I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with 35 Indian movies that were just added to the streaming catalog. Three Tamil films, two Malayalam movies, and the 2018 Punjabi drama Asees are now available, along with a trove of Hindi films released theatrically from 2006-2015. Most of the titles are new to Netflix. Here are links those I’ve previously reviewed:
This is probably my favorite sports movie ever. Shahrukh Khan plays the coach of the talented but underestimated Indian national women’s field hockey team. It’s a great film for families, and especially for girls. Its pro-diversity message also makes it one of the most patriotic Bollywood films out there.
Three cricket-loving young men find their hopes for the future dashed by an earthquake and a wave of political and religious violence. Kai Po Che is worth watching for performances by some of Bollywood’s hottest young stars.
Three single friends go on one last road trip, challenging themselves with extreme sports like sky diving along the way. A fun movie with a super cast. My favorite part of ZNMD is the song “Señorita,” sung by the movie’s stars: Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, and Abhay Deol.
What stands out most on my Top Ten list for 2013 is the diversity of genres represented. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there’s a really good movie on this list. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
In addition to the great variety on the list, all the movies mentioned are accessible to an international audience. Familiarity with Hindi movies and their structure may enhance one’s appreciation of Phata Poster Nikla Hero or Commando: A One Man Army, but a lack of prior experience shouldn’t keep Bollywood newcomers from enjoying them. In fact, Commando‘s best selling point is that it’s a martial arts action flick with a romantic dance number in the middle.
D-Day also features my single favorite scene in any movie from 2013: a heartbreaking song montage about the doomed relationship between an assassin (Arjun Rampal) and a prostitute (Shruti Haasan).
My favorite Hindi movie of 2013 offers the perfect mix of passion and drama in a beautiful setting. If I could dream up an ideal romantic movie, it would be Lootera. [Buy it on DVD here.]
Writers Vikramaditya Motwane and Bhavani Iyer took a short story by O. Henry and adapted it to depict a tumultuous time period in India, as family fortunes were dismantled in the years following partition. Imagine trying to cope with the heightened emotions of first love while your way of life is turned on its head. Such are the circumstances for Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) and her beau, Varun (Ranveer Singh).
Fans of Victorian literature or contemporary period dramas like Downton Abbey: Lootera is made for you.
At long last, a likely Bollywood blockbuster is set to open in Chicago area theaters. Himmatwala stars Ajay Devgn in a remake of the 1983 action flick of the same name. In Singham, Devgn’s open-handed slap attacks were accompanied by a lion’s roar, and now he wrestles a tiger in Himmatwala. Is this big cat theme deliberate?
Pickings remain slim in Chicago area theaters. Only one new Hindi movie opens locally on March 22, 2013, and it’s not the one I wanted. Instead of the creepy-looking Bipasha Basu/Nawazuddin Siddiqui horror flick Aatma, we get Rangrezz, producer Vashu Bhagnani’s latest attempt to turn his son, Jackky, into a Bollywood star, against the wishes of audiences everywhere.
Just four weeks after its theatrical release, The Attacks of 26/11 joins the catalog of films of available on Eros Now on Friday. Like 3G, it’s considered a premium title that’s free to subscribers or available for a 48-hour rental for $1.99.
Update: The new release 3G is currently available on Eros Now not only to subscribers but on a 48-hour rental basis for $1.99. However, due to rights restrictions, the film isn’t available online in India, Pakistan, Burma, Fiji, UAE, Mauritius, Kenya, or South Africa.
Uh-oh. This is the second weekend in a row with no new Hindi movies opening in Chicago area theaters. The absence of Jolly LLB isn’t a surprise, but I expected Y-Films’ Mere Dad Ki Maruti to release here. I’m still hopeful that we’ll get the Bipasha Basu horror flick Aatma next week, but there’s a chance Chicago area Bollywood fans will have to go without until Himmatwala debuts on March 29.
The good news is that Eros Now subscribers can watch 3G on the streaming service starting this Friday, March 15, the same day that it opens in India. That bad news for Neil Nitin Mukesh fans is that the failure of 3G to get a large roll out on the heels of a very small U.S. release of David last month seems to definitively rule him out as a bankable international leading man. I expect we won’t see much of him in The States in the future outside of roles in ensemble pictures like 7 Khoon Maaf.
With first weekend U.S. earnings of $159,619, The Attacks of 26/11 gets a second weekend at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. The Golf Glen 5 is the only area theater holding over last week’s other new release, I, Me aur Main, which presumably fared even worse at the box office.
Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include the Telugu film Gundello Godari and the Malayalam film Manjadikuru (“Lucky Red Seeds“).
Two more new Hindi movies are set to open in the Chicago area on March 1, 2013. The romantic drama I, Me Aur Main stars John Abraham as a pampered man-child opposite Chitrangada Singh and Prachi Desai.
Director Ram Gopal Varma’s thriller The Attacks of 26/11 also opens in area theaters on Friday. Given the relative freshness of the wounds inflicted by the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, I’m curious to see if RGV will rein in some of his more eccentric directorial quirks and tell a more somber, straightforward story.
The Attacks of 26/11 opens on Friday at all of the above theaters and has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 59 min.
Kai Po Che! gets its title from a Gujarati phrase shouted in celebration during the annual kite festival in Ahmedabad. There’s reason to celebrate, as this is a great movie.
If Kai Po Che! has any flaw, it’s in the way the film begins. The film opens with a man named Govi picking up another man, Omi, upon his release from prison. Omi asks where Ishaan is, and Govi explains that Ishaan will meet them at the cricket stadium. Then a subtitle reads “Ten Years Earlier” to signal the real beginning of the story.
Opening with present day footage only to flash back to the real story is the trendy way to start a movie these days, but I suspect the technique will seem dated in the years to come. Rather than watching the story as it unfolds, the audience is forced to ponder questions throughout the whole movie, such as when and how Omi is going to wind up in jail. It’s distracting. However, I’m willing to forgive the opening because the technique is currently so common and because the rest of the movie is essentially flawless.
The three disparate friends — Govi (Raj Kumar Yadav), Omi (Amit Sadh), and Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) — are united in their struggle to figure out what to do now that they’re adults. Straight-laced Govi plans to open a sporting goods store and cricket academy, if only he can get his two layabout buddies to cooperate.
The plan hinges on Ishaan, a cricket player with enough talent to be a local hero, but not enough to play in the big leagues. Having sailed through life on his athletic prowess and his family’s wealth, Ishaan is not in a hurry to grow up.
Omi is the most intriguing of the three. He’s devoted to Ishaan and resents when Govi chastises the cricketer for being lazy and selfish. Omi demands respect but does nothing to earn it.
As the business takes off — thanks to a loan from Omi’s shady politician uncle, Bittoo (Manav Kaul) — the three friends undergo some major changes. Govi starts a clandestine friendship with Ishaan’s younger sister, Vidya (Amrita Puri). Ishaan devotes his attention to developing the talents of a promising young cricketer, Ali (Digvijay Deshmukh). That leaves Omi on the outside, making him easy prey for ambitious Bittoo.
The friends’ lives are also shaped by real-life events that occurred in Ahmedabad in the early 2000s, including a devastating earthquake. The city is rife with religious and political tension between Bittoo’s majority Hindu party and the Muslim-favored party, lead by Ali’s father.
All of the circumstances allow for tremendous character growth, and the actors perform brilliantly. Yadav and Rajput get to have the most fun, with Govi growing (slightly) more rebellious just as Ishaan becomes more responsible.
Sadh is fascinating as Omi. Early in the film, while Omi is still firmly in Ishaan’s thrall, there’s a dimness in Omi’s eyes. While it’s obvious that Ishaan isn’t living up to his potential, it seems like Omi has reached his: Ishaan’s toady for life. Only when Omi feels himself pushed aside for Ishaan’s twelve-year-old protege does the spark alight in his eyes, and not in a good way.
The story is so well-paced and allows enough time to establish a real sense of place. Ahmedabad is shown as full of opportunity, if only nature and the people who live there will cooperate. Kai Po Che! is a nice tribute to the city and the notion of friendship that endures through dramatic changes.