I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because another film produced by Excel Entertainment is departing the service. As of January 30, 2015, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. will no longer be available for streaming. This follows on the heels of today’s removal of Dil Chahta Hai, Don, and Lakshya from the catalog. Assuming this is a trend, it may be worth boosting good, older Excel releases like Rock On!! and Luck By Chance to the top of your Netflix queue.
The great road trip flick Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is now available for streaming on Netflix. I really like both ZNMD and director Zoya Akhtar’s previous film, Luck By Chance, which is also on Netflix.
I’m excited for this weekend’s new Bollywood release: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Farhan Akhtar, Hrithik Roshan and Abhay Deol roadtrip through India, Spain and Egypt, meeting Katrina Kaif along the way. Akhtar produced the film, which is written and directed by his sister, Zoya, in her second effort after her terrific debut, Luck By Chance.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara opens in the Chicago area on Friday, July 15, 2011, at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.
Given its stellar earnings of $1,232,610 in just two weeks in U.S. theaters, it’s no surprise that Delhi Belly is getting a third week at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30. Both theaters are carrying over Bbuddah…Hoga Terra Baap for a third week as well.
Despite losing a couple of months of releases because of a dispute with theater owners, Indian filmmakers released a number of terrific Hindi movies in 2009. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
Dramas Kurbaan and New York addressed terrorism with boldness and honesty, examining the reasons ordinary people become extremists. Delhi-6 dealt with religious differences in a manner both compelling and accessible. American audiences will enjoy the soundtrack by Oscar-winning composer A. R. Rahman.
A live-action version of Aladin was a novel update of the classic tale, appealing to adults and kids alike.
Romance was, as always, a popular theme. Amusing romantic comedies like Dil Bole Hadippa! and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani took a light take on love. Luck By Chance and Wake Up Sid, both of which starred talented actress Konkona Sen Sharma, took a more serious approach, addressing the challenges of pursuing career goals while maintaining a healthy relationship.
The best of this year’s romances was Love Aaj Kal. Telling love stories from two different time periods, the movie embraced traditional Bollywood romance conventions while showcasing contemporary relationship issues as well. The entertaining dance numbers will make American viewers feel like they’re getting a real Bollywood experience within a Westernized story structure. The modern relationships showcased in Love Aaj Kal, Luck By Chance and Wake Up Sid represent an important advance for Indian movie makers courting success abroad.
But the Best Bollywood Movie of 2009 has to be 3 Idiots. It’s a great comedy about friendship — with just a hint of romance — that features nuanced performances by Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi. The jokes are funny whether you’re listening to them in Hindi or reading them in English subtitles.
More importantly, 3 Idiots represents a step forward for Indian comedies. Most Hindi comedies released in recent years (excluding romantic comedies) have relied on slapstick humor: childish sound effects, comic violence and chase scenes that defy logic. There’s certainly a place for slapstick in modern cinema, but I don’t think this type of humor plays well in the international markets that Hindi filmmakers are looking to break into.
3 Idiots has its share of silliness, but it’s shown in a more subdued, realistic way that makes the characters relatable. It’s easier for the audience to cheer for the guys in 3 Idiots than for the farcical nincompoops in a movie like Do Knot Disturb (my Worst Bollywood Movie of 2009), because in 3 Idiots they seem like real people. When they succeed, despite being a bit goofy, it gives hope to the rest of us goofballs.
Previous Best Movies List
In the Chicago area this weekend, the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville and the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington are both showing Billu Barber and Delhi-6. The AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago is also carrying Delhi-6 over for a second week.
According to box office returns for the weekend of February 20-22, Delhi-6 earned $602,850 in its opening week in U.S. theaters. Billu Barber earned a total of $698,910 during its first two weeks of release, while Luck By Chance (my favorite of the three movies) has earned only $355,492 after four weeks in theaters. Dev D, which did not open in the Chicago area, has earned a total of only $18,613 after three weeks in theaters.
Shahrukh Khan’s latest film, Billu Barber, opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, February 13. SRK has a cameo role as a movie star who interrupts the life of a barber named Billu (Irrfan Khan).
In the Chicago area, Billu Barber is scheduled to run at the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville and the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, which is also carrying over Luck By Chance for a third week.
3.5 Stars (out of 4)
If any Indian director can become a crossover success in the United States, it will probably be someone from the Akhtar family. Farhan Akhtar updated the movie musical with last year’s Rock On!!, and now his sister, Zoya, shows just how mature and sophisticated Indian storytelling can be in Luck By Chance.
Zoya’s directorial debut follows the careers and personal lives of up-and-coming actors Sona (Konkona Sen Sharma) and Vikram (Farhan Akhtar). As the two navigate their way through auditions and bit roles with titles like “Dead Sister’s Friend”, their struggles prove the adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
The world Sona and Vikram inhabit feels authentic, in part because the characters in Luck By Chance actually talk with one another. In many Bollywood movies, feelings and worldly truths are expressed via extended speeches — and not in the course of normal conversation, as happens in real life. Zoya & Farhan’s father, poet Javed Akhtar, wrote the movie’s dialogue, and he deserves much of the credit for its creative success.
The plot proceeds in unexpected (yet always believable) directions, further separating Luck By Chance from typical Bollywood fare. A smart U.S. distributor would’ve marked this as an Indian arthouse film and targeted it toward Western audiences. As it stands, it may not be in theaters much longer, so I recommend seeing it while you can.
Hitting theaters this weekend is Luck By Chance, a movie about the role luck plays in making Bollywood dreams come true. Produced and written by Fahran Akhtar — and co-written and directed by his sister, Zoya — Luck By Chance is a spiritual successor to Akhtar’s compelling 2008 film Rock On!!, which was about the challenges of making it big in the music industry.
Luck By Chance is only opening in two theaters in the Chicago area: the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. It’s a surprisingly limited release, given that the movie stars high profile actors like Akhtar, Konkona Sen Sharma, Juhi Chawla and Hrithik Roshan.