Tag Archives: Naam Shabana

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2017

As I mentioned in my Best Bollywood Movies of 2017 post, I liked many more 2017 releases than I disliked. That means that fewer of the movies on this year’s “Worst of” list are ones that I absolutely couldn’t stand, compared to previous years.

Take, for example, Noor, Naam Shabana, and Running Shaadi. I gave all of them 2-Star ratings, which means I only sort of didn’t like them. I just happened to like these three the least of all the movies I also rated 2 Stars. However, the seven other titles on the list did more than enough to earn their spots.

Several films had problems with the way they depicted their female characters, particularly in the way male characters controlled women’s bodies. Kriti Sanon’s character in Raabta was treated like an object, pushed and pulled at will by the men in her life. The title character in Badrinath Ki Dulhania tossed his girlfriend in the trunk of his car before choking her. Arjun Kapoor’s character in Half Girlfriend literally wouldn’t let go of Shraddha Kapoor’s character when she tried to get away from him.

Kaabil was the most egregiously sexist movie of this bunch, creating a capable, independent female lead — played by Yami Gautam — for the sole purpose of raping and killing her as motivation for Hrithik Roshan’s character to seek revenge. It’s a classic example of the “Women in Refrigerators” trope.

Other movies on the “Worst of” list were just poorly made. Like its 2013 predecessor, Fukrey, the comedy Fukrey Returns simply wasn’t funny. Baadshaho forgot what story it was telling along the way, resulting in an abrupt ending that leaves every important question unanswered.

My pick for the Worst Bollywood Movie of 2017 was the biggest offender in terms of bad filmmaking: Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai. The unfocused story tried to address every important contemporary social issue, reaching its ridiculous apex when Manjari Fadnis’ feminist activist journalist character is randomly tasked with coordinating refugee medical care in a Middle Eastern war zone. The film’s third act is supposed to take place in Manhattan but was clearly filmed in Maryland (part of it was shot in Top Chef season 6 runner-up Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant in Frederick). There’s unintentionally hilarious dialog, as when Fadnis’ character responds to a heckler’s “Nice ass, honey,” with “Yes, we have a nice ass, and we are proud of it.

The pièce de résistance is a song number that features Manjari Fadnis dancing in outer space:

I fear that Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai will go the way of goofy 2014 Worst Movie runner-up Karle Pyaar Karle and disappear, never to be seen again either on DVD or streaming. It’s kind of a shame, since Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai is so damned wacky, one almost has to see it to believe it. Almost.

Check my Netflix and Amazon Prime pages to see which of these movies are available for streaming in the United States.

Kathy’s Ten Worst Bollywood Movies of 2017

  1. Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai
  2. Kaabil
  3. Half Girlfriend
  4. Baadshaho — Buy at Amazon
  5. Badrinath Ki Dulhania — Buy at Amazon
  6. Fukrey Returns
  7. Raabta — Buy at Amazon
  8. Running Shaadi — Buy at Amazon
  9. Naam Shabana — Buy at Amazon
  10. Noor — Buy at Amazon

Previous Worst Movies Lists

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Bollywood Box Office: May 5-7, 2017

Having passed Dangal as the top-earning Indian film in North America of all time before the end of its first week of release, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion padded its lead during its second weekend in theaters. From May 5-7, 2017, the fantasy epic earned another $3,390,132 from 430 theaters ($7,884 average; adjusted average of $8,110 from 418 theaters*), finishing in seventh place overall for the weekend. Its combined total from all languages is $16,350,570. Baahubali 2‘s second weekend total is about a third of what it earned during its opening weekend, which is good even by normal standards but especially when considering that its ticket prices dropped at the start of its second week of release (not to mention there were no more pricey IMAX showings over the weekend).

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Begum Jaan: Week 4; $2,200 from five theaters; $440 average; $126,828 total
  • Naam Shabana: Week 6; $86 from one theater; $262,843 total
  • Noor: Week 3; $80 from one theater; $79,373 total

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: April 28-30, 2017

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion‘s opening weekend was absolutely massive, finishing in third place in the overall North American box office for the weekend of April 28-30, 2017. According to Gitesh Pandya: “No Indian film has ever opened this high on the U.S. box office chart before.” Baahubali 2‘s final weekend tally supplied to Bollywood Hungama by Rentrak was $10,392,055 from 431 theaters for an average of $24,111 per theater. Pandya noted that the 45 IMAX screens showing Baahubali 2 contributed $1.8 million to the total with average earnings of $40,000 per screen! Pandya tweeted that 66% of earnings came from the Telugu version of the movie, 22% from the Hindi version, and 13% from the Tamil version.

The small caveat to all the celebrations is that ticket prices for Baahubali 2 are higher than those charged for Hindi films in the United States in Canada, ranging from approximately $15-40, depending on language, date, and format (versus an estimated average ticket price of just under $9 in North America in 2017). With those higher ticket prices, Sumit Chadha notes on Twitter that Baahubali 2 need only sell a quarter of the number of tickets to surpass Dangal — which earned $12.3 million total here — as the highest earning Indian movie in North America.

