Tag Archives: M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story

Movie Review: Kedarnath (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Two lovers on opposite sides of a religious and class divide fall in love just before their world falls apart in Kedarnath. The compelling central romance is eclipsed by a well-executed disaster sequence based on the tragic floods of June, 2013, which destroyed much of Kedarnath and killed thousands.

Mansoor (Sushant Singh Rajput) works as a porter, ferrying Hindu pilgrims and their belongings up the winding mountain path to Kedarnath Temple. He and the other Muslim porters and shopkeepers have a history of cooperation with the Hindu innkeepers, allowing everyone to make a steady living during the six months of the year that the temple is accessible.

An upstart Hindu landowner, Kullu (Nishant Dahiya), sees profit in building a fancy new hotel in the valley, increasing the number of pilgrims and displacing a number of shopkeepers in the process. Mansoor — whose mother’s shop would be demolished to make way for the hotel — argues that more buildings and pilgrims could put the infrastructure of the whole valley at risk. Briraaj (Nitish Bharadwaj), a Hindu priest, appreciates Mansoor’s dedication to Kedarnath despite not being a Hindu himself.

That appreciation only extends so far, however. Briraaj isn’t about to let his younger daughter, Mukku (Sara Ali Khan), date a Muslim. Mansoor’s relationship with her exposes simmering inter-religious divisions and provides a pretext for violence, led by Kullu, who’s engaged to Mukku after dumping her older sister, Brinda (the beautiful Pooja Gor). The floods hit before the town can erupt into full-scale riots.

Khan shows poise and charisma in her first film role, but Mukku is problematic. She has a lot in common with stereotypical Bollywood man-child protagonists in that she’s immature and unable to see things from other’s perspectives. She has no regard for how her romance with Mansoor affects him, his family, or the other Muslims in the valley, so confident is she that her desires are right simply because she desires them.

Unlike the typical man-child protagonist character arc in which he finds a woman who makes him aware of the world and his role in it, Mukku’s worldview doesn’t change. Her position as the privileged daughter of a powerful man makes her overestimate her ability to shape her world to her will. If she’s just persistent enough, she can break down Mansoor’s barriers and make him fall in love with her. That same persistence will get her out of her engagement to Kullu, she believes. She’s even convinced that she can influence cricket matches and the weather.

Having been mostly insulated from negative consequences thus far, Mukku fails to account for all of the other factors that influence the events in her life, like the desires of other people, the lucky bounce of a cricket ball, and the randomness of a natural disaster. Mukku’s arrogance makes one question whether, from a narrative standpoint, her star-crossed romance with Mansoor is a worthy enough endeavor to balance the deaths of thousands in raging floodwaters.

That balance undermines the vibrant romantic tension conjured by Khan and Rajput. This is Rajput’s most charming performance in years after lackluster outings in M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story and Raabta, a reminder of how good he can be in the right role. It would be fun to see these two leads pair up again in the future after Khan gains more acting experience.

Director Abhishek Kapoor successfully blends practical effects with computer generated ones in Kedarnath‘s climactic disaster, with Rajput and Khan battling treacherous waters in thrilling sequences. The rarity of Bollywood disaster movies is perhaps reason enough to watch Kedarnath, coupled with the intrigued of a star scion’s debut (Khan’s father is Saif Ali Khan). If only the central romance matched the film’s spectacle.

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Streaming Video News: September 24, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a few upcoming expiration dates. Akira, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, and the Assamese movie Kothanodi all leave Netflix on October 1, 2018. M.S. Dhoni was just okay, and Akira — aka Naam Hai Akira — was awful, so their departure isn’t a devastating loss.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with several new titles, including the improv comedy special Go Straight Take Left and the 2018 Hindi release Nawabzaade, starring ABCD‘s Dharmesh Yelande and Punit Pathak.

Streaming Video News: March 31, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with six new additions to the catalog. Older films like 2006’s Baabul and 2011’s Yamla Pagla Deewana (which was too self-referential) were added along with three movies from last year: Azhar, M.S. Dhoni — The Untold Story, and Akira, which released in US theaters as Naam Hai Akira. The Dhoni biopic was just okay, the Azhar biopic wasn’t great either, and Akira was just bad. The most intriguing new addition is the 2015 reality show The House That Made Me, in which actor Vinay Pathak interviews celebrities like Govinda, Remo D’Souza, and Irrfan Khan in their hometowns.

