Even with so many good titles now on Netflix — Shanghai, Company, and the underrated comedy The Shaukeens among them — the new addition I am most excited about is the batshit crazy 2003 crime caper Boom. Katrina Kaif’s film debut costars Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, a Bo Derek-obsessed Amitabh Bachchan, and Jackie Shroff, whose character has a secretary that lives under his desk. You have to see Boom to believe it, it’s just that insane.
For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check out Instant Watcher.
I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with three new additions to the streaming catalog, including two 2016 theatrical releases. The highest profile addition is Airlift, which stars Akshay Kumar in a fictionalized version of 1990 evacuation of 170,000 Indian citizens from Kuwait following Iraq’s invasion. I felt the movie fell short of its potential, but it is a fitting choice for some patriotic Independence Day viewing.
The Tiger Shroff-Shraddha Kapoor action flick Baaghi hit all its marks in its first weekend in North America. From April 29-May 1, 2016, it earned $233,793 from 96 theaters ($2,435 average). It opened in the seventh highest number of theaters this year, posting the seventh best opening weekend average and eighth best opening weekend total. Not bad at all. Further, Baaghi‘s performance was leaps and bounds better than Shroff’s 2014 debut, Heropanti, which earned just $31,556 from 20 theaters ($1,578 average) in its opening weekend here.
Last weekend’s new release, Laal Rang, has the dubious distinction of being the first Hindi film of 2016 to exit theaters after just one week. A $5,874 opening weekend will do that to ya.
In its third weekend, Fan earned $91,376 from 87 theaters ($1,050 average), bringing its total to $2,246,220. That ends any chance of Fan wresting the top spot from Kapoor & Sons, which added another $5,560 from five theaters ($1,112 average) to bring its seven-week total to $2,656,169.
Ki and Ka took in $1,954 from five theaters ($391 average), bringing its total to $919,815.
If you’re curious as to why movies featuring Randeep Hooda as the headlining star don’t release internationally, look no further than Laal Rang. From April 22-24, 2016, it earned just $5,874 from 31 North American theaters, a per-screen average of $189. Yuck. That’s the second worst opening weekend of the year after Loveshhuda ($1,399 from eight theaters), and that movie starred a couple of no-names. Randeep is my favorite actor, but apparently I’m one of the few people on the continent who will buy a ticket to watch him as the solo lead in a film. I was not surprised to have the entire theater to myself Friday morning.
The weekend was notable for another disappointing box office performance. In its second weekend, Fan earned $353,949 from 249 North American theaters ($1,421 average). That’s a drop of 74% from its opening weekend. Compare that to how this year’s other high-earners fared in their second weekends: Kapoor & Sons (-40%); Airlift (-41%); Neerja (-27%). Perhaps Fan‘s most comparable film among wide releases is Fitoor, which saw its second weekend biz drop by 87%.
Yash Raj Films should be worried, because among Hindi films that failed to retain at least 30% of their opening weekend gross in their second weekends, none have been able to double their opening weekend gross over the course of their theatrical run. (For Fan, that double figure would be $2,677,506.) That raises the distinct possibility that Fan may not be able to unseat Kapoor & Sons from atop this year’s North American leaderboard.
Of course, Fan has plenty going for it, including Shah Rukh Khan’s star power, a huge theatrical presence, and a favorable Bollywood calendar that won’t see another wide release until Housefull 3 on June 3. On the downside, waning interest tends to have a snowball effect. Fitoor earned $2,171 in its third weekend. With per-screen average earnings currently on par with Hollywood movies that have been out for a few weeks, there isn’t much incentive for theaters to keep Fan around, especially those theaters that rarely carry Hindi films. Even regular Bollywood theaters will be under pressure to free up screen space when Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6. Fan needs a really good second week and solid third weekend if it has any chance of beating Kapoor & Sons.
Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:
Kapoor & Sons: Week 6; $13,352 from 12 theaters; $1,113 average; $2,647,874 total
Ki and Ka: Week 4; $8,074 from 12 theaters; $673 average; $914,993 total
Laal Rang (“The Color Red“) is a treat for Randeep Hooda fans, but it’s not an especially good movie.
Although Hooda is the biggest star in the cast, he doesn’t play the protagonist. That gives him the freedom to chew through scenery like a wood chipper, but at the expense of screentime given to another character who frankly sucks.
That character is Rajesh (Akshay Oberoi), a young guy from a modest background who’s studying to be a laboratory technician. In his lab tech program, he meets Poonam (cute Piaa Bajpai), a fellow student with whom he falls in love. It’s also where he meets Shankar (Hooda), an alluring criminal who sells blood.
International moviegoers may find the setup for Laal Rang confusing. Sophomore writer-director Syed Ahmad Afzal’s story assumes that the audience has a certain degree of familiarity with the Indian hospital system. (This knowledge prerequisite was also a problem in Afzal’s first movie, the political drama Youngistaan.) Without such background information, the very notion of an illegal blood trade sounds bizarre.
Based on what I’ve learned from other Hindi films, Indian public hospitals require the families of patients to source their own medications and supplies needed during the course of the patient’s hospital stay. This is opposed to the American system in which the hospital provides everything during the patient’s stay and bills the patient later.
The premise in Laal Rang is that men like Shankar exploit Indian’s chronically short supply of blood — another problem that is sadly not explained — by selling blood bags at exorbitant prices. Shankar’s blood is either stolen from other hospitals or donated by junkies looking to earn a few extra rupees. A lab tech degree would make Shankar’s black market enterprise even easier, hence his enrollment in a program with students at least a decade his junior.
Shankar is cut from the same cloth as Matthew McConaughey’s character Wooderson in Dazed and Confused. Not only are both characters much older than the people they hang around with, but they have the same sleazy charisma. Shankar is kind of gross, but his throaty laugh and magnificent hair make one overlook his less savory qualities. Watching Hooda ooze his way through his scenes is a lot of fun.
Rajesh takes one look at Shankar’s spinning belt buckle and cool motorcycle and decides he wants in on whatever action this dude is running. Soon enough, Rajesh is delivering blood bags on Shankar’s behalf and raking in the dough. Rajesh romances Poonam on the side in a boring subplot that forces Hooda offscreen.
Rajesh justifies his illegal activities by saying that he needs the cash so that he can marry Poonam, but he’s really just greedy and impatient. There’s no reason why he and Poonam can’t wait to marry until they graduate and find jobs. Then Rajesh spends his first big windfall on his own motorcycle and a wardrobe modeled after Shankar’s signature look: boots, jeans, and a flashy shirt.
A couple of characters tell Rajesh that he’s a good person, but there’s nothing to substantiate that. He turns to crime because he wants easy money. As soon as he’s out from under Shankar’s wing, Rajesh does something so heinous as to be unforgivable.
Yet Rajesh never pays for his crimes. His otherwise upstanding parents don’t want to know where his money comes from, and Poonam doesn’t care. Rajesh doesn’t really learn anything or develop a conscience, so what’s the point? Why is he the main character?
Perhaps making Hooda’s character the protagonist and giving him a growth arc would have cut down on his swagger. Who knows? Still, when the only reason to watch Laal Rang is for Hooda, why not just cut out the rest of the fluff and let us enjoy him?