That said, Baahubali 2 has set a new benchmark for what an Indian film can achieve under the right circumstances — and with proper promotion. Just getting Baahubali 2 into IMAX theaters created extra hype, making it seem like a must-see movie. Let’s see what lessons Indian studios and international distributors learn from Baahubali‘s success.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Noor: Week 2; $7,202 from 20 theaters; $360 average; $77,910 total
  • Begum Jaan: Week 3; $4,609 from seven theaters; $658 average; $122,324 total
  • Naam Shabana: Week 5; $244 from four theaters; $61 average; $262,698 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Gitesh Pandya, and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: April 21-23, 2017

Sonakshi Sinha’s Noor failed to make an impact at North American box office. From April 21-23, 2017, the comedy earned $49,595 from 69 theaters ($719 average; adjusted average of $840 from 59 theaters*). While we’ve seen more disastrous opening weekends this year, Noor‘s low per-theater average indicates that distributors expected a better turnout. This is the type of scenario I was thinking of when I wrote last week about why Begum Jaan‘s opening weekend earnings were good in relative terms.

Speaking of Begum Jaan, it took in $15,397 from seventeen theaters ($906 average) in its second weekend, bringing its North American total to $109,664.

In its seventh weekend of release, Badrinath Ki Dulhania finally squeaked past $2 million in the United States and Canada. It earned another $1,556 from three theaters ($519 average), bringing its total to $2,000,285.

Naam Shabana closed out its fourth weekend with $730 from four theaters ($183 average). Its total stands at $262,303.

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: April 14-16, 2017

The headline for Bollywood Hungama’s latest international box office report — “‘Begum Jaan’ fails to shine in the overseas” — is a bit misleading in regard to how the movie fared in North America during its opening weekend of April 14-16, 2017. From just 34 theaters*, Begum Jaan earned $65,812, for an average of $1,936. While that total may not look like much compared to those of Bollywood movies that open on 100+ screens here, it’s big relative to other films with a similar theatrical footprint.

Median opening weekend earnings for the six Hindi films that released in fewer than 60 North American theaters this year are about $12,000. The best performance prior to Begum Jaan was by Commando 2, which opened with earnings of $40,611 from 49 theaters (40 adjusted). Begum Jaan not only improved on Commando 2‘s total by about 60%, its per-theater average of $1,936 was also substantially greater than Commando 2‘s $829 average ($1,015 adjusted). For a movie that is the definition of a niche film — Vidya Balan plays a madam in a historical drama — Begum Jaan did pretty well in its first weekend. It will likely be the first Hindi film of 2017 to open in fewer than 60 theaters to ultimately earn more than $100,000 in North America.

The weekend’s big winner was the new Punjabi film Manje Bistre, which earned $241,971 from 39 American theaters ($6,204 average) and $385,147 from nineteen Canadian theaters ($20,271 average!).

Other Bollywood movies still showing in North America:

  • Naam Shabana: Week 3; $4,756 from eleven theaters; $432 average; $260,191 total
  • Badrinath Ki Dulhania: Week 6; $4,425 from four theaters; $1,106 average; $1,997,701 total
  • Phillauri: Week 4; $3,988 from three theaters; $1,329 average; $471,522 total

* Unlike my standard weekly caveat about Bollywood Hungama counting Canadian theaters twice, it looks like they got it right for Begum Jaan! Of course, that messes up all of my data which relies upon theater numbers being wrong in a consistent way, but whatever.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening April 14: Begum Jaan

One new Bollywood movie makes a limited debut in Chicago area theaters on April 14, 2017. The historical drama Begum Jaan stars Vidya Balan as a madam whose brothel falls right along the Partition line.

Begum Jaan opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 9 min. (Programming note: Since Begum Jaan isn’t showing in a theater near me, I won’t review it this weekend. I will post a new review of another movie I really liked on Friday, so stay tuned.)

The only other Hindi film showing locally this Easter weekend is Naam Shabana, which carries over for a third week at Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include:

Bollywood Box Office: April 7-9, 2017

It was a slow weekend at the North American box office, and Bollywood films fared just as poorly as everything else. Here’s how the four Hindi titles left in theaters performed during the weekend of April 7-9, 2017:

  • Naam Shabana: Week 2; $40,385 from 51 theaters; $792 average; $241,919 total
  • Phillauri: Week 3; $18,814 from 16 theaters; $1,179 average; $459,213 total
  • Badrinath Ki Dulhania: Week 5; $13,283 from 13 theaters; $1,022 average; $1,989,132 total
  • MSG Lion Heart 2: Week 5; $1,536 from one theater; $6,243 total

One interesting note from the weekend is how differently the movies fared in the United States and Canada. Naam Shabana was the highest earner in the US, followed by Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Phillauri, in that order. Yet Phillauri earned the most in Canada, followed by Naam Shabana and Badrinath Ki Dulhania. Oh, and then that one random theater showing MSG Lion Heart 2.

