Tag Archives: New York

Opening February 12: My Name Is Khan

The first major Bollywood release of 2010 is upon us. My Name Is Khan features Shahrukh Khan as Rizvan Khan, an Indian immigrant with Asperger syndrome living in San Fransisco. Kajol plays Rizvan’s love interest, Mandira. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 jeopardize their happiness, and Rizvan undertakes a cross-country journey to prove his love for Mandira.

I’m always interested in perspectives on 9/11 from filmmakers outside of the U.S., as in the 2009 Hindi films New York and Kurbaan. I’m a bit concerned about MNIK‘s surface similarities to Forrest Gump (a guy with social problems on a cross-country journey), a movie I wasn’t crazy about. But I have faith in SRK and Kajol to give spectacular performances that will win me over.

My Name Is Khan opens in the Chicago area on Friday, February 12 at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. MNIK has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min. Based on the amount of time the AMC theaters are allowing between showings (usually a reliable indicator), I suspect the movie’s actual runtime is longer than that.

The only other Hindi movie showing in the Chicago area this weekend is 3 Idiots, which continues for its eighth week at the South Barrington 30. The movie has earned $6,463,622 in U.S. theaters thus far.

Striker departs theaters after one week. I don’t have figures on how much it earned in U.S. theaters, but American YouTube viewers have rented the movie just 1,283 times since its worldwide release last Friday. I hope Striker gets more attention when it releases on DVD, because it’s terrific.

Other Indian films playing in the Chicago area this weekend include Body Guard (Malayalam), Kedi (Telugu) and Thamizh Padam (Tamil) at the Golf Glen 5. Kedi is also showing at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

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Best Bollywood Movies of 2009

Despite losing a couple of months of releases because of a dispute with theater owners, Indian filmmakers released a number of terrific Hindi movies in 2009. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

Dramas Kurbaan and New York addressed terrorism with boldness and honesty, examining the reasons ordinary people become extremists. Delhi-6 dealt with religious differences in a manner both compelling and accessible. American audiences will enjoy the soundtrack by Oscar-winning composer A. R. Rahman.

A live-action version of Aladin was a novel update of the classic tale, appealing to adults and kids alike.

Romance was, as always, a popular theme. Amusing romantic comedies like Dil Bole Hadippa! and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani took a light take on love. Luck By Chance and Wake Up Sid, both of which starred talented actress Konkona Sen Sharma, took a more serious approach, addressing the challenges of pursuing career goals while maintaining a healthy relationship.

The best of this year’s romances was Love Aaj Kal. Telling love stories from two different time periods, the movie embraced traditional Bollywood romance conventions while showcasing contemporary relationship issues as well. The entertaining dance numbers will make American viewers feel like they’re getting a real Bollywood experience within a Westernized story structure. The modern relationships showcased in Love Aaj Kal, Luck By Chance and Wake Up Sid represent an important advance for Indian movie makers courting success abroad.

But the Best Bollywood Movie of 2009 has to be 3 Idiots. It’s a great comedy about friendship — with just a hint of romance — that features nuanced performances by Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi. The jokes are funny whether you’re listening to them in Hindi or reading them in English subtitles.

More importantly, 3 Idiots represents a step forward for Indian comedies. Most Hindi comedies released in recent years (excluding romantic comedies) have relied on slapstick humor: childish sound effects, comic violence and chase scenes that defy logic. There’s certainly a place for slapstick in modern cinema, but I don’t think this type of humor plays well in the international markets that Hindi filmmakers are looking to break into.

3 Idiots has its share of silliness, but it’s shown in a more subdued, realistic way that makes the characters relatable. It’s easier for the audience to cheer for the guys in 3 Idiots than for the farcical nincompoops in a movie like Do Knot Disturb (my Worst Bollywood Movie of 2009), because in 3 Idiots they seem like real people. When they succeed, despite being a bit goofy, it gives hope to the rest of us goofballs.

Previous Best Movies List

Opening July 31: Love Aaj Kal

loveaajkalsmallOpening Friday, July 31, 2009, is the Saif Ali Khan-Deepika Padukone romance Love Aaj Kal (“Love Nowadays”). The movie follows the story of two love affairs, one taking place in 2009 and another that happened in 1965. It’s reportedly a remake of the Taiwanese film Three Times.

In the Chicago area, Love Aaj Kal will run at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. The film’s runtime is listed as 2 hrs 10 min.

Sanjay Dutt’s Luck is getting a second week at AMC South Barrington 30 and Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5, which is also carrying over New York for a sixth week. Luck earned $112,309 in its opening weekend in U.S. theaters.

Another Indian film opening in the Chicago area this weekend is the Telugu movie Magadheera, playing at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Opening July 24: Luck

luckSanjay Dutt’s latest film, Luck, opens in theaters this Friday, July 24. Dutt plays a gangster in a movie about the role luck plays in several characters’ lives. Luck will run at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles.

Both theaters are carrying over New York for an impressive fifth week in U.S. theaters. As of last weekend, New York has earned $981, 866 in America.

