on my list of the ten worst Bollywood films of 2014.

Better options from 2014 on Netflix include Ankhon Dekhi and Siddharth, both of which made my Top Ten List.

In Theaters: May 2, 2014

Theatrical trailers are unreliable indicators of which Hindi films will actually open in the U.S. For example, the trailer for Paan Singh Tomar ran in local theaters a year after the film’s release. Still, I was sure that the coming-of-age drama Purani Jeans would open in the Chicago area. Its trailer ran here for a month, and there was little competition from other Hindi films releasing the same weekend.

Nope. Purani Jeans isn’t opening in Chicago area, and neither is any other new Hindi film. Chicago area Bollywood fans have two options in theaters the weekend beginning Friday, May 2, 2014, and, no, Kaanchi isn’t one of them.

2 States carries over for a third week in six local theaters: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.

The Lunchbox gets yet another week at Landmark’s Renaissance Place Cinema in Highland Park.

A few Telugu movies are playing in the Chicago area this weekend, too. Both the Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge are carrying Kotha Janta and Anaamika, a remake of one of my favorite films, Kahaani. The Seven Bridges also carries over Race Gurram for another week.

Best Bollywood Movies of 2012

2012 was a good year for Hindi movies. Of the fifty 2012 releases that I reviewed this year, thirty-one earned positive reviews of 2.5-stars or higher. The ten films below were the best of the best. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

My favorite movies of the year were almost exclusively dramas, whether the subject matter was political (e.g., Shanghai and Chakravyuh), social (e.g., Ishaqzaade and Talaash), or personal (e.g., Cocktail and Patang).

English Vinglish — a personal drama about a mother’s quest to regain her self-worth — proved to be one of the years most delightful surprises, thanks to a triumphant return to the big screen by Sridevi.

I awarded a perfect four-stars to three movies this year — movies that could not be more different from one another. Supermen of Malegaon is one of the most fun and fascinating documentaries I’ve ever seen. While it never released theatrically in the U.S., the whole movie is available for free with English subtitles on YouTube.

Evaluated in a vacuum, Barfi! is a wonderful and heart-wrenching movie. But given director Anurag Basu’s apparent lifting of whole scenes from other films, I have trouble recommending it with a clear conscience. Therefore, I instead recommend the (unfortunately-titled) Jism 2, a movie so bad, it’s good. There’s no movie I had more fun watching in 2012.

The best film of the year was a meticulously crafted thriller with character development to spare and a magnificent, evocative setting. My best Bollywood movie of 2012 is Kahaani.

This is a movie I could watch over and over again. Vidya Balan reaffirms that she’s the most talented actress working in Hindi films at the moment. Her co-star, Parambrata Chatterjee, holds his own alongside her, playing a police officer with a crush that’s doomed to go nowhere.

One aspect of Kahaani I particularly appreciate is its positive take on marriage. Balan plays Vidya, a pregnant woman from London searching for her husband, Arnab, who’s gone missing in Kolkata. Everyone tries to tell her that he has probably just run out on her, but she refuses to believe them. She knows in her heart that not only would he never leave their unborn baby, but he wouldn’t leave her, either.

So often, we’re confronted with cultural tropes that portray marriage negatively. Husbands are depicted as either incorrigible philanderers or hapless morons barely tolerated by wives who only need them for baby-making and yardwork.
Isn’t it more satisfying to see an onscreen marriage in which both partners really know and value each other? That’s what makes Vidya’s search so frustrating and engrossing: there’s real love at stake.

Best Bollywood Movies of 2012

  1. Kahaani — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  2. Barfi! — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  3. Supermen of Malegaon — Buy at Amazon
  4. Talaash — Buy at Amazon
  5. English Vinglish — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  6. Patang — Buy/rent at iTunes
  7. Ishaqzaade — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  8. Chakravyuh — Buy at Amazon
  9. Shanghai — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  10. Cocktail — Buy at Amazon

Honorable MentionJism 2 — Buy at Amazon

Previous Best Movies Lists

 

Opening July 27: Kya Super Kool Hain Hum

New in Chicago area theaters on July 27, 2012, is the comedy Kya Super Kool Hain Hum, starring Ritesh Deshmukh and Tusshar Kapoor.

Kya (or Kyaa) Super Kool Hain Hum opens on Friday at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and the Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 16 min.

Thanks to impressive earnings of $1,027,121 from its first two weeks in the U.S., Cocktail gets a third week at both of the above theaters. Bol Bachchan — also performing well in the States, with earnings of $1,155,696 so far — gets a fourth week at the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles this weekend include Eega (Telugu), Karnan (Tamil film from 1964), Onamalu (Telugu), and Ustad Hotel (Malayalam).

On Tuesday, July 31, the DVD of Kahaani becomes available to Netflix subscribers. If you missed the superb thriller in the theater, be sure to add it to your DVD queue.

Trailers for a pair of high-profile upcoming releases went public recently. Heroine hits theaters September 21, while Son of Sardaar debuts on November 13.

Movie Review: Married 2 America (2012)

1 Star (out of 4)

Whether a matter of bad luck or poor planning, it’s unfortunate that Married 2 America debuted in India a month before Kahaani (and released two months after Kahaani in the U.S.). Both movies share a remarkably similar premise, and since Kahaani is probably the best Hindi movie of 2012 so far, Married 2 America looks terrible by comparison.

But even without the high bar set by Kahaani, Married 2 America would still be a snoozefest. It feels more like an extended episode of a soap opera than an event worthy of the big screen.

Married 2 America — an utterly meaningless title — opens with scenes of a tragic dam collapse in India. A torrent of water decimates a model village straight from the set of a 1950s Godzilla movie. Small kudos to the special effects department for using real miniatures and not bad CGI effects, at least not until another laughable flood scene later in the movie.

Fast forward two weeks to the New Jersey home of unhappily married couple Ravi (Chetan Pandit) and Anjali (Archana Joglekar). Ravi is consumed by his work, though he won’t tell Anjali what the problem is as he rebuffs her romantic overtures. He acts like a jerk to her, then leaves for India without so much as a hug good-bye.

After no contact from her husband for almost four months, Anjali finally seeks answers from the American architectural firm Ravi works for. His inexplicably British boss Mr. Jason tells Anjali that Ravi probably abandoned the marriage because, “As a wife, you were too perfect.”

Anjali goes to India herself where she learns that Ravi built the dam that collapsed in the opening scenes. The tragedy claimed the lives of hundreds of people and left thousands more homeless. There are plenty of people who might want Ravi dead, especially if the collapse wasn’t an accident.

Let me jump back to Anjali’s visit to the architectural firm. It’s revealed early on that Ravi goes missing after uncovering evidence of a conspiracy. He never tells his company about it, so it’s not as though Mr. Jason has any reason to cover up Ravi’s disappearance. Mr. Jason is just mean to Anjali for no reason and apparently unconcerned that one of his star employees has flown the coop.

The story drags on forever as Ravi and Anjali are separately kidnapped by two different mafia dons, only to both escape on the same night in attempts to free each other, only to then be captured by the don who formerly held his or her spouse. Married 2 America has a two-and-a-half hour runtime because of nonsense like this.

The acting is uniformly terrible. Many of the supporting cast sound as though they’re reading from cue cards. Pandit and Joglekar sleepwalk their way through the film with dead-behind-the-eyes performances. Ravi’s televised speech in which he belatedly admits to sort-of loving Anjali is particularly cringe-worthy.

Since none of the actors are up to emoting, the corny soundtrack goes overboard with emotional cues. It adds to the melodramatic and soapy feel of the movie. The song montages featuring Anjali looking forlorn are a joke.

Skip Married 2 America and watch Kahaani instead.

Links

Opening May 25: Arjun and Married 2 America

Two films make their debuts in Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning May 25, 2012. First up is Arjun: The Warrior Prince, an animated film co-produced by UTV and Disney.

Arjun opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles. The family friendly film has English subtitles and a runtime of 96 minutes.

Also new in local theaters this weekend is Married 2 America, a thriller about an Indian-America woman whose husband goes missing while investigating a dam accident in India. The film released in Indian theaters on February 17. I suspect the success of Kahaani — which has a similar premise — prompted the eventual release of Married 2 America in the States.

Married 2 America opens on Friday at the Golf Glen 5 and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Department carries over for a second week at both the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30, which also holds over Vicky Donor for a sixth week. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — a British comedy set in India — expands nationwide this weekend.

Other Indian movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include the Telugu films Daruvu and Gabbar Singh and the Malayalam film Mallu Singh. The U.S. box office report for last weekend listed the total U.S. earnings for Grandmaster ($17,077) and Kalakalappu @ Masala Cafe ($30,949).

Hate Story — which released in Indian theaters on March 18 but never opened in Chicago — debuts on Mela on May 25 as well.

If you’d like to catch up on other films released earlier this year, the Bollywood rom-coms Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya and Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu are currently available for streaming on Netflix, as is the Tamil action film Vettai.

Streaming Bollywood Films on the iPad

Update: The streaming service Mela shuts down permanently on September 15, 2012. With its only real competitor out of the picture, Netflix is unquestionably the best option for streaming Bollywood movies on iPad devices.

With Indian Premier League Cricket slowing the flow of major releases out of Bollywood, it’s time to examine another option for watching Hindi movies. iPad owners in the U.S. have several ways to stream Bollywood movies on their devices. But which app is the best, particularly for movie fans who rely (as I do) on English subtitles?

When reviewing streaming video services, I considered a few criteria:

  1. Is the app easy to search and navigate?
  2. How comprehensive is the catalog of movies available?
  3. Is one of the movies in the catalog Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge?

All of the apps reviewed have a fee associated with full access to their catalogs. Here’s a look at the few of the streaming services available on the iPad.

Mela

Unlike other video streaming services, Mela focuses exclusively on Indian content. Mela’s iPad catalog — a subset of the full range of video entertainment available with their set-top box, which includes TV shows — features hundreds of movies in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi, and Gujarati. The full movie catalog is accessible with a $4.99 monthly subscription, though a limited number of films can be viewed for free without a subscription.

By virtue of having a narrow focus, the Mela iPad app is incredibly easy to search. After selecting which films you’d like to browse by language, movies are organized alphabetically by title. Movies cover a wide date range, from the ’60s to the present, including a number of films released in 2012.

Most of these newer films are independent movies that didn’t release in U.S. theaters. For most American fans, Mela is the only way to see the horror flick Ghost or the relationship drama Chaurahen.

But Mela offers more than just arthouse fare. It offers 2011 hits like The Dirty Picture and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and will soon add this year’s outstanding thriller Kahaani to its catalog.

Mela gets an incomplete grade on one criterion: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is available for streaming, but it’s not subtitled in English.

That’s Mela’s biggest drawback, at the moment: not all of the movies are subtitled in English, and not all of those films are marked as being subtitled in the movie description. I often have to start a movie and fast forward to see if the dialog is subtitled. Most recent releases are subtitled — as Kahaani will be — and the company continues to add subtitles to older films already in the catalog, a process that the company says should be completed in the next couple of months. (Dear Mela: please prioritize subtitling Disco Dancer. Thanks!)

Another feature that would make the app ideal would be an ability to search movies by release year. However, within each language, there is a category for newly added titles, which includes recent theatrical releases.

Netflix

Netflix is undoubtedly the video service Americans are most familiar with. In addition to an extensive library of DVDs, Netflix has more than 70 Hindi titles available for streaming. The unlimited streaming plan costs $7.99 per month and allows subscribers to watch movies on their computers, TV or mobile devices (adding a DVD-by-mail option costs an additional $7.99 per month, minimum).

