Tag Archives: Movie

Opening January 24: Panga and Street Dancer 3

Two new Hindi films open in Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning January 24, 2020. Bareilly Ki Barfi director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari returns with the kabbadi drama Panga, starring Kangana Ranaut, Jassi Gill, and Richa Chadda.

Panga opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 11 min. Its streaming partner is Hotstar.

Also new this weekend is Street Dancer 3 (as it’s being called here; in India it’s Street Dancer 3D). It was originally planned as a sequel to ABCD 2 before changing production houses. Thus, Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor return for Street Dancer 3, but as different characters.

Street Dancer 3 opens Friday at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, AMC Dine-In Rosemont 12 in Rosemont, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min. Its streaming partner is Amazon Prime.

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior carries over for a third week at MovieMax, Niles 12, South Barrington 24, Cantera, Naperville 16, and Woodridge 18.

Chhapaak also gets a third week at MovieMax, while the South Barrington 24 holds over Good Newwz for a fifth week.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2019

While my Best Bollywood Movies of 2019 list is dominated by action flicks, my Worst Bollywood Movies of 2019 list is mostly made up of comedies that aren’t funny.

The first of those is Khandaani Shafakhana, starring Sonakshi Sinha as a sex clinic operator. It has some nice moments but is undone by a sequence in which a character played by Varun Sharma repeatedly uses homophobic slurs in a failed attempt at humor.

Diljit Dosanjh’s cop spoof Arjun Patiala also has potential until it takes a dark turn — only none of the characters seem to realize it and keep acting as if it’s still a lighthearted romp. Kriti Sanon plays a reporter reluctant to investigate a string of murders she suspects were orchestrated by her police officer boyfriend (Dosanjh). It’s hard to make such a premise funny.

Sanon plays a reporter again in the romantic comedy Luka Chuppi, in which she and a colleague played by Kartik Aaryan clumsily try to hide their live-in relationship. The subject matter gives it a veneer of progressiveness, but it’s cut from the same conservative, chauvinistic cloth as umpteen other Bollywood romcoms.

The biggest disappointment among the unfunny comedies is the road trip heist flick Total Dhamaal. With an ensemble cast that includes Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Boman Irani, Ajay Devgn, and Sanjay Mishra, you’d expect laughs from start to finish. But writer-director Indra Kumar’s disorganized reboot of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is boring, with repetitive, stale gags.

The top spot on this year’s Worst Bollywood Movies list is not a comedy but a very problematic drama. Kabir Singh — a remake of the Telugu film Arjun Reddy — is either remarkably oblivious to its main character’s sociopathic tendencies, or it thinks his actions are okay. The hero assaults and threatens women with violence repeatedly throughout the movie, including an attempt to rape a woman at knife-point in the first ten minutes. You can’t make a hero like that sympathetic, especially when he doesn’t feel remorse for what he’s done.

One of the troubling sentiments I’ve seen online is the belief that the Kabir Singh‘s box office success validates the film’s moral viewpoint. There are plenty of movies throughout history that were hits when they released that contemporary audiences would find abhorrent. Kabir Singh will be one of those movies someday — hopefully sooner rather than later.

Kathy’s Worst Bollywood Movies of 2019

  1. Kabir Singh — Stream on Netflix
  2. Total Dhamaal — Buy at Amazon/stream on Hotstar
  3. Luka Chuppi — Buy at Amazon/stream on Netflix
  4. Arjun Patiala — Stream on Prime
  5. Khandaani Shafakhana — Stream on Prime

Previous Worst Movies Lists

[Disclaimer: my Amazon and iTunes links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Best Bollywood Movies of 2019

It’s time for my annual roundup of the year’s best Hindi films. I need to start with a caveat, in anticipation of any comments asking why certain movies didn’t make my list. Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law died in 2019, and I missed seeing a bunch of movies, especially those released in the first half of the year. I’m particularly disappointed to have missed Sonchiriya, since I’ve read many good things about it. It only ran in North American theaters for two weeks in March before heading to the streaming service Zee5 — which isn’t available in the United States. It’s not available for digital purchase or on DVD here either, so there’s no legal way for me to catch up on it. I’m sure there are other 2019 releases that I would have enjoyed that I also missed out on.

That said, 2019 was a fantastic year for action movie buffs like me, so let’s get to it!

What better place to start than with my favorite martial artist Vidyut Jammwal’s family-friendly eco-thriller Junglee. This is a rare Hindi film directed by an American: Chuck Russell, best known for the Jim Carrey hit, The Mask. While most Indian productions lean heavily on computer-generated effects to create animals on-screen, Russell had Jammwal and the rest of the cast interact with live elephants. It adds an element of awe that reinforces the story’s messages of conservation and respect for nature. And Jammwal’s excellent stunts are always a ton of fun.

India’s submission to the 92nd Academy Awards — Gully Boy — certainly deserved the honor, even if it failed to make the shortlist for the Oscars (not that any film can beat Parasite). Director Zoya Akhtar’s story of a young Muslim man voicing his generation’s frustrations through the medium of rap is timely and relevant, but also a great example of character creation and world-building.

Another of the action flicks on this year’s list is the thrill ride War. With world-class stunts and fight choreography — and a totally unexpected romantic undercurrent between characters played by Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff — War is a Bollywood action flick you could easily share with your non-Bollywood watching friends.

Speaking of Bollywood films for non-Bollywood watchers, the best of the year in that regard was the thriller Article 15. I recommended it to several acquaintances outside my Hindi-film circle, and all of them went to the theater to see it and really enjoyed it. Some readers have asked me if Bollywood movies can ever find crossover success in America, and to that end, Article 15 shows the value of having an English title and a plot that’s easy to describe. Oh, and it has to be a darned good movie as well, which Article 15 definitely is.

Given the theme of this year’s list, it’s no surprise that my favorite Hindi movie of 2019 is yet another action film, albeit an unconventional one. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (“The Man Who Feels No Pain“) — which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018 but didn’t play in Indian theaters until March, 2019, followed by a May Netflix release in the United States — features a hero raised on a diet of old martial arts movies who doesn’t have an ounce of cynicism. He believes that the good guys really can beat the bad guys. It’s a fun, goofy movie with a ton of heart, lots of flying kicks, and wonderful performances by newcomer Abhimanyu Dassani, Pataakha‘s Radhika Madan, Mahesh Manjrekar, Jimit Trivedi, and Gulshan Devaiah in my favorite double role of all time. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota makes me incredibly happy.

Kathy’s Best Bollywood Movies of 2019

  1. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes/stream on Netflix
  2. Article 15 — Stream on Netflix
  3. War — Buy at Amazon/stream on Prime
  4. Gully Boy — Stream on Prime
  5. Junglee — Buy at Amazon/stream on Hotstar

Previous Best Movies Lists

[Disclaimer: my Amazon and iTunes links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Opening January 10: Chhappak and Tanhaji

It’s a busy weekend for Indian films in the Chicago area, including two new Hindi releases opening January 10, 2020. First is Raazi director Meghna Gulzar’s acid attack survivor drama Chhappak, starring Deepika Padukone and Vikrant Massey.

Chhappak opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 2 min. Its streaming partner is Hotstar.

The weekend’s other new release is the period action film Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, starring Ajay Devgn, Kajol, and Saif Ali Khan.

Tanhaji opens Friday at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, Naperville 16, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min. Its streaming partner is also Hotstar.

Good Newwz carries over for a third week at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Woodridge 18.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Opening December 20: Dabangg 3

Chulbul Pandey faces his toughest challenge yet — taking on a Star Wars film at the box office. Dabangg 3 opens on December 20, 2019, in 294 theaters across North America, with 8 of those in the Chicago area.

Dabangg 3 opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, AMC Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, Regal Round Lake Beach in Round Lake Beach, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. Its streaming partner is Amazon Prime, and it has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

Mardaani 2 gets a second week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera.

Pati Patni Aur Woh carries over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24, which also holds onto Panipat.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Manikarnika vs. The Warrior Queen of Jhansi

2019 has seen two theatrical releases about legendary revolutionary Rani Lakshmibai hit North American theaters: Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi and the international production The Warrior Queen of Jhansi. Warrior Queen completed its principal photography almost a year before Manikarnika, yet even with extensive re-shoots, Manikarnika debuted nearly nine months ahead of Warrior Queen. How do these two different versions of the same story compare?

Manikarnika is truly an epic. Its battles are large in scale, with lots of extras and horses and smoky battlefields. Ranaut gets a number of slow-motion shots as Manikarnika rallies her troops and dodges her enemies’ swords. Warrior Queen‘s battles are by contrast drab and sparsely populated, opting for realism over awe-inspiring visuals. The film highlights just how beaten down the British troops and Indian revolutionaries are from years of fighting, so nothing moves especially quickly. It’s an effective choice given what the story wants to emphasize.

The looks of the films are governed by their differing agendas and target audiences. Manikarnika‘s protagonist is depicted as an Indian national hero and martyr. Her glorious battles and fiery rhetoric are meant to stoke the fires of patriotism. With an A-list actress like Ranaut in the lead role and notable supporting actors from various industries, Manikarnika aims to appeal to a wide swath of Indian film fans.

