Tag Archives: October

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2018

As with my Best Bollywood Movies post, I’m only including five titles in my Worst Bollywood Movies list for 2018. There simply weren’t enough Hindi films terrible enough to warrant such a dubious distinction. But believe me, those that did make the list earned their spots.

In fifth place is Fanney Khan, a dull but mostly harmless family film, except for one very troublesome subplot. The parents of aspiring teenage singer Lata (Pihu Sand) fret that their daughter will be pressured to trade sex for stardom. Yet her father Fanney (Anil Kapoor) has no problem trading another woman’s body in exchange for Lata’s success, kidnapping Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s pop star character to do so. That sound you hear is me smacking myself in the forehead.

Aiyaary makes the list due to its muddled writing. Filmmaker Neeraj Pandey belabors obvious points while glossing over complicated conspiracies in this bland, slow spy thriller, starring Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee.

Race 3 is another bloated narrative mess. I’m a fan of director Remo D’Souza’s movies ABCD and A Flying Jatt, but this franchise outing proves how hard it can be to include a superstar actor in an ensemble picture, while still allotting said superstar a disproportionately large portion of screentime. It also proves that Salman Khan’s star power doesn’t guarantee a movie’s box office success (more on that to come).

The two worst Hindi films of 2018 are bad for many of the same reasons. Both bungle their handling of traumatic injury and disability. Both feature loathsome male protagonists who depend on the suffering of women in order to grow emotionally — only the protagonists don’t actually undergo any emotional growth.

That’s how October wound up in second place for the year. Varun Dhawan plays the awful male lead in question. His character is obsessed with a comatose co-worker because he thinks she may have harbored feelings for him before the accident that injured her. The premise is plain gross, made all the worse by Varun’s character inserting himself into the finer details of her medical care (he LOVES checking her catheter bag). Even after the co-worker regains consciousness, her brain and body are so damaged that she can’t tell him to leave her alone if she wishes him to do so, let alone physically push him away. He takes advantage of her vulnerability, and he ends the movie no more morally improved than he was at the beginning.

As demoralizing as October is, first place goes to a movie that failed on a grander scale. Zero is my Worst Bollywood Movie of 2018. Granted, Shah Rukh Khan’s film wasn’t the biggest box office flop by one of the Three Khans for the year (in North America, that honor belongs to Aamir Khan’s Thugs of Hindostan). But Zero was easily the most offensive of the year’s disappointing films. Khan plays Bauua, a man with dwarfism —  his diminutive stature achieved using CGI and camera techniques — who falls in love with Aafia (Anushka Sharma), a woman with cerebral palsy. Writer Wendy Lu posted a piece on Huffington Post just yesterday explaining the problems with able-bodied actors playing disabled characters in Hollywood, and the same problems apply to the two lead actors in Zero. This is a movie that should never have gotten off the drawing board.

Yet Zero went ahead, and the resultant movie is even worse than feared. Not only is the movie out-of-step in the way it treats disability, it’s also sexist. Bauua thinks Aafia is his equal since they’re the same height when she’s in her wheelchair — never mind that she’s a rocket scientist and he’s an almost-40 high school dropout who’s never held a job. The rest of the story is utterly ridiculous. The only person who emerges from Zero with an unblemished reputation is Katrina Kaif, whose excellent performance stands to be overlooked, as everyone else tries to pretend that Zero never happened.

Kathy’s Worst Bollywood Movies of 2018

  1. Zero
  2. October — Buy at Amazon/watch on Prime
  3. Race 3 — watch on Prime
  4. Aiyaary — Buy at Amazon
  5. Fanney Khan — watch on Prime

Previous Worst Movies Lists

Movie Review: October (2018)

1 Star (out of 4)

Watch October on Prime
Buy the DVD at Amazon

October is a difficult film to watch, but not for the reasons one might expect. The drama of a young woman’s life forever changed by injury is merely the backdrop for a too familiar story of an undeserving male character’s redemption.

Varun Dhawan stars as Dan, a hotel management trainee with no likeable qualities. He’s a snob who’d rather delegate work than do it himself, especially tasks he deems beneath him, like cleaning rooms and doing laundry. He’s a know-it-all who loves telling more experienced people how to do their jobs. He’s lazy, yet competitive enough to resent fellow trainees who are smarter and more capable than he is.

Among the trainees, the chief recipient of Dan’s bad attitude is Shiuli (Banita Sandhu). Whether his being a jerk to her indicates some kind of stunted elementary school-type crush or if it’s just his standard jerkiness is unclear. Shortly into the film, Shiuli slips from a third floor balcony at a New Year’s Eve party, rendering her comatose and permanently paralyzed.

Dan wasn’t at the party, so he only learns days after the accident that Shiuli’s last words before she fell were, “Where is Dan?” This sparks an obsession, leading Dan to spend all of his time at the hospital in the hopes that Shiuli will wake and tell him why she asked about him.

That sounds like the setup for horror movie, yet we know it can’t be, because Dan fits the mold of a common type of Bollywood hero: the boorish man-child who must finally become an adult. The arc for this character type is so familiar — in the course of falling in love with a good woman, he learns to care for someone other than himself — that director Shoojit Sircar and writer Juhi Chaturvedi treat the hero’s emotional growth as the inevitable consequence of his devotion.

But Dan doesn’t change in October. He ends the movie as much of an obnoxious know-it-all as he is at the start, correcting Shiulu’s mother Vidya (Gitanjali Rao) on how to properly care for her daughter and wanting praise for his contributions (which include hovering over a workman building a ramp for a wheelchair).

Dan’s dedication to Shiuli’s recovery stems from his wanting an answer from her. He uses his obsession as a measure of moral superiority, criticizing her friends for not spending every free moment at the hospital. He can’t understand that they have other obligations — to the rest of their friends and families, and even to themselves — that they must tend to as well.

That’s because Dan’s misanthropy and willingness to ignore his own family leave him with no other relationships beside the one he invents with Shiuli, and he’s willing to sacrifice everything to maintain it. He skips work, stops paying rent to his roommate, and borrows money from everyone with no way to pay it back. He’s mean to hospital staff and other visitors.

But because Dan is the protagonist, his single-mindedness is depicted as positive. The little he does for Shiuli mitigates the rest of his awful behavior. On the rare occasions that he is punished, he fails upward. The movie is determined to maintain Dan’s hero status, in spite of his actions.

All of this is driven by a one-sided devotion. From all indications, Shiuli wasn’t interested in Dan romantically before her accident, and they were barely more than acquaintances. Does she like him hanging around her at all times? If not, she’s physically unable to tell him to leave. Would she want him involved in the minutiae of her healthcare, monitoring things as intimate as the amount of urine in her catheter bag?

In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Sircar said that he and Chaturvedi drew on their own experiences caring for seriously ill parents when creating October. Yet the amount of influence Dan has over Shiuli’s care feels unrealistic. Certainly Vidya knows her daughter better than Dan, thus making her a better judge of Shiuli’s wishes — especially since Dan is neither the one being subjected to extraordinary medical interventions nor the one footing the bill for them. Vidya’s ready assent to Dan’s will reinforces how little agency female characters have in October.

Dhawan is a versatile actor, and it’s nice to see him in a film that requires more subtlety than a loud comedy like Judwaa 2 or Dilwale. Yet, whenever he plays a character who is supposed to undergo substantial emotional growth — be it October, Badlapur, or even Badrinath Ki Dulhania — a woman is always subjected to physical harm in order for him to do so. That’s not Dhawan’s fault, but it does highlight a need for screenwriters and filmmakers to move beyond fridging women as an expedient pathway to male character growth.

Links

Streaming Video News: June 9, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with two 2018 theatrical releases. Varun Dhawan’s October and Mahesh Babu’s Bharat Ane Nenu are now available for streaming. Other recent additions include Karthik Kumar’s standup comedy special Blood Chutney, the Kannada film Puta Tirugisi Nodi, the Hindi-dubbed flicks Mera Aakrosh and Shivam the Warrior, and the Tamil movies Engaeyum Eppothum, Naaigal Jaakirathai, and Pisasu. For everything else new on Prime — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Bollywood Box Office: May 25-27, 2018

Raazi‘s dream run continued through a third weekend in North America. From May 25-27, 2018, the spy thriller earned $310,279 from 99 theaters ($3,134 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. There are no estimates for the full 4-day holiday weekend, but Monday, May 28’s returns should be quite good as well. After passing the $2 million mark last Wednesday (according to 143 Cinema), Raazi‘s total earnings to date stand at $2,337,174.

The weekend’s new release — Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran — got off to a good start, even with a comparatively modest theatrical footprint. John Abraham’s historical drama earned $162,870 from 50 theaters ($3,257 average), per Bollywood Hungama. 143 Cinema’s total is slightly higher: $179,152 from 54 theaters ($3,318 average).

102 Not Out earned $41,799 from 41 theaters ($1,019 average) in its fourth weekend of release, bringing its total to $1,294,925 so far.

One US theater kept October around for a seventh weekend, earning $99. Its total stands at $518,060.

Sources: 143 Cinema and Bollywood Hungama

 

Bollywood Box Office: May 18-20, 2018

Raazi had another outstanding weekend in North America. From May 18-20, 2018, it earned $511,635 from 120 theaters ($4,264 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. The spy drama tied with Sonu Ki Titu Ke Sweety for the year’s best Weekend 1-Weekend 2 holdover, retaining 62% of its opening weekend business. Raazi‘s total already stands at $1,795,109. 143 Cinema posts daily box office grosses, so we can track exactly when Raazi passes the $2 million mark.

Come next weekend, North American theaters will have two Indian films featuring solo female leads that have earned more than $2 million bucks here: Raazi and the Telugu biopic Mahanati. That’s pretty cool. (Also, Telugu movies make a ton of money here, holy crap!)

102 Not Out continued its strong showing into a third weekend, earning $115,746 from 102 theaters* ($1,135 average). Its total earnings of $1,194,551 rank it in fifth place for the year, just $125k behind Baaghi 2.

October earned $203 from one theater, bringing its total to $517,870.

*Bollywood Hungama routinely counts Canadian theaters twice in its weekly reporting, at least for a movie’s first few weekends of release (although they seem to be right about Raazi this week). When possible, I try to verify the correct theater count with other sources, like Box Office Mojo or 143 Cinema. The above figures represent what I believe to be the actual theater counts. Bollywood Hungama’s reporting technically puts 102 Not Out in 116 theaters (making for a $998 per-theater average).

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, and Box Office Mojo

Bollywood Box Office: May 11-13, 2018

Raazi had a terrific opening weekend in North American theaters — the second best of the year after Padmaavat, in fact. From May 11-13, 2018, the spy thriller earned $829,795 from 110 theaters* ($7,544 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. The three other Hindi films to have officially earned more than $1 million here so far ended their theatrical runs with total earnings that ranged from 2.38 (Baaghi 2) to 2.89 (Padmaavat) times the amount each film earned in its opening weekend, so a final tally north of $2 million for Raazi is on the table.

102 Not Out also performed really well, hanging onto 60% of its opening weekend business. Bollywood Hungama reports second weekend earnings of $265,800 from 102 theaters ($2,606 average), while Box Office Mojo reports a higher weekend tally of $293,584 ($2,878 average). Box Office Mojo further reports Monday, May 14 earnings of $22,943 — enough to push the film’s total earnings past the seven-digit mark to $1,007,916.

Other Bollywood movies still showing in US theaters:

  • October: Week 5; $1,111 from four theaters; $$278 average; $517,423 total
  • Blackmail: Week 6; $56 from one theater; $300,270 total

*Bollywood Hungama routinely counts Canadian theaters twice in its weekly reporting, at least for a movie’s first few weekends of release. When possible, I try to verify the correct theater count with other sources, like Box Office Mojo. The above figures represent what I believe to be the actual theater counts. Bollywood Hungama’s reporting technically puts Raazi in 129 theaters (making for a $6,433 per-theater average) and 102 Not Out in 120 theaters ($2,215 average).

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Bollywood Box Office: May 4-6, 2018

102 Not Out emerged as a surprise hit over the weekend. According to Bollywood Hungama, the geriatric comedy earned $446,304 from 102 theaters* ($4,376 average) in North America during the weekend of May 4-6, 2018. Box Office Mojo reported slightly higher weekend earnings of $483,681, with further Monday returns of $44,065 bringing the film’s total to $527,746 so far. Before its release, I would not have predicted 102 Not Out to eventually hit the $1 million mark here, but that result looks more likely than not right now.

Other Indian movies showing in North American theaters (no data for Baaghi 2):

  • October: Week 4; $5,353 from ten theaters; $535 average; $514,375 total
  • Blackmail: Week 5; $2,378 from seven theaters; $340 average; $299,590 total

*Bollywood Hungama routinely counts Canadian theaters twice in its weekly reporting, at least for a movie’s first few weekends of release. When possible, I try to verify the correct theater count with other sources, like Box Office Mojo. The above figures represent what I believe to be the actual theater counts. Bollywood Hungama’s reporting technically puts 102 Not Out in 120 theaters (making for a $3,719 per-theater average).

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Opening May 4: 102 Not Out

One new Bollywood movie opens in Chicago area theaters on May 4, 2018. The comedy 102 Not Out stars Amitabh Bachchan as a centenarian, and Rishi Kapoor plays his elderly son.

102 Not Out opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It is rated PG and has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 42 min.

The South Barrington 24 also carries over October, Baaghi 2, and Blackmail.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in Chicagoland this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: April 27-29, 2018

No new releases made for a lackluster weekend at the North American box office for Bollywood films. While Avengers: Infinity War set opening weekend records and the Telugu hit Bharat Ane Nenu crossed the $3 million mark, October quietly led the way among Hindi movies with $22,384 from 21 theaters ($1,066 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. The Varun Dhawan drama has total earnings of $498,484 after three weekends in the United States and Canada.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North America (no data for Baaghi 2):

  • Blackmail: Week 4; $7,196 from ten theaters; $720 average; $294,060 total
  • Beyond the Clouds: Week 2; $1,102 from five theaters; $220 average; $40,898 total
  • Hichki: Week 6; $900 from one theater; $766,979 total
  • Raid: Week 7; $564 from one theater; $1,088,345 total

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

In Theaters: April 27, 2018

No new Hindi movies release in Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning April 27, 2018, which is just as well since every bit of available screenspace is seemingly allotted to Avengers: Infinity War. Beyond the Clouds gets a second week at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, which also holds over October, Baaghi 2, and Blackmail.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend: