A week of new releases to celebrate Diwali kicked off with today’s premiere of the Akshay Kumar horror comedy Laxmii on Hotstar. Thursday, November 12 sees the debut of the ensemble dark comedy Ludo on Netflix and the Tamil film Soorari Pottru on Amazon Prime. Finally, the social comedy Chhalaang premieres on Amazon Prime on Friday, November 13.
I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the new release Gatham, which is available in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu. There’s been a ton of upheaval on Prime in the last week, with hundreds of titles disappearing — some for several days — only for most of them to reappear on the service. The listings at my page are now up-to-date, but it did mean hours of ultimately pointless work for me. 🙁 I wish Amazon handled its contract renewals and expirations as seamlessly as Netflix does.
Speaking of which, 21 Indian shows and movies are set to expire from Netflix on November 15. The full list is available on my Netflix page under the “Expiring Soon” section near the top of the page. Of the expiring films, these are the ones that I’ve reviewed:
With a new year underway, let’s take one last look at the biggest Hindi cinema duds of last year. Here are my picks for the worst Bollywood movies of 2016. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
I’m a little loath to include Baaghi on this list because the film is so unintentionally funny, but it’s also really, really bad, so I guess I have to.
Madaari tries to paint a guy who kidnaps and threatens to kill a little kid as a hero, thus earning it a spot on the list.
All the rest of the worst films of 2016 are problematic in the way they relate to women. Shivaay is weirdly hostile, while Sanam Re is tacky and outdated.
Ki and Ka‘s comedic approach to gender norms falls flat when its male character becomes a national role model just by doing chores. Still, Ki and Ka is positively progressive compared to Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3, a movie built around the stereotype that white women are sluts.
The worst film of the year is written and directed by the same man who wrote the dialogue for Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3: Milap Zaveri. Mastizaade is hatred masquerading as comedy, a mean-spirited attack on everyone who isn’t a straight, Indian man. Zaveri’s targets include women, addicts, and non-Indians, but he’s particularly fond of picking on people with disabilities. His characters literally point and laugh at a man in a wheelchair. This is about as loathsome as a film can be. Mastizaade‘s title as my Worst Bollywood Movie of 2016 is well deserved.
I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with an exciting new addition to the catalog. The raunchy yet sophisticated Brahman Naman is now available for streaming. The mostly English-language comedy was a hit earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where Netflix purchased the rights to air it. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s hilarious.
Ghayal Once Again opened to big numbers in North America, while Sanam Teri Kasam flopped hard. During the weekend of February 5-7, 2016, Ghayal Once Again earned $173,395 from 80 theaters ($2,167 average). This impressive debut for the Sunny Deol sequel was due primarily to his devoted Canadian fans. 43% of the movie’s total opening weekend gross came from 13 theaters in Canada, which accounted for just 16% of the total number of theaters in North America. The per-screen average for those Canadian theaters was $5,702, compared to $1,482 per screen in the United States.
Sanam Teri Kasam had the worst opening weekend of 2016 so far, which is saying something. It earned just $21,660 from 37 theaters, for a pathetic average of just $585. The recent anemic earnings of Sanam Teri Kasam, Mastizaade, and Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 make the case for same-day digital rental in North America, rather than theatrical releases for films that won’t bring people to the cinema. A few films tried same-day rental back in 2010 before the test was largely abandoned, but I’d love to see Eros Now revisit it.
Bollywood Hungama — which gets its information from Rentrak — didn’t post weekend earnings for Airlift, which still has a large presence in North American theaters.
Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:
Bajirao Mastani: Week 8; $4,347 from four theaters; $1,087 average; $6,558,711 total
Saala Khadoos: Week 2; $3,831 from eight theaters; $479 average; $88,381 total
Mastizaade: Week 2; $2,233 from two theaters; $1,117 average; $43,403 total
Wazir: Week 5; $818 from three theaters; $273 average; $1,112,655 total
Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3: Week 3; $190 from one theater; $31,914 total
January 29-31, 2016, was an awful weekend for new Bollywood movies in North America. Let’s look first at the better of the two new releases. According to Rentrak data supplied to Bollywood Hungama, Saala Khadoos earned $62,920 from 58 theaters ($1,085 average). Those figures are slightly lower than those reported by Box Office Mojo — $76,931 from 70 theaters; $1,099 average. Things look rosier when factoring in collections from the Tamil version of the film, Irudhi Suttru: $83,994 from 35 theaters ($2,399 average).
The weekend’s other new release — Mastizaade — got trounced. It earned just $28,529 from 46 theaters for a per-screen average of $620. It performed so poorly that, as of Tuesday, my local theater had cut back from four showings per day to just one. Its average is even worse than Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3‘s first-weekend average of $716. For a look into Mastizaade‘s bleak future, note that KKHH3 took in just $913 from eight theaters in its second weekend ($114 average), bringing its total to $31,444.
The lesson to be learned here is: don’t open Hindi sex comedies in North America. There is no demographic here yearning for sex comedies with no sex, especially not when there are racier Hollywood alternatives in theaters and a world of raunchy stuff available to anyone with an internet connection.
There’s possibly another lesson to be learned from Saala Khadoos. Sports movies are among the most easily accessible across cultures thanks to their formulaic nature and the fact that people everywhere share a love for sport, so why not adapt the advertising in the hopes of nabbing people outside of the usual target audience?
Look at the poster for Saala Khadoos. There’s nothing on the poster to indicate that it’s about boxing, and the title isn’t informative even if you know Hindi. Why not follow the route of festivals films and release it internationally with an evocative English title — Fighting Spirit or something like that — and then have R. Madhavan squaring off with Ritika Singh on the poster. As it stands, the poster only appeals to people who are already Madhavan fans.
In contrast, check out the poster for Neerja. It’s clearly a hijacking thriller set on a plane, and the woman with the gun pointed at her is dressed as a flight attendant. The text at the top reads “Fear gave her courage,” so we know that she must be the hero. The poster is geared toward people who haven’t already heard of the film, hoping to entice them to buy a theater ticket or add the movie to their Netflix queue. Sonam Kapoor fans are going to buy a ticket no matter what, so there’s no need to cater to them.
As for other Hindi movies still showing in North America, Airlift won the weekend, adding another $482,307 from 101 theaters ($4,775 average) to bring its two-week total to $1,534,443. Those figures may be on the low side since Rentrak didn’t report separate second-weekend earnings from Canada.
Wazir added another $7,513 from 11 theaters ($683 average) to bring its four-week total to $1,109,233. Bajirao Mastani closed out its seventh weekend with $6,966 from six theaters ($1,161 average). Its total stands at $6,551,448.
The weekend’s other new release is the sex comedy Mastizaade, starring Sunny Leone, Vir Das, and Tusshar Kapoor. Last weekend saw the release of another sex comedy starring Tusshar Kapoor, and that movie totally flopped in the US. The timing of this could not be worse, regardless of whether Mastizaade is any good (which seems unlikely).
Mastizaade opens on Friday at the South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, and AMC River East 21 in Chicago. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 48 min.
A major snowstorm on the east coast of the United States didn’t deter Bollywood fans from heading to the theater during the weekend of January 22-24, 2016. Airlift posted massive opening weekend returns of $815,933 from 98 theaters. That makes for a per-screen average of $8,326, the best of any film that played in North America over the weekend.
The weekend’s other new release, Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3, didn’t fare as well. It earned just $22,204 from 31 theaters in the US and Canada, for a paltry $716 average per screen.
Also over the weekend, Wazir crossed the $1 million mark in North America. In its third weekend of release, it earned another $43,048 from 35 theaters ($1,230 average), bringing its total to $1,086,910. With Airlift due to cross the million dollar mark momentarily, and with the Telugu film Nannaku Prematho‘s two-week total standing at $1,920,343, the new year is off to a spectacular start for Indian movies in North America.
Other Hindi films still in theaters:
Bajirao Mastani: Week 6; $26,906 from 16 theaters; $1,682 average; $6,530,042 total
Dilwale: Week 6; $243 from one theater; $4,865,684 total
Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 (“How Cool Are We 3“) is so stupid that it seems easy to dismiss. However, the film is built on offensive racial stereotypes, so it can’t be let off the hook no matter how moronic it is.
The plot of Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 (KKHH3, henceforth) follows the exploits of two good-for-nothing guys — innocent Kanhaiya (Tusshar Kapoor) and his horny friend, Rocky (Aftab Shivdasani) — who wind up working as porn stars in Thailand. When Kanhaiya falls for Shaalu (Mandana Karimi), a woman outside of the industry, the porn crew has to pretend to be a traditional Indian family in order to win over Shaalu’s conservative father (played by Darshan Jariwala).
Being that this is a mainstream Hindi movie, pornography is hinted at rather than shown. There’s no nudity, and sex is depicted as two people dancing together in skimpy clothing. The crew specializes in dirty versions of popular Bollywood movies, so familiarity with Hindi films is a prerequisite (though the crew’s remake of Khoobsurat as Boobsurat is self-explanatory).
Almost nothing in KKHH3 is particularly funny. Jokes mostly consist of dirty puns and obvious sex references, such as the guys celebrating Kanhaiya’s grandmother’s 69th birthday. There are tons of Hindi wordplay jokes that don’t translate into English.
The juvenile humor frequently comes at the expense of gay men and people with speech impediments. Kanhaiya also has an unfunny condition in which his eyes cross when he sees the color red.
Yet the greatest offenses are aimed at women, particularly Western women. KKHH3 opens with a tour of Rocky’s mansion. Four naked white women sleep in four different beds, presumably having each had sex with Rocky the night before. When the guys imagine Thailand, they picture a dance sequence featuring a dozen bikini-clad blondes, not Thai women.
The two porn actresses are played by Claudia Ciesla, who is Polish-German, and blue-eyed Gizele Thakral. Karimi herself is of Indian-Iranian heritage, which gives her character leeway to dance in a bikini and make sexual overtures to Kanhaiya (who politely demurs, since they aren’t yet married). Two of the other three explicitly Indian female characters who act sexually are drugged with aphrodisiacs when they do so.
The implication is clear: “good Indian girls” don’t voluntarily do the kind of naughty stuff that slutty Westernized women do. Can we get past this harmful stereotype already? If you’re not willing to even consider casting an Indian actor in a role, then maybe that role shouldn’t exist.
KKHH3‘s one redeeming feature is that the music video for the song “Expectation” by the excellent K-pop band Girl’s Day plays in the background of a scene set in a movie store. Just watch the music video below and give Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 a miss.