Warrior Queen takes a more global approach. The biggest names in the film are British screen veterans Derek Jacobi, Rupert Everett, and Nathanial Parker, with comparatively unknown Indian-American actress Devika Bhise (who co-wrote the screenplay with her producer-director mother, Swati) in the title role. The story paints Lakshmibai as a progressive feminist pioneer who refused to accept the social limitations of caste and gender while fighting capitalist aggression.

Despite aiming for a wider, less diaspora-dependent audience, Warrior Queen fared much worse than Manikarnika in its opening weekend in North American theaters. Warrior Queen opened in 276 theaters on November 15 and earned $112,208, for an average of $406 per theater. Manikarnika released into just 152 theaters on January 25 but earned $571,130, or $3,757 per theater.

It’s safe to say that The Warrior Queen of Jhansi had quite a bit working against it, coming out less than a year after a big budget Bollywood version of the same story which is currently available for at-home viewing on Amazon Prime. On top of that, the title may not have drawn in the Victoria & Abdul crowd (i.e. white seniors who enjoy British costume dramas) as easily as if it had been called something more generic — maybe “India’s Warrior Queen” or something like that. Would Warrior Queen have fared better with an earlier release date or slightly different title? Maybe. I found both films to be similarly enjoyable given their differing styles and objectives.

Opening November 1: Ujda Chaman

I don’t know why Ujda Chaman — the Hindi remake of the Kannada film Ondu Motteya Kathe (which is on Netflix) — is opening in Chicago area theaters on November 1, 2019. Housefull 4 ate Saand Ki Aankh‘s and Made in China‘s lunch last weekend. This isn’t going to go well.

Ujda Chaman opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, and AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hours and heads to Amazon Prime when its theatrical run ends.

Housefull 4 continues to dominate the local market, carrying over at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Regal Round Lake Beach in Round Lake Beach, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Saand Ki Aankh gets a second week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Woodridge 18, and Cantera, which is the only theater holding over War.

Made in China sticks around at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Bollywood Box Office: October 25-27, 2019

It’s no surprise that Housefull 4 came out on top among this year’s trio of Diwali releases. From October 25-27, 2019, the comedy sequel earned $904,808 from 315 theaters ($2,872 average) in North America, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s not a particularly robust per-theater average, so we’re probably looking at a final total short of $3 million.

The other two new releases wilted against the competition. Saand Ki Aankh earned $101,900 from 204 theaters ($500 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. Made in China was just behind with $72,349 from 95 theaters ($762 average).

War still raged in its fourth weekend of release, earning $80,866 from 59 theaters ($1,371 average), bringing its total to $4,566,986.

Other Hindi and multilingual releases still in North American theaters:

  • The Sky Is Pink: Week 3; $10,741 from 14 theaters; $767 average; $713,682 total
  • Dream Girl: Week 7; $5,786 from seven theaters; $827 average; $2,332,417 total
  • Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy: Week 4; $924 from four theaters; $231 average; $2,622,634 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Opening October 25: Housefull 4, Saand Ki Aankh, and Made in China

Diwali weekend brings a trio of new Hindi films to Chicago area theaters on October 25, 2019. The widest release of the three goes to the latest entry in the Housefull movie franchise: Housefull 4 — noteworthy because the average age difference between the film’s male leads and their female love interests is 18.67 years.

Housefull 4 opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Round Lake Beach in Round Lake Beach, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, and AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 10 min. and heads to Hotstar once its theatrical run ends.

Next up is the biographical drama Saand Ki Aankh (“Bull’s Eye“), in which Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu play sexagenarian sharpshooters Chandro and Prakashi Tomar, respectively.

Saand Ki Aankh opens Friday at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Marcus Addison, Cantera, Woodridge 18, and AMC Niles 12 in Niles. It has runtime of 2 hrs. 26 min. Saand Ki Aankh‘s streaming partner is Zee5.

Finally, we have the comedy Made in China, starring Rajkummar Rao, Mouni Roy, and Boman Irani.

Made in China opens Friday at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, and Woodridge 18. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min. It’s heading to JioCinema after its theatrical run ends.

War carries over for a fourth week at the Regal Round Lake Beach, South Barrington 24, Cantera, and Woodridge 18.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Bollywood Box Office: October 18-20, 2019

In its third weekend of release, War became the second highest earning Hindi film of 2019 in North America. From October 18-20, the action thriller earned $364,907 from 192 theaters ($1,901 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. Its $4,355,621 total is still more than $1 million behind this year’s leader, Gully Boy.

The Sky Is Pink took in $125,645 from 194 theaters ($648 average) in its second weekend, bringing its total to $645,272.

Other Hindi/multilingual films still in North American theaters:

  • Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy: Week 3; $33,667 from 50 theaters; $673 average; $2,613,851 total
  • Dream Girl: Week 6; $22,358 from 18 theaters; $1,242 average; $2,317,535 total

Sources: 143 Cinema and Bollywood Hungama