I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a ton of new additions to the catalog. Netflix kicked off 2016 by adding seventeen (!) Hindi movies to the streaming catalog, along with a number of movies in other Indian languages, most notably director Mani Ratnam’s 2015 Tamil hit OK Kanmani. I added a category for films in other Indian languages at the bottom of my Netflix page. (January 2 update: Dum Laga Ke Haisha is also now on Netflix!)
Here’s a list of all the Bollywood films added to Netflix today:
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! and Piku are two of my favorite movies of 2015, and I can’t wait to check out Randeep Hooda in Main Aur Charles, which didn’t open in US theaters. A number of these films — like Katiyabaaz and Kshay — were hits on the festival circuit, and this is the first opportunity for a wide audience to see them. Same for the Gujarati film The Good Road, India’s official submission to the 86th Oscars, which was also added today.
The Chicago South Asian Film Festival kicks off its sixth annual festival on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. This year includes new competitive categories for features and short films, in addition to a slate of other features and shorts with a connection to South Asian culture.
I’ve reviewed several of the movies showcased at this year’s festival, including:
Patang — The festival begins with a special showing of Patang in memory of its director, Chicagoan Prashant Bhargava.
Dhanak — This adorable picture starts the day on Saturday, October 3, with a showing at 9 a.m.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge — In honor of its twentieth anniversary, the Bollywood classic gets a special showing on Saturday, October 3, at 5:45 p.m.
Hunterrr — One of the festival’s competitive features, this romantic-comedy-drama runs Saturday, October 3, at 9 p.m., followed by a Q&A session with director Harshavardan Kulkarni.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha — This delightful romantic-comedy didn’t release in the US theaters earlier this year when it released in India, so this is a great chance for Chicagoans to finally see it on the big screen. It runs in the non-competitive category on Saturday, October 3, at 9:30 p.m.
G – A Wanton Heart — Director Rahul Dahiya’s social drama makes its world premiere at the festival on Sunday, October 4, at 2 p.m.
If you can’t attend the festival in person, you can still catch several of these great films at home on the following platforms:
2012 was a good year for Hindi movies. Of the fifty 2012 releases that I reviewed this year, thirty-one earned positive reviews of 2.5-stars or higher. The ten films below were the best of the best. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
English Vinglish — a personal drama about a mother’s quest to regain her self-worth — proved to be one of the years most delightful surprises, thanks to a triumphant return to the big screen by Sridevi.
I awarded a perfect four-stars to three movies this year — movies that could not be more different from one another. Supermen of Malegaon is one of the most fun and fascinating documentaries I’ve ever seen. While it never released theatrically in the U.S., the whole movie is available for free with English subtitles on YouTube.
Evaluated in a vacuum, Barfi! is a wonderful and heart-wrenching movie. But given director Anurag Basu’s apparent lifting of whole scenes from other films, I have trouble recommending it with a clear conscience. Therefore, I instead recommend the (unfortunately-titled) Jism 2, a movie so bad, it’s good. There’s no movie I had more fun watching in 2012.
The best film of the year was a meticulously crafted thriller with character development to spare and a magnificent, evocative setting. My best Bollywood movie of 2012 is Kahaani.
This is a movie I could watch over and over again. Vidya Balan reaffirms that she’s the most talented actress working in Hindi films at the moment. Her co-star, Parambrata Chatterjee, holds his own alongside her, playing a police officer with a crush that’s doomed to go nowhere.
One aspect of Kahaani I particularly appreciate is its positive take on marriage. Balan plays Vidya, a pregnant woman from London searching for her husband, Arnab, who’s gone missing in Kolkata. Everyone tries to tell her that he has probably just run out on her, but she refuses to believe them. She knows in her heart that not only would he never leave their unborn baby, but he wouldn’t leave her, either.
So often, we’re confronted with cultural tropes that portray marriage negatively. Husbands are depicted as either incorrigible philanderers or hapless morons barely tolerated by wives who only need them for baby-making and yardwork.
Isn’t it more satisfying to see an onscreen marriage in which both partners really know and value each other? That’s what makes Vidya’s search so frustrating and engrossing: there’s real love at stake.
It’s an exciting weekend for Boman Irani fans like myself. The romantic comedy Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi opens in three Chicago area theaters on August 24, 2012. (Question for Hindi speakers: what does the title translate to in English? Update: The English subtitled lyrics for the title track are translated as “Shirin-Farhad Made It.”)
Another cool opportunity for Chicago area Hindi film fans this weekend is the chance to participate in a Q&A with the director of Patang, Prashant Bhargava. Mr. Bhargava is hosting several question and answer sessions following showings of Patang at Facets Cinematheque in Chicago.
The family comedy Ferrari Ki Sawaari gets a third weekend at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30, having earned $377,448 in the U.S. so far. Patang — my pick for the best Hindi film currently showing in area theaters — carries over at the Golf Glen 5.
Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include the Malayalam movie Spirit, the Tamil film Saguni and its Telugu version, Shakuni.
Access Bollywood reader TS alerted me to a new trailer for Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger that has English subtitles. The film releases on August 15. Enjoy:
A kite festival sounds like a serene setting for a film, but kite flying is a kind of contact sport in India. That knowledge adds depth to the festive backdrop of Patang (“The Kite”), a lovely film by debutant director Prashant Bhargava.
The action in Patang takes place over three days around Uttarayan, the annual kite festival in Ahmedabad. Jayesh (Mukkund Shukla) returns to his hometown after five years away to show the festival to his adult daughter, Priya (Sugandha Garg). Priya uses her video camera to record festival preparations, which include merchants strengthening kite string with a paste made from boiled rice before coating the string in ground glass. The glass-coated string allows competitors to slice the strings of opposing kites
Jayesh is financially well-off, so a lack of funds can’t explain the infrequency of his visits from his home in Delhi. The hostile reception he gets from his nephew, Chakku (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), offers a clue. Jayesh is received more warmly by his mother and his sister-in-law, Sudha (Seema Biswas), wife of his deceased older brother.
As Jayesh tries to recreate the kite-flying triumphs of his youth at a party for friends and family, it becomes apparent that he is a know-it-all. He scolds Priya for wearing a tank top and dancing in public, fearful that she’ll ruin his reputation. This drives her straight into the arms of a cute electronics store clerk, Bobby (Aakash Maheriya).
Jayesh has other plans aimed at improving the lives of his relatives, but he sets them in motion without asking for their consent. Sudha picks up on something about Jayesh: for a guy who seems to have all the answers, he doesn’t seem happy.
The story in Patang unfolds slowly and without a typical narrative structure. The film is presented in an almost documentary-style format, as though a camera crew dropped in for the three days of the festival and left immediately after. It’s enjoyably languid, but not slow.
The downside of shooting documentary-style is that it’s often impossible not to be aware of the camera. Shots are interrupted by passersby. The camera is sometimes set at an awkward distance from the actors. And the editing occasionally consists of rapid-fire cuts between closeups of the actors’ faces.
There were moments when I wanted to be able to ignore the technique and just watch what was happening. The best shots in the whole movie come from a stationary camera pointed at the sky, watching the kites as they soar.
The performances are universally sound, anchored by Seema Biswas as Sudha. After the death of her husband, Sudha becomes the head of the household, though she defers to her mother-in-law. Biswas portrays Sudha as a woman whose good-nature isn’t overwhelmed by her tremendous responsibilities or Jayesh’s attempts to control things from afar. She treats Priya with a warmth the girl doesn’t get from her father.
The most intriguing relationship is between Chakku and a street kid named Hamid (Hamid Shaikh). Chakku spends his days hanging with Hamid and several other boys of around ten, stealing from street vendors and shooting off fireworks. Perhaps Jayesh is right to suggest that it’s time for Chakku to grow up and get a real job.
Bhargava has a real knack for storytelling and atmosphere and gets great performances from his cast. I’m looking forward to his future films.
The other movie making its theatrical debut this weekend is Patang (“The Kite”), a terrific independent film that started making the festival rounds last year. It stars Seema Biswas and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Patang opens in Chicago on June 15 at the AMC River East 21 and June 22 at the Golf Glen 5. The film’s website has a complete list of opening dates and locations, which includes theaters in New York, New Jersey, California, and a number of Canadian cities. Given the film’s indie status, it’s only guaranteed one week at each theater (though that may increase if ticket sales are good). Catch it while you can. Patang has a runtime of 92 minutes.
Last weekend’s new release, Shanghai, gets a well-deserved second week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. Rowdy Rathore carries over for a third week at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30, having earned $654,352 in the U.S. so far.
The program begins on Friday night, October 7, with a gala presentation of Mausam. Director Pankaj Kapur will be in attendance, and the ticket price includes admission to an after-party following the movie. (I speak from experience that movie goers will likely need a drink after sitting through Mausam.)
Perhaps the real highlight of the event is the world premiere of Kshay (“Corrode”) the following night. This independent Hindi film follows a woman’s obsession with a statue of the goddess Lakshmi.
Members of Kshay‘s cast and crew will be on hand for all three of the film’s festival screenings, including director Karan Gour, a nominee in the New Directors competition. Gour will also participate in a free panel discussion on Monday titled “Beyond Bollywood,” highlighting India’s emerging independent film market.
If you plan on attending Saturday night’s premiere, arrive at least fifteen minutes early to enjoy a live performance of portions of the film’s score by a sextet of Chicago musicians.
Another festival entrant from India, Patang, has an interesting Chicago connection. Director Prashant Bhargava was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, but chose to film his first feature entirely in Ahmedabad. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote a blog post about the movie and his decades-long friendship with Bhargava’s father, Vijay.