I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of the Hindi sports drama Penalty, as well as the return of about two dozen Viacom 18 films that had expired from the service over the last several months. Here’s what’s back:
I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with one new addition to the streaming catalog: 2015’s Hawaizaada. This movie got completely overlooked at the box office earlier this year, but it’s really cute. Hindi films are rarely made with kids as the intended audience, and elements of magical realism are equally uncommon in Bollywood movies. By targeting kids and fantasy fans, Hawaizaada reaches out to some under-served demographics. It’s worth a look.
Netflix purged over 20% of its Bollywood streaming catalog this morning, but many of the expunged titles are still available through Netflix on DVD. Click here for a list of the titles that were just booted from streaming.
Only one new Hindi movie is set to open in Chicago area theaters on September 13, 2013, and it looks painful. The bawdy comedy Grand Masti stars Ritesh Deshmukh, Vivek Oberoi, and Aftab Shivdasani as three guys trying to cheat on their wives. If you have to include this many exclamation points in your official plot synopsis, your movie probably isn’t that funny.
Grand Masti opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. (Note: At the showing I attended at the Cantera this morning, the film had no English subtitles.) If you just can’t wait until tomorrow to see Grand Masti, the River East 21 has a pair of showings tonight. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min.
Sadly, John Day isn’t opening in the Chicago area.
Last weekend’s other new release, Zanjeer, carries over at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17. The Golf Glen 5 is holding over the film’s Telugu version, Thoofan, for a second week, but not the Hindi version.
Satyagraha gets a third week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17, having earned $672,951 in the U.S. so far. With total U.S. earnings of $5,220,926, Chennai Express chugs along for a sixth week at the Cantera 17 and South Barrington 30, which also holds over Madras Cafe for fourth week.
Two new Hindi flicks hit Chicago area screens on September 6, 2013. Shuddh Desi Romance (listed at some theaters as “Random Desi Romance“) features rising stars Parineeti Chopra and Sushant Singh Rajput alongside newcomer Vaani Kapoor in a romcom love triangle.
Also new in theaters this weekend is Zanjeer, a remake of the 1973 film of the same name starring Amitabh Bachchan. The remake stars Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra, and Sanjay Dutt.
Zanjeer opens on Friday at the River East 21, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. Its runtime is listed at IMDb as 2 hrs. 17 min. The Golf Glen 5 is also carrying the Telugu version of Zanjeer, Thoofan.
After posting solid earnings of $500,402 over the extended holiday weekend in the U.S., Satyagraha gets a second week at the River East 21, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.
Madras Cafe gets a third weekend at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17.
Chennai Express is still going strong with earnings of $5,122,240 in the U.S. so far. It gets a fifth weekend at the South Barrington 30, Woodridge 18, and Cantera 17.
Madras Cafe vividly depicts the horrors of the Sri Lankan civil war, while providing a glimpse into the complexities of efforts to bring the conflict to an end. The spy story at the core of the film isn’t watertight, but Madras Cafe is stirring nonetheless.
The narrative is bookended by the narration of a former Indian Army officer, Vikram Singh (John Abraham). Struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, Vikram recounts his role in the Sri Lankan civil war to a priest, hoping to ease the guilt from multiple deaths he was unable to prevent.
Flashing back to several years earlier, Vikram is sent to Jaffna, a city in northern Sri Lanka, to work with Indian intelligence agents to influence local elections in the hopes of ending the civil war through political reconciliation. This proves difficult not only because Anna (Ajay Rathnam), the leader of a militant separatist group, doesn’t trust the Indian government’s promises to protect the rights of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka, but also because there is a mole working within the intelligence service.
Because of the complex nature of the conflict and the different factions operating with opposing goals, there are a lot of people and places to keep track of. This doesn’t pose a huge problem in following the story, but rather it highlights the impossibility of Vikram’s task. With none of the parties willing to compromise or trust one another, Vikram seems to be risking his life even though he has no hope of success.
The second half of Madras Cafe focuses on an assassination plot targeting a former Indian prime minister running for reelection on the promise to end the war in Sri Lanka. It’s revealed early on that the plot is successful, so the events show Vikram and other government agents as they try (and fail) to stop the assassination.
This portion of the story isn’t nearly as detailed as the events of the first half, to its detriment. It’s not entirely clear who is driving the assassination plot or why, apart from scenes of secret meetings in London’s Madras Cafe between Anna’s representatives and agents from “the West.” The movie doesn’t attempt to explain why Western governments would support the militants in opposition to an Indian government trying to stop a war in a neighboring country. This may be common knowledge to those familiar with the details of the real-life conflict, but a few lines of explanation wouldn’t have slowed the story.
The other disappointing aspects of the plots involving Westerners is that the characters who speak strictly in English sound as though they are reading their lines from cue cards. That goes for American actress Nargis Fakhri, as well. Fakhri plays Jaya, a British journalist who is nothing more than a plot device.
Abraham is good as Vikram, but his performance is too subdued. Abraham’s strongest role in the film is as its producer, where he again shows a knack for choosing interesting stories.
The depictions of the brutality of war are Madras Cafe‘s strongest suit. There’s a lot of blood and a high body count in the film, which is important for impressing upon the audience the horror of a civil war that lasted nearly thirty years and cost tens of thousands of lives. This is definitely not a film for the whole family.
The film’s score is understated and appropriate for the grim imagery. There are no song-and-dance numbers, which would’ve felt out-of-place. Though not flawless, Madras Cafe respects its audience and provides plenty of material for further reflection. It’s a film worth seeing.