Tag Archives: Pari

Movie Review: Pari (2018)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Watch on Amazon Prime

Despite its sometimes disorganized story structure, the horror film Pari: Not a Fairytale (“Fairy: Not a Fairytale“) views maternity and childbirth through a compelling sinister lens.

Debutant director Prosit Roy’s movie opens with a boring scene of two single people — Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) and Piyali (Ritabari Chakraborty) — chitchatting on a rooftop after being set up by their parents. They aren’t very interesting, and any information about them that may eventually prove relevant could have been introduced later.

The movie should have started with the next sequence. Arnab’s parents drive him home from the meeting on a rainy back road. Their discussion of a possible marriage proposal intensifies, and a distracted Dad accidentally hits an old woman, killing her.

As the police investigate the deceased’s identity, they find a frightened young woman named Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma) chained inside a ramshackle barn. Rukhsana has had no contact with the outside world, hidden by her mother — the dead woman — from a nameless man who wants to kill her.

Early on, Pari is largely a collection of horror movie must-haves, like sudden loud noises and people appearing abruptly in frame. There’s no finesse in how the jump scares are applied. There’s also a surprising amount of gore, which seems to exist only to prepare the audience for more blood to come — although that later gruesomeness reinforces the movie’s themes, while the early stuff doesn’t.

The story hits its stride when Arnab becomes Rukhsana’s reluctant caretaker. She’s been so sheltered that she eats out of the garbage bin, not knowing that there is food in the refrigerator, because she doesn’t know what a refrigerator is. Arnab isn’t sure if Rukhsana’s mystery man is real, but he accepts that her fear of him is.

Of course the man is real, and he’s hunting Rukhsana. Professor Quasim Ali (Rajat Kapoor) is obsessed with stopping a doomsday cult from disseminating the bloodline of the djinn Ifrit. The professor takes more than a little pleasure in destroying those he suspects are connected to the djinn.

In Pari, Ifrit’s influence is tied to the female reproductive cycle, the sanguine nature of which drives director Roy’s visual style. Roy and his co-writer Abhishek Banerjee use Ifrit’s influence as a mechanism to explore the unique physical connection between mothers and their offspring. The gore associated with this aspect of the story — in the form of injuries visited upon the female characters — makes sense, evoking the bloody nature of childbirth.

Another theme related to that mother-child connection is its corollary: the lack of a physical connection between father and child, and how that frees men to abandon their unborn progeny at will. Professor Ali personifies society’s desire to punish women for out-of-wedlock pregnancy (consensual or not).

Kapoor’s performance as the professor is the spookiest element of Pari. He coolly partakes in murder and torture as an ordinary part of doing business. The dull opening scene featuring Chatterjee and Chakraborty is a blip, with both of them getting better and better as the story progresses. Sharma commands the screen, as always, though it would’ve been fun to spend more time with her character as Rukhsana discovers the modern world.

For all of its flaws, Pari is a film with a lot of interesting ideas. Just don’t expect too many scares.


Streaming Video News: May 7, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of new seasons of a couple of Hindi cartoons for kids: Prince Jai Aur Dumdaar Viru and Sab Jholmaal Hai.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with several new additions, including Anushka Sharma’s horror movie Pari, which released into theaters on March 2. Other new offerings include the Hindi films Accident on Hill Road, Deadline: Sirf 24 Ghante, Dehraadun Diary, Kuchh Meetha Ho Jaye, and Rudraksh. For everything else new on Prime and Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Bollywood Horror Movies at the North American Box Office

Bollywood horror movies are notorious duds at the North American box office. They open in a handful of theaters, make next to nothing, and disappear quickly. When Anushka Sharma announced that she would star in the horror film Pari — produced by her own company, Clean Slate Films — it raised the question of whether her presence as a marquee star could boost a genre movie’s ceiling internationally.

Horror films remain on the fringes of Bollywood. Most aren’t released in theaters internationally and are left to find their way into homes via DVD or streaming video. Still, when the Hindi film industry collectively decided (deliberately or not) in 2012 to increase the number of Bollywood movies released in North American theaters by a third — from 36 titles in 2011 to 48 in 2012, with an average of 50 Bollywood movies released here yearly since then — that left a lot of open slots to fill, leaving room for niche fare like horror flicks.

That’s not to say there was a Hindi horror boom in the United States and Canada. Most years only see one or two scary films released in theaters, plus a few titles that aren’t traditional horror fare like the horror comedy Go Goa Gone or the survival horror flick Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans.

Pari released in 45 theaters in North America: nine in Canada and 36 in the United States. That’s one more theater than carried NH10 — the maiden production from Sharma’s Clean Slate Films — back in 2015, but 42 fewer than the 87 that carried Clean Slate’s romantic comedy Phillauri last year (all numbers per Bollywood Hungama). Still, for a Hindi horror movie in North America, 45 theaters is about as big a theatrical footprint as you’ll find.

For the purposes of comparing to Pari, let’s look at other supernatural horror movies (which make up the bulk of Bollywood horror flicks). Here’s how such films have fared in North America over the years, in terms of: number of theaters they opened in; how much they earned total in their opening weekend; the average amount earned per theater in that opening weekend; and their final earnings total.

Raaz 3: 28 theaters; $95,301; $3,404 average; $150,716 total
Bhoot Returns: 15 theaters; $3,478; $232 average; $3,478 total

Ek Thi Daayan: 48 theaters; $65,857; $1,372 average; $112,135 total

Ragini MMS 2: 20 theaters; $16,317; $815 average; $16,317 total

1920 London: 38 theaters; $16,204; $426 average; $24,854 total

Dobaara: See Your Evil: 30 theaters; $7,110; $237 average; $11,002 total

1921: 10 theaters; $4,583; $458 average; $7,850 total

Pari opened with earnings of $118,906 — better than the final totals of all but one film in the list above (Raaz 3). Pari‘s $2,642 per-theater average was less than Raaz 3‘s $3,404 average, which only proves that Raaz 3 deserved a higher theater count than it got.

Where Pari really differentiated itself was in its second weekend performance. It held onto 54% of its opening weekend business ($64,247), which was leaps and bounds ahead of Raaz 3‘s 27% retention rate and Ek Thi Daayan‘s 21% carry over. By the end of its third weekend, Pari had earned $320,641 — more than double the next highest total on the list above.

The major takeaway from these numbers is that Hindi films in niche genres are more heavily dependent upon star power than those in more popular genres like romantic comedy or drama. The numbers also demonstrate which stars are able to draw North American Bollywood fans to the theater on their name alone. Sharma is obvious, as further bolstered by the box office success of her other home productions: NH10 ($319,872 total) and Phillauri ($471,522 total). Raaz 3 and Ek Thi Daayan star Emraan Hashmi is another clear box office draw, although his popular co-stars — Bipasha Bashu in Raaz 3 and the trio of Konkona Sen Sharma, Kalki Koechlin, and Huma Qureshi in Ek Thi Daayan — certainly helped. Both movies took in more than $100,000 here.

Yet no other recent Hindi horror film released theatrically in North America managed to earn even $25,000. Qureshi couldn’t do it opposite her real-life sibling, Saqib Saleem, in Dobaara. Despite their own name recognition and the fact that their movies were sequels, Sunny Leone and Sharman Joshi fell short with Ragini MMS 2 and 1920 London, respectively. With such dependence on the caliber of the cast, one wonders if Bollywood horror films without top-tier stars wouldn’t fare better by releasing straight to streaming services here in North America and skipping theaters entirely.

Opening March 23: Hichki

The great Rani Mukerji is back with the drama Hichki (“Hiccup“), in which she plays a teacher with Tourette Syndrome. Rani recently did a video interview with Brad Cohen, whose own experience as a teacher with Tourette’s — chronicled in his book, Front of the Class — inspired the movie. It’s worth checking out.

Hichki opens in the Chicago area on Friday, March 23, 2018, at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of just 1 hr. 46 min.

Raid gets a second week at all three of the above theaters. The South Barrington 24 carries over Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, while MovieMax hangs on to Pari and Padmaavat.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: March 16-18, 2018

Raid got off to a great start in North America, earning $345,668 from 78 theaters ($4,431 average)* during the weekend of March 16-18, 2018, according to Bollywood Hungama. Box Office Mojo reported even higher earnings of $423,817 from 77 theaters ($5,504 average).

Other Hindi movies still in theaters in the United States and Canada:

  • Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety: Week 4; $65,647 from 32 theaters; $2,051 average; $910,572 total
  • Padmaavat: Week 8; $18,678 from 16 theaters; $1,167 average; $12,140,306 total
  • Pari: Week 3; $9,197 from nine theaters; $1,022 average; $320,641 total
  • Welcome to New York: Week 4; $2,417 from two theaters; $1,209 average; $225,366 total
  • Pad Man: Week 6; $716 from four theaters; $179 average; $1,667,233 total
  • Aiyaary: Week 5; $65 from one theater; $642,278 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 Raid in 91 theaters (making for a $3,799 per-theater average).

Source: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening March 16: Raid

Ajay Devgn reunites with his Baadshaho costar Ileana D’Cruz for the crime drama Raid, which hits Chicago area theaters on March 16, 2018.

Raid opens on Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Raid has a listed runtime of 2 hours.

All three of the above theaters hold over Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. Pari gets a third week at the South Barrington 24 and MovieMax, which also carries over Pad Man and Padmaavat.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: March 9-11, 2018

Even though no new Bollywood movies released in North America during the weekend of March 9-11, 2018, there’s still plenty to write about. Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety went gangbusters in its third weekend of release with earnings of $124,250 from 45 theaters ($2,761 average). Its business fell just 16% from its second weekend to its third, which is remarkable considering the 2nd-3rd weekend drops for other Bollywood releases this year: Padmaavat (-56%); Pad Man (-70%); Welcome to New York (-81%); Aiyaary (-86%); Mukkabaaz (-99%). Great word of mouth — including a 7.8 user rating at IMDb and an 84% “liked it” score at Rotten Tomatoes — continued to drive audiences to the theater for SKTKS, which has current total earnings of $781,009.

Pari likewise held up really well in its second weekend of release, dropping just 46% of its opening weekend business (second best for the year behind SKTKS‘s 38% drop). It earned $64,247 from 37 theaters ($1,736 average), bringing its total to $281,324 so far. I wish more theaters had taken a chance on this horror flick (and I suspect they do, too).

Even in its seventh weekend of release, Padmaavat was still the third highest earning Hindi film in North America, taking in $49,494 from 26 theaters ($1,904 average). It finally crossed the $12 million mark, with total earnings of $12,093,933.

Welcome to New York was vastly more popular in Canada than the United States, with three Canadian theaters earning $4,245 compared to $911 from three US theaters. Contributions to its $220,383 North American total are almost evenly divided between the two countries, with Canada taking a slight edge despite the standard US-heavy screen disparity.

Other Bollywood movies showing in US theaters:

  • Pad Man: Week 5; $4,409 from seven theaters; $630 average; $1,664,077 total
  • Aiyaary: Week 4; $2,205 from four theaters; $551 average; $641,064 total

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

In Theaters: March 9, 2018

Although trailers for 3 Storeys and Dil Juunglee ran before Welcome to New York locally, neither movie is releasing in Chicagoland. Here are the Bollywood movies carrying over in Chicago theaters the weekend beginning Friday, March 9, 2018:

The horror flick Pari gets a second week at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington. Both theaters and the Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville hang on to Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and Padmaavat as well.

The South Barrington 24 gives Aiyaary a fourth weekend, and MovieMax carries over Welcome to New York and Pad Man.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: March 2-4, 2018

Pari‘s seemingly modest opening weekend numbers in North America are more impressive than they appear, given a few mitigating factors. From March 2-4, 2018, Pari earned $118,906 from 45 theaters ($2,642 average). A six-figure opening weekend for a Hindi horror movie is darned good here (more on that later this week). It also made several thousand more dollars than Welcome to New York did on twice as many theaters last weekend. Pari‘s performance cements Anushka Sharma as one of the few Bollywood actresses who can bring international moviegoers to the theater on her name alone, without an A-list male co-star.

Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety posted a super second weekend, carrying over more than 60% of its opening weekend business. The romantic comedy earned $147,989 from 72 theaters ($2,055 average), bringing its total after ten days to $519,080.

Welcome to New York headed in the opposite direction, losing 75% of its opening weekend business. It took in $27,423 from 28 theaters ($989 average), pushing its total to $193,254.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Padmaavat: Week 6; $72,310 from 63 theaters ($1,148 average); $11,978,304 total
  • Pad Man: Week 4; $19,179 from 25 theaters ($767 average); $1,642,915 total
  • Aiyaary: Week 3; $11,844 from 26 theaters ($456 average); $628,417 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening March 2: Pari

Anushka Sharma’s latest home production — the horror movie Pari — hits Chicago area theaters on March 2, 2018.

Pari opens on Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 14 min.

Welcome to New York gets a second weekend at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. All three theaters also hold over Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, as does the AMC River East 21 in Chicago.

Pad Man carries over for a fourth week at MovieMax, Cantera 17, and AMC Dine-In Rosemont 18 in Rosemont. All three theaters hold on to Aiyaary for a third week, as does the South Barrington 24.

Padmaavat — which continues to perform well at the North American box office — sticks around for a sixth week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend: