Tag Archives: Raanjhanaa

Movie Review: Zero (2018)

0.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy/rent the movie at iTunes

Zero is a disaster for many reasons, but its biggest problem is that director Aanand L. Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma failed to realize that their film’s hero is a horrible person.

So why didn’t they notice that their creation, Bauua (Shah Rukh Khan), is an irredeemable prick? The filmmaking duo has a history of writing male leads who don’t respect the women they claim to love, like Kundan in Raanjhanaa and Manu in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. There’s also the assumption that Khan’s massive fanbase will automatically project their love for him onto his character, no matter who the character is or what he does.

Mostly they were blinded by the Zero‘s central conceit: using computer generated effects and film techniques similar to those used in the Lord of the Rings movies to shrink a superstar actor. Zero was never about the struggles of a man with dwarfism. If it were, they’d have at least gone through the pretext of casting a little person for the lead role. (Same goes for Anushka Sharma’s role as a woman with cerebral palsy.) This was always about spending a budget fives times as large as the filmmaking duo had previously worked with on fancy special effects and an expensive cast, trusting in those effects and stars to bring people to the theater — regardless of whether the movie was any good or not.

Other than his diminutive stature, nothing differentiates Bauua from any number of Bollywood male leads who believe their gender entitles them to anything they want. As the son of a rich father (played by Tigmanshu Dhulia), Bauua has coasted through life on Dad’s dime since dropping out of school in the tenth grade. Now aged 38 — Khan is 53, by the way — that means Bauua has spent twenty years doing absolutely nothing.

Nevertheless, he confidently turns down all the potential brides chosen by the matchmaker (played by Brijendra Kala) until he spots a photo of Aafia (Anushka Sharma). Bauua is initially turned off by the tremors caused by Aafia’s cerebral palsy, but he decides her use of a wheelchair makes them more-or-less equal. Never mind that he’s a high school dropout and she’s a world-renowned rocket scientist.

Bauua’s defining moment is his response to being rejected by Aafia after a presumptuous proposal in front of a bunch of elementary school students. Bauua shows up at a press conference to publicly humiliate Aafia, stating that while she may be able to lead a mission to Mars, she can’t pick up the pen he just dropped on the ground. Pleased with himself, he walks away, only to hear a commotion behind him as Aafia crawls on the ground and lifts the pen.

What Bauua does is unforgivable, yet Aafia immediately forgives him and their love blossoms. Aafia’s inexplicable forgiveness of Bauua is a clear example of Bollywood’s desperate need for female storytellers. Rai & Sharma aren’t done humiliating Aafia yet, as Bauua ditches her to take his shot with the country’s sexiest actress, Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif, in the movie’s only role with any semblance of believable humanity).

After the intermission break, Zero goes full bonkers. Bauua replaces a chimpanzee training for a space mission (which is totally not insulting to little people or anything).

I’m not sure if it’s an intentional homage, but Zero has a lot of parallels to my favorite So-Bad-It’s-Good movie: Gunda. Both have a monkey and a baby that shows up out of nowhere. Vengeful Bauua frequently speaks in movie lines, Gunda‘s Bulla in couplets. There are montages that make no geographical sense, as when Bauua spends a song stumbling through Times Square, downtown Orlando, and Huntsville, Alabama — all of which are supposed to be the same place, apparently. Zero‘s opening dream sequence even reminded me of the scene in Gunda where Bulla’s sister is raped.

All of which is to say, Zero is a terrible movie. The only reason it merits even a half-a-star rating is because Katrina Kaif is so damned good in her role. The rest of the movie is a trash fire.

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Streaming Video News: December 24, 2013

In celebration of Christmas, Eros Now has made a number of its premium titles available for streaming for free when you sign up for a trial subscription. Those titles include flicks from 2013, such as Lootera, Madras Cafe, Ek Thi Daayan, Grand Masti, Raanjhanaa, and — (cue the fanfare) — Krrish 3! If you’ve been waiting to check out the service, this is the perfect time to give it a try.

Eros Now also recently added Inkaar, which I’m eager to watch since it didn’t open in the U.S. It’s not included with the free trial, but Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh are hot enough that I can be swayed to shell out $7.99 for a month’s subscription.

Merry Christmas!

Streaming Video News: July 28, 2013

The horror film Ek Thi Daayan is now available on Eros Now free to subscribers or as a $1.99 rental. Despite an impressive cast and creepy atmosphere, Ek Thi Daayan lacks a coherent mythology to really make it work.

In other Eros Now news, the romance Raanjhanaa joins the catalog on Friday, August 2.

Opening July 12: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

The sports biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (“Run Milkha Run“) opens in the Chicago area on July 12, 2013.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 3 hrs. 8 min.

After earning $314,958 in its first weekend in U.S. theaters, Lootera carries over for a second week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.

Both the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17 are holding over Raanjhanaa for a fourth week, with U.S. earnings of $875,051 so far. The South Barrington 30 gives a seventh week to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Its U.S. earnings stand at $3,807,488.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Sahasam (Telugu), Saptapadii (Gujarati), Shutter (Malayalam), and Singam 2 (Tamil).

Opening July 5: Policegiri

Sanjay Dutt’s Policegiri opens on Friday, July 5, 2013, at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles.

Policegiri is the second new Hindi movie to open in Chicago area theaters this week, following Lootera‘s Wednesday opening at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Lootera expands to the Golf Glen 5 on Friday.

After earning $143,616 in its opening week in U.S. theaters, Ghanchakkar carries over for a second week in limited showings at the South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, and Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie. With total earnings of $756,233 so far, Raanjhanaa gets a third week at the Golf Glen 5, Cantera 17, and South Barrington 30, which also gives a sixth week to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani ($3,745,243 total in the U.S.).

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include ABCD: American-Born Confused Desi (Malayalam), Balupu (Telugu), Mallela Theeram Lo Sirimalle Puvvu (Telugu), Saptapadii (Gujarati), and Singam 2 (Tamil), which is also showing at the Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge.

Movie Review: Raanjhanaa (2013)

Raanjhanaafilmposter2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

What a difference perspective makes. Had Raanjhanaa been told from the point of view of Sonam Kapoor’s character, Zoya, it would’ve been a horror movie along the lines of Fatal Attraction.

Instead, the main character in Raanjhanaa is a scrappy guy named Kundan (Dhanush). He’s supposed to be a tragic romantic hero, but he’s actually a stalker so possessive of Zoya that he destroys her life.

Their one-sided romance starts harmlessly enough. Muslim Zoya and Hindu Kundan grow up in the same neighborhood. He flirts with her, and she doesn’t discourage him. Things progress as far as a hug before her parents learn of it and send her away. Kundan vows to wait for her forever, even though he’s only in tenth grade, and she’s in ninth.

Eight years later, Zoya returns and doesn’t recognize Kundan. When he reminds her that he’s the reason she was sent away, her memory sparks, but romance does not. She laughs off his marriage proposals and makes it clear that he resides in The Friend Zone.

Besides, Zoya is in love with someone else: Akram (Abhay Deol), a politically active classmate from college. Akram is everything that Kundan is not: rich, principled, educated, and motivated. Zoya says that she loves Akram because he treats her as an equal, not as an object of worship or a trophy to be guarded.

Kundan doesn’t take the hint and instead acts like a manipulative drama queen. He slits his wrists, then stages a sham marriage to his childhood friend, Bindiya (Swara Bhaskar) to try to make Zoya jealous. This is particularly cruel because Kundan knows that Bindiya is in love with him. Ultimately, Kundan robs Zoya of her home, family, love, and future, all because she doesn’t love him in return.

What makes Raanjhanaa more interesting than another recent stalker-as-hero movie, Ekk Deewana Tha, is that the movie acknowledges that Kundan is in the wrong. He recognizes his mistakes, and justice is served in the end.

Yet the fact that the story is told from Kundan’s perspective is problematic. Most of the movie’s second half is about Kundan trying to redeem himself in Zoya’s eyes, though his actions are heinous enough that he doesn’t deserve forgiveness. The fact that he believes his actions are motivated by love is itself a kind of self-administered absolution, a shield for behavior that would otherwise be deemed evil. Perhaps the story might have been more satisfying had Kundan realized during his atonement that what he feels for Zoya is obsession, not love.

The story is all the more tragic because Kundan is a different, more endearing person when he’s with his friends, Bindiya and Murari (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub). He’s more relaxed and playful, and the three share a great rapport. One of the movie’s best scenes is when Bindiya reluctantly agrees to help Kundan and Murari sink one of Zoya’s potential suitors, a doctor, by turning a medical check-up into an x-rated encounter.

The acting is uniformly good. Sonam Kapoor gives Zoya depth and allows her to grow throughout the film. Dhanush also gives a strong performance. It was nice to see a couple of romantic leading men portrayed by actors who don’t look like professional bodybuilders, for a change.

Raanjhanaa is entertaining, even if it is troubling. Zoya spells out exactly what modern women want in a love interest. Time for filmmakers to write their leading men accordingly.

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Opening June 28: Ghanchakkar

The crime caper Ghanchakkar — starring Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi — opens in the Chicago area on June 28, 2013. I am really, really excited to see this.

Ghanchakkar opens on Friday in five area theaters: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

After earning $414,211 in its first weekend in the U.S., Raanjhanaa carries over for a second week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. With total earnings of $3,637,806 so far, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani gets a fifth week at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17.

Other Indian movies showing locally this weekend include the Telugu film Balupu at the Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge and the Golf Glen 5, which is also carrying 3 Dots (Malayalam), Annakodi (Tamil), and Jatt & Juliet 2 (Punjabi).

Bonus Streaming Video News: Dabangg 2 is now available on Netflix.

Opening June 21: Raanjhanaa and Shortcut Romeo

Two new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area on June 21, 2013. The romance Raanjhanaa gets the wider release of the two.

Raanjhanaa opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

The Neil Nitin Mukesh thriller Shortcut Romeo opens on Friday at the Golf Glen 5.

Last weekend’s new release, Fukrey, was a huge disappointment at the U.S. box office, earning a mere $74,110 in its first three days. As a result, the South Barrington 30 is the only theater holding it over for a second week, and with just one showing per day at that.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, meanwhile, continues to perform well, with U.S. earnings of $3,394,010 so far. It gets a fourth week at all three of the above theaters.

Other Indian movies playing in the area this weekend include the Telugu comedy Action 3D at the Golf Glen 5 and at the Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, which is showing the movie in 3D and with English subtitles. The Golf Glen 5 also has the Tamil movie Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru and the comedy ABCD: American-Born Confused Desi (Malayalam).