I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with 35 Indian movies that were just added to the streaming catalog. Three Tamil films, two Malayalam movies, and the 2018 Punjabi drama Asees are now available, along with a trove of Hindi films released theatrically from 2006-2015. Most of the titles are new to Netflix. Here are links those I’ve previously reviewed:
Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji is the only new Hindi movie opening in the Chicago area the weekend beginning January 28, 2011. The romantic comedy stars Ajay Devgan, Emraan Hashmi and Omi Vaidya as three guys searching for love.
No One Killed Jessica, which has earned $428,691 in the U.S. so far, gets a fourth week at the Pipers Alley 4. Yamla Pagla Deewana leaves area theaters on Thursday with an impressive $851,381 two-week American haul.
Aamir Khan’s latest, Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries), is the only new Hindi movie opening in the Chicago area on Friday, January 21, 2011. Dhobi Ghat, which stars Khan as one of four characters whose stories intertwine across class lines, marks the directorial debut of Khan’s wife, Kiran Rao.
This is no reflection on the quality of the movie, but I find Dhobi Ghat‘s trailer really annoying. The three-mini-trailers-in-one structure loops the same music throughout and provides three concrete end points, tricking you into believing the trailer is over before it actually is. It was clever the first time I saw it, but infuriating by the fifth.
Yamla Pagla Deewana, which earned $504,116 in its first weekend in U.S. theaters, gets a second week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30. No One Killed Jessica gets a third week at the Pipers Alley 4 and South Barrington 30, having earned $372,357 in the U.S. so far.
One new Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on January 14, 2011. Yamla Pagla Deewana stars Bollywood legend Dharmendra and his sons, actors Sunny and Bobby Deol, as a family of con artists who must rescue a pretty girl.
When a movie begins with promise, it’s almost more disappointing when it falls apart than if it had been terrible from the beginning. Such is the case with No One Killed Jessica (NOKJ), which fizzles after a gripping first hour.
NOKJ begins with a disclaimer that the movie is a mix of fact and fiction, and not a strict reenactment of the Jessica Lall murder case. Based on accounts of the case at Wikipedia, the only major changes the movie makes are to the names of the persons involved. From a dramatic standpoint, sticking so closely to the facts actually makes for a weaker movie.
If you want to avoid plot spoilers, you may not want to read further (and certainly don’t go to the Wikipedia page).
The movie begins with Jessica’s murder at a party attended by 300 Delhi socialites. Jessica, in her capacity as a celebrity bartender, refuses to serve a trio of young men after last call. One of the men, Manish (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyubas), shoots Jessica in the head and flees the scene.
Since the murder took place in front of several eyewitnesses — and that dozens more saw Manish run from the party — it seems like an open-and-shut case. Given the likelihood of conviction, popular war correspondent and reporter, Meera (Rani Mukerji), turns down the opportunity to cover the story.
But victory looks less certain after Jessica’s bookish sister, Sabrina (Vidya Balan), talks to the prime witnesses. Those who are even willing to speak to her are either too scared to testify or willing to sell their testimony to the highest bidder. Rumors swirl that Manish’s wealthy politician father is threatening witnesses.
Up to this point in the story, the movie is terrific. The scene in which Jessica is shot is tense, and Manish undergoes an impressive transformation from arrogant clubgoer to terrified suspect. There’s just enough of Meera, the foul-mouthed but charming reporter, to make us want to see more of her.
Balan is riveting as Sabrina. Jessica’s introverted sister becomes her unlikely advocate, working with the one beleaguered police chief more interested in the truth than placating a killer’s politician father. Sabrina expresses her emotions in few words, sitting stone-faced, as a high society woman, who professes her fondness for Jessica, claims to have forgotten what happened that fateful night, all while blithely stuffing her face with chocolate cake.
But the story loses its intensity as soon as the case goes to trial. The lawyers are poorly-written and poorly-acted. All of the key testimony is given over the course of a few days, but a montage accelerates time forward six years. While this is true to the actual case, it makes little sense in a fictionalized account. Plus, there’s no mention of what Meera was doing during that time.
After the initial trial results in an acquittal, Meera makes getting justice for Jessica her personal mission, and uses her news program to do so. While crass Meera injects some much-appreciated humor into the film, the story stops being about Jessica at this point. It becomes a cheesy paean to the power of the people.
While it is true that it took public outcry to prompt a retrial of Jessica’s killer, the movie puts too much focus on the people doing the protesting, overshadowing Jessica and Sabrina. There are “man on the street” interviews set to absurdly patriotic violin swells. It’s very on-the-nose, and it makes the movie longer than it needs to be. The point that an outraged populous can affect justice could’ve been made more subtly and more succinctly.
*Even though No One Killed Jessica has no official MPAA rating, consider it an R-rated movie. Meera curses a blue streak in both Hindi and English. The scene in which Jessica is shot is so intense that a child at the showing I attended cried. This is not a movie for children.
2011 kicks off in exciting fashion with the release of the legal thriller No One Killed Jessica. The film, based on the real-life murder of model Jessica Lal, stars Vidya Balan and Rani Mukerji as two women out for justice.
Other Indian movies showing around Chicago this weekend include Kandahar (Malayalam), Manmadhan Ambu (Tamil) and Ragada (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove will also carrying Manmadhan Ambu and Ragada.