Bollywood movies are becoming harder to find in Chicago area theaters. The AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 — the only theater in the city of Chicago to periodically show Hindi movies — closes its doors for good tonight.
Further out in the suburbs, the Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville shuttered a dozen of its screens, rechristening itself the Regal Cantera Stadium 17 & RPX. The closure of 40% of its available screens doesn’t bode well for any foreign or independent movies at the Cantera.
Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove has historically programmed movies in Indian languages other than Hindi. But that theater hasn’t held a screening since April 24.
This leaves only two theaters in the Chicago area that regularly devote screen space to Indian cinema: Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. Neither is carrying any Hindi movies this weekend.
Part of the paucity of Bollywood movies in theaters in recent weeks is attributable to the Indian Premier League Cricket season, which began in April and ends this Saturday. The few Hindi movies that have released in May have been smaller films lacking star power. Most have exited theaters after only one week.
The release of Ready on June 3 should give an indication of whether Bollywood has a future in Chicago beyond the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30. Staff at the Cantera told me that the theater may still carry Bollywood movies, based on availability. Regal’s corporate website lists the Cantera of one of its thirteen theaters that show Hindi movies (though it still lists the theater as the Cantera 30). If Ready — a comedy featuring superstar Salman Khan — doesn’t make the cut at Cantera, I don’t know what will.
So, what are your options if theaters near you have stopped carrying Bollywood movies? Here are some ways to get your fix without resorting to Internet piracy:
Public libraries. Many public libraries throughout the Chicago region carry Indian DVDs in their movie sections. Minimal check-out fees ($1 for a week at the Naperville Public Library, for example) help the libraries expand their collections.
Netflix. The subscription service has a decent selection of Bollywood movies available via DVD and streaming, including two movies that came out in theaters earlier this year: No One Killed Jessica and 7 Khoon Maaf.
YouTube. The video service recently expanded its selection of Indian movies available for free or for rent (typically $3.99 or less). Turning 30, which came out in January, is available for free.
Amazon. In addition to selling DVDs, Amazon Instant Video offers a number of Bollywood movies for rent or purchase. However, the selection of Hindi movies is limited, and the site is hard to search.
Eros Entertainment. If you’d rather own the DVD, Eros is my go-to site. Their selection is limited, but their service is good and prices are reasonable. The DVD for Game, which released in theaters on April 1, sells for $16.99 at Amazon, but just $8.99 at Eros. (Access Bollywood reader Ron also recommends Nehaflix.)
A hunky photographer (John Abraham) and a male nurse (Abhishek Bachchan) pretend to be a gay couple in order to share a Miami apartment with a beautiful girl (Priyanka Chopra) they’re both in love with. This comedy of errors isn’t trying to make a political statement, nor does it rely solely on cheap gay jokes to generate laughs. Dostana is a genuinely funny and romantic story about friendship, enhanced by captivating performances from some of Bollywood’s top young actors.
No Rating (language); 145 minutes
This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on November 21, 2008
I can’t think of a single reason to recommend this slapstick comedy. Every moment is annoying, from the persistent sound effects (such as flatulence followed by a slide whistle) to the character with a speech impediment who can speak only in vowels, and at a pitch that would make dogs howl. Even veteran actors like Ajay Devgan and Kareena Kapoor overact so outrageously that it’s impossible not to despise every character in Golmaal Returns.
This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on November 6, 2008
Fans of Project Runway will enjoy this inside look at the seamy side of the fashion industry. Priyanka Chopra (a former Miss World herself) plays Meghna, a small-town girl who dreams of becoming a supermodel. Her morals are put to the test as her star rises; quaintly, she considers wine and cigarettes gateway drugs. Apart from the stereotypical treatment of gay characters, Fashion has continuity, believable performances and enough content for a TV mini-series.
This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on November 6, 2008
Two slacker film students develop a love for their country as they travel across India. Preity Zinta provides the film with emotional gravity as a soldier’s widow, and Sunny Deol gets the most memorable scene, beating up a dozen people while seated in a wheelchair. Heroes is patriotic without being nationalistic, although the tone is sappy at times. The breathtaking scenery is more than enough to make anyone fall in love with India.
No Rating (violence); 138 minutes
This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on October 30, 2008
It’s no accident why Karzzzz is so bad. Himesh Reshammiya is both the film’s star and its music director, so the movie feels like a series of music videos. The plot, in which rock star Monty (Reshammiya) discovers he was murdered in a past life, contains so many extra characters and side plots that it’s hard to keep track of what’s really important — like, who is this bald villain with a musical bionic arm?
No Rating (violence); 153 minutes
This review originally appeared on napersun.com on October 21, 2008
On a fortune teller’s advice, unlucky architect Raj (Shahid Kapoor) searches for a good luck charm. His charm turns out to be a pretty community activist (Vidya Balan) whom he can’t stand, and who is working to stop the construction of a building Raj designed. The tight plot moves Kismat Konnection along quickly, as the likable lead characters progress on their inevitable path to love. The talented supporting cast supplies a number of laugh-out-loud moments.
No Rating; 155 minutes
This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on July 24, 2008
In writer-director Harry Baweja’s vision of the future, people wear parachute pants, dance the Moonwalk, and play with Teddy Ruxpin dolls. The future as portrayed in Love Story 2050 looks a lot like America in the 1980s, only with hovercars. The characters don’t even travel to 2050 until halfway through the film, after an interminable present-day setup in which an obnoxious lout woos a young woman too bewitched by his luxurious hair to notice that he’s an idiot.
No Rating (violence, language); 179 minutes
This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on July 10, 2008
After a wealthy businessman’s daughter is kidnapped, he jumps through the kidnapper’s hoops to get her back. The melodramatic story is entertaining at first, until the tasks assigned by the kidnapper (e.g., robberies, jailbreaks, and murders) become increasingly unrealistic and tedious. Kidnap also ends on a morally unfathomable note. Still, there’s something satisfying about seeing paunchy 49-year-old Sanjay Dutt (as the businessman) nimbly running, jumping, and motorcycling like a man half his age.
No Rating (violence); 149 minutes
This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on October 9, 2008
In this Bollywood take on Mary Poppins, a judge forces wealthy bachelor Ranbeer (Saif Ali Khan) to adopt four kids after he kills their parents in a car accident. The court-created clan is miserable until a mischievous angel, played by the delightful Rani Mukerji, arrives to turn them into a real family. The setup is far-fetched, but Thoda Pyaar, Thoda Magic (“A Little Love, A Little Magic”) addresses the kids’ emotions realistically, while maintaining a light tone appropriate for a fun summer flick.
No Rating (brief violence); 145 minutes
This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on July 3, 2008