For everything else (Bollywood or not) new on Netflix, check Instant Watcher.

Bollywood Box Office: November 4-6, 2016

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil dominated the North American box office for a second consecutive weekend. From November 4-6, 2016, ADHM earned $772,956 from 325 theaters ($2,378 average), bringing its total earnings after ten days to $3,516,129.

After opening to disappointing numbers, Shivaay held over reasonably well in its second weekend, retaining 42% of its first-weekend business. It earned $140,347 from 87 theaters ($1,613 average), bringing its ten-day total to $599,932.

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story hung around for a sixth weekend in one theater, earning $127 to bring its total to $1,824,969.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: October 28-30, 2016

Two big Diwali releases met very different fates at the North American box office during the weekend of October 28-30, 2016. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was a resounding success, taking in $2,091,290 from 331 theaters ($6,318 average). That’s already good enough for fourth place in North America for the year. Though Sultan‘s chart-topping $6 million total is out of reach, lifetime earnings in excess of $5 million are possible for ADHM if interest remains high. Even if business drops off quickly, $4 million is doable.

Moviegoers gave the cold shoulder to Ajay Devgn’s mountaineering thriller Shivaay, the weekend’s other new film. Opening in fewer than half as many theaters as ADHM — 143, to be exact — Shivaay earned just $332,423 ($2,325 average). That’s only the year’s 18th best opening weekend gross, despite Shivaay releasing into the ninth highest number of theaters (the same number of theaters as Baar Baar Dekho, which earned more than $600,000 its first weekend).

Karan Johar romantic dramas are as sure a bet in the United States and Canada as you’ll find. North America contributed almost 20% of ADHM‘s $11+ million worldwide total. In contrast, the US and Canada accounted for about 5% of Shivaay‘s $6 million global total. Knowing how much attention ADHM was going to get here, would it have been advisable to employ Hollywood’s international release strategy to Shivaay, preponing or postponing its North American release by a week? Heck, even opening it on Wednesday might have earned another $100,000. I don’t know if such a strategy would be feasible — though I reject piracy as a reason, since those people wouldn’t pay to go to the theater anyway — but it would certainly have allowed Shivaay to save face, if nothing else.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • M.S. Dhoni: Week 5; $3,153 from six theaters; $526 average; $1,823,682 total
  • Pink: Week 7; $702 from one theater; $1,248,883 total
  • 31st October: Week 2; $261 from two theaters; $131 average; $8,490 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening October 28: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Shivaay

The Diwali releases are here to save what has been a lackluster October at the North American box office. Director Karan Johar’s romance, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (“This Heart is Complicated“) — starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Fawad Khan — gets the wider release of the two new Bollywood films opening in the Chicago area on October 28, 2016.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil — which has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 38 min. — opens on Friday in eleven local theaters (two more theaters than Fan or Sultan):

The weekend’s other new release is the action adventure Shivaay, starring and directed by Ajay Devgn.

Shivaay opens on Friday at the Chicago Showplace Icon, River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 49 min.

The only older Hindi films carrying over are 31st October at MovieMax and M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story at the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

  • Kaashmora (Tamil and Telugu, both w/English subtitles) at MovieMax, Rosemont 18, Stratford Square, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, and Marcus Addison (Telugu only)
  • Ism (Telugu w/English subtitles) at Seven Bridges
  • Kodi (Tamil), Pulimurugan (Malayalam), and Oppam (Malayalam) at MovieMax

Bollywood Box Office: October 21-23, 2016

There’s a reason why studios and distributors don’t release movies the weekend before a major holiday: nobody goes to the theater. Case in point, the weekend of October 21-23, 2016 (the weekend before Diwali). The five Hindi films showing in North American theaters — including one new release — earned a combined total of just $31,223.

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story accounted for the lion’s share of the above total, earning $18,952 from nineteen theaters ($997 average). Its total after four weekends in North American theaters is $1,816,166. It may stick around for a fifth weekend in a few theaters, but its run is just about over.

Pink closed out its sixth weekend with $6,409 from six theaters ($1,068 average). Its total of $1,246,384 ranks it in ninth place for the year in North America.

The lone new release — 31st October — only managed to finish in third place for the weekend, with $5,625 from seventeen theaters ($331 average). It’s one of the rare instances of a Hindi film opening in more theaters in Canada than the United States: ten in Canada versus seven in the US. Not that it mattered. 31st October had the third worst opening weekend of the year.

Mirzya closed out its third week with $209 from one American theater. Its final total is $84,035: 29th place for the year, after releasing into the 14th highest number of theaters. Ack.

Last on the list is MSG The Warrior: Lion Heart, which earned $29 from one Canadian theater. Until now, I’d never seen a movie in its second weekend of release earn less than 1% of what it earned in its first weekend. Kudos, MSG 3. It closes out its theatrical run with total North American earnings of $4,243.

October 28 can’t get here fast enough.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening October 21: 31st October

Well, heck. Because of the profiles of the films scheduled for release, I didn’t expect any new Hindi movies to open in the Chicago area in the two weeks before Diwali weekend. Two weeks in a row, I’ve been wrong. The historical drama 31st October opens at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles on October 21, 2016.

Given that 31st October is only releasing in one Chicago area theater, that means it’s probably getting a really limited release across the continent: fewer than thirty theaters, for sure. Taking that into account, I’d be surprised if it makes even $20,000 over the weekend.

The only other Hindi film showing locally is M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington.

Other Indian films playing in Chicago area theaters:

Bollywood Box Office: October 14-16, 2016

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh likes to tout the records he achieves, but he might not want to brag about his latest: 2016’s worst opening weekend per-theater average for a Hindi film in North America. Singh’s new vanity project — MSG The Warrior: Lion Heart — earned a grand total of $3,353 from 23 theaters during the weekend of October 14-16, 2016. That’s a per-theater average of $146 for a whole weekend’s worth of shows. MSGTW:LH safely bested Loveshhuda‘s lowest opening weekend gross of $1,399, but that film only released in eight theaters, starred a couple of noobs, and wasn’t the third in a series.

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story had the best weekend of any of the Hindi films still in theaters, earning another $78,995 from 79 theaters ($1,000 average). Its total stands at $1,779,768, ranking it in sixth place for the year.

In its fifth weekend, Pink earned $13,512 from twelve theaters ($1,126 average). That amount plus its weekday earnings were enough to push it past Udta Punjab into tenth place for the year, with total earnings of $1,236,038. It needs just $3,736 to wrest ninth place from Mohenjo Daro.

Mirzya‘s business fell by 92% in its second weekend, with earnings of $4,200 from fifteen theaters ($280 average). More than thirty percent of its $82,801 total came from a handful of Canadian theaters: sixteen theaters in the film’s opening weekend and six in its second weekend.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

In Theaters: October 14, 2016

Well, I guess I was wrong about no new Indian films opening in the Chicago area before October 28. A week after its Indian theatrical release, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles is picking up MSG: The Warrior Lion Heart, the third film by controversial religious figure Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Enjoy this delightful plot synopsis from the film’s Wikipedia page.

The story is about a medieval warrior who fights for the honor of his land and the dignity of the womenfolk. The story travels centuries apart as he emerges in another role as a modern Indian equivalent of James Bond, a stylish top secret agent. The marauding aliens run amok, as they are hundreds of years ahead in technology. Lionheart is their only stumbling block in their march to overpower planet Earth.

I didn’t think things could get much crazier than the original MSG, but I guess I underestimated the self-styled Saint. Feast your eyes upon the trailer for MSG: The Warrior Lion Heart, which opens on Friday at MovieMax.

Besides MSG 3, what other Hindi films are showing in Chicago during the weekend beginning October 14, 2016? M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story has the biggest foothold locally, carrying over for a third week at MovieMax, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

MovieMax and the South Barrington 30 also hold over Pink and Mirzya, which is worth seeing on the big screen because of how pretty it looks and to hear its amazing soundtrack on a good speaker system.

Other Indian films still in Chicago area theaters:

If you’ve already exhausted your theatrical options, check out my up-to-date lists of Indian films available for streaming in the United States on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.