The quality of Netflix’s Hindi streaming video catalog is impressive, and all the films are subtitled in English. The catalog presently includes popular titles like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Dum Maaro Dum, and, most importantly, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. The other obvious advantage for Netflix is its huge catalog of English-language movies and TV shows, as well as other foreign films.

However, the Netflix app doesn’t lend itself to serious catalog browsing. In addition to showcasing new releases, the home screen of my Netflix app suggested movies from odd categories like “Quirky Documentaries” and “Inspiring Movies”: clever, but useless if I want to see what new Hindi movies are available. Unlike at Netflix’s website, movies listed under the “Foreign” browsing category aren’t further subdivided by language, though it did suggest some titles in a “Bollywood” subcategory. Searching under the word “Hindi” yielded no results.

If I want to see which Hindi movie at Netflix has the most recent theatrical release date, I have to go to the Netflix website, search for Hindi-language movies, sort them by release year, add the appropriate movie to my queue, and then access my queue on the iPad app to watch the movie. It’s a more complicated process than it should be.

Hulu Plus

While Hulu specializes in TV content, it also offers movies for streaming. Much of the service is available for free on a computer, but iPad access requires a subscription to Hulu Plus for a cost of $7.99 per month. Like Netflix, a subscription offers access to a wide range of content beyond Bollywood films.

Also like Netflix, Hulu’s catalog is a pain to search on the Hulu Plus iPad app. Hulu’s catalog of movies isn’t available to browse by category, so I searched for movies using the term “Hindi.” Searching for the term on the iPad yielded fewer than thirty titles, while the same search at Hulu’s website yielded more than sixty titles. (Oddly, Hulu doesn’t include Hindi movies in their “Foreign Language” category.)  Dil Se stood out among a largely unimpressive catalog that included the likes of 8×10 Tasveer and All the Best.

More annoying is that closed captioning is available on movies at Hulu’s website, but not on the Hulu Plus iPad app (though it is available on some other mobile devices). Not all of the Hindi movies in the catalog are subtitled automatically. So even generating a queue at Hulu’s website and selecting films from that queue doesn’t guarantee that the movie is watchable on the iPad.

The Rest

Thanks to an agreement several years ago with Eros Entertainment, Vudu has number of Bollywood movies available for rental and purchase on an individual basis. Most titles are from 2006 and earlier. The Vudu app is a player only, which means that movies must be browsed and purchased at the Vudu website for later viewing on the Vudu app. I found the process tedious and the catalog largely unsearchable, so I won’t bother renting from Vudu.

Neither Amazon Instant Videos nor YouTube Movies are currently available on the iPad.

Summary

For hardcore Bollywood fans, Mela is an essential app, especially since it costs less than other movie streaming apps. Even though many movies in the catalog currently lack subtitles, there are more than enough to keep English-only fans occupied until the catalog is completely subtitled. And no other company prioritizes independent Indian films the way Mela does.

Netflix is a great app for movie fans who don’t want to be limited to Bollywood titles alone. If you don’t live within driving distance of a theater that shows Hindi films, the Netflix catalog will keep you up to date on many of the biggest hits. However, for $3 more per month than Mela, be sure you take advantage of all the service has to offer in order to get your money’s worth.

Hulu Plus isn’t worth it for Bollywood movies alone, as you’ll quickly exhaust the limited selection of subpar titles. And with other services offering newer films, there’s no reason to bother slogging though Vudu’s annoying catalog.

Happy streaming!

In Theaters April 13, 2012

There are no new Hindi movies opening in Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning Friday, April 13, 2012, but a couple of heavy hitters continue to commandeer local screenspace. After finishing in the top ten in U.S. box office returns in its opening weekend, Housefull 2 carries over at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Kahaani gets a well-deserved sixth week at the South Barrington 30.

Other movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include the Canadian thriller Pseudo: Blood of Our Own, The King & the Commissioner (Malayalam), and Rachcha (Telugu).