The Golf Glen 5 will also feature Akshay Kumar’s Kambakkht Ishq, which has so far earned $1,408,522 in the U.S., as well as the Tamil movie Achchamundu! Achchamundu! and the Malayalam film Pattanathil Bhootham.

Opening July 10: Short Kut

This is the fourth consecutive week of new Bollywood releases in the Chicago area since the strike ended. Opening in theaters on Friday, July 10, 2009 is Short Kut: The Con is On, a movie about a small-time actor (Arshad Warsi) who steals a script and becomes a Bollywood star. Hilarity (allegedly) ensues when the script’s writer (Akshaye Khanna) gets his revenge.

Short Kut will run at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It’s runtime is listed as 2 hrs 19 min.

The AMC South Barrington 30 and the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville will both continue to run New York and Kambakkht Ishq. Both movies have already earned nearly $1 million in the U.S.

Kambakkht Ishq is also getting a second week at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago and at the Golf Glen 5.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include Bhramaram (Malayalam), Oy! (Telugu) and Made In China [which may be a rerelease of Chandni Chowk to China, I’m not sure] at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove is showing the Telugu film Gopi Gopika Godavari.

Here’s a trailer for this week’s new release, Short Kut:

Opening July 3: Kambakkht Ishq

This holiday weekend marks the long-awaited release of Kambakkht Ishq, a romantic comedy starring Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor. The pair play a bickering stuntman and supermodel who try to break up a wedding. As with most Akshay Kumar movies, expect slapstick wackiness.

Of interest to American audiences are cameo appearances by actors Sylvester Stallone, Denise Richards and Brandon Routh. The majority of the movie was shot at Universal Studios in Hollywood, a first for Indian cinema.

Kambakkht Ishq will open in the Chicago area at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. The Cantera 30 is featuring a special midnight showing of Kambakkht Ishq on Thursday night (technically 12:01 a.m. Friday). Eros Entertainment’s website has a list of all theaters in the U.S. and Canada showing the movie, which has a listed runtime of 2 hrs 20 min.

Last week’s big Bollywood release, New York, made an impressive showing in U.S. theaters. It earned nearly $500,000, to finish in 16th place last weekend, with a better per-screen average than the debut of Cameron Diaz’s film My Sister’s Keeper.

New York is carrying over for a second week at the AMC Cantera 30, the AMC South Barrington 30, and the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5. It’s definitely worth checking out; I gave it 3.5/4 stars in my review.

The other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend are all in Telugu, including Oy! at the Golf Glen 5, and Kick and Evaraina Epudaina at the Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Movie Review: New York (2009)

newyork3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
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In 2007, FBI agent Roshan (Irrfan Khan) tasks Indian immigrant Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) with spying on his college buddy, Sam (John Abraham), whom The Bureau suspects of being a terrorist.  The job forces Omar to deal with his feelings for Maya (Katrina Kaif), another friend from college whom he hasn’t seen since September 11, 2001: a day that changed the friends’ lives forever.

Relative newcomer Mukesh capably carries the weight of the film as Omar, even playing opposite superstars like Kaif and Abraham. The plot is detailed enough to make it a believable spy thriller, but never loses focus on the story of love and friendship at its core.

New York has the extra responsibility of addressing a sad truth. Hundreds of Muslim men were arrested by the FBI in the days after 9/11, abused and detained for months in the U.S. before being released without charges (the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled on the related case of Ashcroft v. Iqbal). Writer Aditya Chopra and director Kabir Khan handle the subject compassionately, and yet with an objectivity I’m not sure most American filmmakers would be capable of, less than eight years after 9/11.

An American film would likely err on the side of either über-patriotism or empathy for those whose situations have driven them to violence. New York deftly avoids this by aligning itself against both extremes.

The film condemns the zeal and prejudices which led American law enforcement agents to target Muslims and men of Arab and South Asian descent. But the movie is no kinder to those ex-detainees whose desire for revenge against their captors might lead them to terrorism. Chopra & Khan’s ultimate message is that the cycle of revenge traps us all in the past.

The movie contains some graphic scenes of torture. Also, theater websites incorrectly list New York‘s runtime as 1 hr. 48 min.; it’s closer to 2 hrs 30 min.

Opening June 26: New York

This weekend marks the opening of the first major release since Bollywood went on strike in the spring. Yash Raj Films’ New York takes place in New York City in the days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The story focuses on an Indian university student (Neil Nitin Mukesh) and his two American friends (John Abraham and Katrina Kaif).

Yash Raj films are generally among the best that Bollywood has to offer, so this could be a good introduction for Americans unfamiliar with Indian cinema.

New York will play at the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville, the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles starting Friday, June 26, 2009.

This weekend, the Golf Glen 5 will also feature Indian films Prayanam (Telugu), Ride (Telugu) and Mee Shivajiraje Bhose Boltoye (Marathi). Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove will show the Telugu film Evaraina Epudaina.

Here’s the theatrical trailer for New York: