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
The heist film Raja Natwarlal didn’t set the North American box office on fire during its opening weekend, but its performance was typical for an Emraan Hashmi film in the United States and Canada. From August 29-31, 2014, Raja Natwarlal earned $83,669 from 73 theaters, an average of $1,146 per screen. Including its earnings from Monday’s Labor Day holiday in the U.S., Raja Natwarlal‘s total North American earnings stand at $102,314.
That total is decent for a Hashmi film. However, the per screen average is low thanks to it comparatively wide release. Take a look at the opening weekend earnings and screen counts for some recent Hashmi releases, along with the films’ total North American earnings:
- Ghanchakkar: $143,616 from 89 screens ($1,614 avg); $203,044 total
- Ek Thi Dayaan: $65,857 from 48 screens ($1,372 avg); $112,135 total
- Raaz 3: $95,301 from 28 screens ($3,404 avg); $150,716 total
- Shanghai: $107,565 from 37 screens ($2,907 avg); $183,748 total
- Jannat 2: $45,000 from 19 screens ($2,368 avg); $54,148 total
- The Dirty Picture: $267,722 from 52 screens ($5,149 avg); $462,000 total
Given that Hashmi’s films typically gross less than $200,000 in North America, I’m not sure there’s much need to open them in more than 50 theaters. Even his highest profile film — The Dirty Picture — opened in just 52 theaters here. Expanding the screen count for his films seems to dilute their per-theater returns without significantly increasing overall gross.
Mardaani held up well in its second weekend, earning $77,252 from 48 theaters ($1,609 average). The total gross for the Rani Mukerji thriller stands at $308,601.
Singham Returns likewise continued its strong run, adding $51,485 over the course of its third weekend. Its total earnings through Labor Day are $1,209,663.
Other Hindi movies still in theaters:
- The Lunchbox: Week 27; $1,302 from two theaters ($651 average); $4,037,755 total
- Kick: Week 6; $14 from one theater; $2,403,553 total
For a second weekend, Singham Returns held on to the top spot among Bollywood movies showing in North America. From August 22-24, 2014, the Ajay Devgn action sequel earned $218,164 from 127 theaters ($1,718 average), bringing its total earnings to $1,085,328. That total ranks sixth among Hindi films in North America in 2014, about $170,000 shy of Jai Ho.
The strong performance by Singham Returns forced new release Mardaani into second place for the weekend. (To be fair, Mardaani played on a third fewer screens than Singham Returns.) According to Bollywood Hungama, Mardaani earned $168,997 from 86 theaters, an average of $1,965.
I’m optimistic about Mardaani‘s second weekend for a few reasons. The movie has a high user rating of 8.1 stars at IMDb. Monday is a national holiday in the United States (Labor Day). And this Friday’s new release, Raja Natwarlal, will likely open on fewer than a hundred screens. All those factors could help Mardaani retain a good chunk of its first weekend earnings.
Complete North American box office figures for Akshay Kumar’s Entertainment remain impossible to come by. Based on the $143,699 the movie has earned in Canada so far, Entertainment‘s three-week North American total is likely around $500,000.
Other Hindi movies showing in North America include:
- Siddharth: Week 6; $2,491 from one theater; $59,808 total
- Kick: Week 5; $2,041 from four theaters ($510 average); $2,402,677 total
- The Lunchbox: Week 26; $725 from two theaters ($363 average) ;$4,035,675 total
The Rani Mukerji crime thriller Mardaani (“Masculine“) hits Chicago area theaters on August 22, 2014.
Mardaani opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 54 min.
After a super opening weekend, Singham Returns carries over at all four of the above theaters plus the AMC Showplace Niles 16 in Niles, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.
Singham Returns got off to a terrific start, turning in the fourth best opening weekend for a Hindi film in North America in 2014. Over the weekend of August 15-17, Singham Returns earned $654,054 from 127 theaters in the United States and Canada ($5,150 average), according to Box Office Mojo.
Singham Return‘s performance is significantly better than that of its predecessor, 2011’s Singham. In its opening weekend in North America, Singham earned $161,063 from 50 theaters ($3,221 average). During nine weeks of release, Singham earned a total of $350,864: a figure that Singham Returns nearly doubled in its first three days in theaters.
For a second week, the distributors of Entertainment failed to disclose their U.S. box office returns. We do know from Bollywood Hungama that the comedy earned $27,281 from 17 Canadian theaters, bringing its total in that country to $123,195.
Given that Akshay Kumar’s earlier 2014 release, Holiday, earned about 26% of its total North American gross from Canada, let’s assume that the $123,195 Entertainment earned in Canada represents 26% of its total haul as well. That would put Entertainment‘s total North American earnings at approximately $473,827. Fingers crossed that we’ll get the official figure someday.
Two other Hindi movies ran in the U.S. and Canada over the weekend:
- Kick: Week 4; $19,102 from 14 theaters ($1,364 average); $2,398,097 total
- The Lunchbox: Week 25; $1,652 from four theaters ($413 average); $4,033,909 total
The distributors of Entertainment didn’t report their complete North American box office figures to either Rentrak or Box Office Mojo, perhaps with good reason. The figures that do exist paint a bleak picture.
According to the Rentrak information posted by Bollywood Hungama, Entertainment‘s opening weekend gross earnings in North America (sans theater count) amounted to $236,257. Among the twenty-five Akshay Kumar releases of the last seven years for which I have opening weekend figures, Entertainment ranks in the bottom quartile, between Thank You ($244,183) and Khiladi 786 ($228,967).
This is a disappointment given the relatively good performance of Kumar’s Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty in June. However, it fits with the overall downward trend in Kumar’s popularity in the United States and Canada.
In its third weekend in theaters, Kick continued to pad its impressive North American tally. From 67 theaters, it earned $89,405 ($1,334 average), bringing its total to $2,331,837.
Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania closed out its fifth weekend of release by earning $1,231 from theaters ($410 average). Its total earnings of $882,343 rank eighth among Hindi movies released in North America in 2014.
The Lunchbox added another $650 to its 24-week total of $4,031,729.
Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama
Akshay Kumar’s latest comedy, Entertainment (formerly titled It’s Entertainment), opens in the Chicago area on August 8, 2014. The trailer makes my head hurt.
Entertainment opens on Friday at the AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 19 min.
Though not a Hindi movie, the culinary drama The Hundred-Foot Journey features Bollywood veterans Om Puri and Juhi Chawla. It releases nationwide on Friday.
Other Indian movies showing at MovieMax this weekend include Geethanjali (Telugu), Galipatam (Telugu), Run Raja Run (Telugu), Jigarthanda (Tamil), Vikramadithyan (Malayalam), Sarabham (Tamil), Drushyam (Telugu), and Velaiyilla Pattathari (Tamil).
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
With studios unwilling to go up against the juggernaut Kick, there are no new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area on Friday, August 1, 2014. After a terrific opening weekend, Kick carries over for a second week at seven local theaters: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.
The only other Bollywood movie showing in the area this weekend is Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania at the South Barrington 30.
Other Indian movies playing at MovieMax this weekend include Run Raja Run (Telugu), Jigarthanda (Tamil), Vikramadithyan (Malayalam), Maaya (Telugu), Sarabham (Tamil), Adavi Kaachina Vennela (Telugu), Drushyam (Telugu), Alludu Sreenu (Telugu), Velaiyilla Pattathari (Tamil), and Bangalore Days (Malayalam).