Box Office Mojo described this as “a placeholder weekend” in North American, as moviegoers stayed home in anticipation of Friday’s release of The Fate of the Furious. Bollywood fans don’t have their own high-profile release to look forward to. There’s a chance that Friday’s new Hindi movie — Vidya Balan’s Begum Jaan — might not even open here. Even if it does, a historical drama about a brothel owner is a niche title with limited potential, regardless of how good it is. Plenty of businesses and the majority of schools across the US will be closed Friday ahead of Easter on Sunday, and not having a big commercial Hindi release in theaters is a missed opportunity.

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

In Theaters: April 7, 2017

No new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area on Friday, April 7, 2017, and there’s little left to choose from. Last weekend’s new release — Naam Shabana — gets a second week at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. The only other Bollywood film showing locally is Badrinath Ki Dulhania at South Barrington 24, while the English-language film For Here or to Go? carries over at MovieMax.

Other Indian movies showing in Chicagoland this weekend include:

Movie Review: Naam Shabana (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Taapsee Pannu’s supporting character Shabana was the best part of the 2015 spy thriller Baby, so spinning off an origin story for her made perfect sense. However, Naam Shabana is dull, doing neither the character nor the actress who plays her justice.

Too much time is spent on the “origin” part of Shabana’s story. We know that she is being recruited by a spy agency thanks to a number of long-distance shots of her overlaid with the markings of a camera’s viewfinder. It’s the same view through which two Indian spies scope out notorious gangster Mikhail in Vienna, right before Mikhail kills both of them.

The long-shots of Shabana are interspersed with the events of her ordinary college life. She’s on the university judo team, she hangs out with her pals, and she takes an economics class with Jai (Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala), a hunk with a crush on Shabana. She shares the details of her tragic childhood with Jai, adding backstory on top of backstory.

By the time the inciting incident triggers Shabana’s first contact with the head of the spy agency, Ranvir (Manoj Bajpayee), the movie is a quarter of the way over. There’s so much build up just get the ball rolling. Even then, the ball rolls very slowly.

Shabana first has to prove herself to the agency, even though they’ve been following her for years. There’s the obligatory training montage. Right when we’re ready for her to take the field and kick butt, Shabana disappears from the narrative for a full twenty minutes while other agents track down a crook named Tony (Prithviraj Sukumaran), whom they hope can lead them to Mikhail. When Shabana finally rejoins the fray, the action is interrupted by a ridiculous item number featuring Elli Avram.

Naam Shabana has about ninety minutes of material stretched to fill two-and-a-half hours. When one example of something would suffice, we’re shown two, just to pad things out. Although Baby creator Neeraj Pandey didn’t direct Naam Shabana — that credit belongs to Shivam Nair — Pandey did write the screenplay, complete with his tendency toward overly long runtimes.

A further disappointment is the way Shabana’s character is fleshed out from her small role in Baby. She’s mostly robotic, with a brief moment of hysteria that is drowned out by composer Sanjoy Chowdhury’s over-the-top score. (Did anyone else find the film’s closing theme awfully similar to the opening of “Day Tripper” by The Beatles?)

Shabana’s primary relationship is with her supportive but concerned mother (played by Natasha Rastogi). Their relationship provides the perfect opportunity to explore the natural pulling away from parents by young adults as they leave school and start their own lives–only taken to the extreme when the young adult becomes a spy. Instead, Mom simply vanishes from the story once Shabana joins the agency. It’s a huge miss in that it would’ve given a talented actress like Pannu more to do than just look cool in fight scenes (which she definitely does).

Cameos by key Baby cast members like Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, and Danny Denzongpa are well-integrated, but they come too late to rescue Naam Shabana from its plodding pace.

Links

Bollywood Box Office: March 31-April 2, 2017

Naam Shabana got off to an unimpressive start at the North American box office. From March 31-April 2, 2017, the spin-off prequel earned $157,655 from 90 theaters ($1,752 average; adjusted average of $2,021 from 78 theaters*). While no one expected Naam Shabana to match the opening weekend collections of Baby ($434,951 from 99 theaters) — the 2015 Akshay Kumar action flick that spawned it — Naam Shabana‘s performance was sub-par compared to other movies that released this year with a similar theatrical footprint. It opened in three more theaters than Phillauri but earned over $100,000 less than Phillauri did in its opening weekend, despite its marketing advantage as part of a franchise. Naam Shabana‘s ultimate total will likely fall short of $300,000.

Phillauri held up reasonably well in its second weekend in theaters, retaining about 27% of its opening weekend business. It earned $71,277 from 78 theaters ($914 average; adjusted average of $1,097 from 65 theaters). Its total earning stand at $417,054.

After its fourth weekend in theaters, Badrinath Ki Dulhania is closing in on a North American total of $2 million. It added another $31,760 from 26 theaters ($1,222 average), bringing its current total to $1,966,459. (Bollywood Hungama had no US theater data for Badrinath Ki Dulhania, so I used Box Office Mojo’s figures.)

The Ghazi Attack closed out its seventh (and hopefully final) weekend, earning $10 from one theater. Its total across all languages is $770,425.

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama