Tag Archives: Ramaiya Vastaviya

How Do New Bollywood Heroes Fare in the US?

The upcoming release of Tiger Shroff’s A Flying Jatt got me thinking about just how hard it is to launch a career as a Bollywood hero abroad. It’s difficult enough to succeed in India, but even more so overseas, where fans aren’t bombarded with the same kind of media saturation. That’s assuming that a distributor is even willing to put your film in theaters. Although Arjun Kapoor is a star now, his first picture — Ishaqzaade — didn’t release in the United States.

A Flying Jatt is Shroff’s third release since his 2014 debut, a promising sign for his Bollywood career prospects (at least for a while). I looked at some of his contemporaries from 2010 on to see how they’ve fared since their debuts. I only considered actors who launched under similar circumstances to Shroff: first-time actors without previously established entertainment careers (regional films, singing, TV, etc.) who were the sole male lead in their film, as opposed to, say, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra who launched together in Student of the Year. Also, the hopeful hero’s film needed to be released in the United States (which excludes Kapoor and Saqib Saleem).

That leaves us with six contenders, including Shroff. Here they are, in order of their debuts:

Ranveer SinghBand_Baaja_Baaraat_poster
Debut film: Band Baaja Baaraat
Release date: December 10, 2010
US box office: $71,374
Of the 32 films that released in US theaters in 2010 for which I have data, Band Baaja Baaraat ranked 30th in total gross. That early hiccup didn’t hinder Singh’s rise to stardom. His most recent film — Bajirao Mastani — earned $6,653,317 last year.

Girish KumarRamaiyaVastavaiya
Debut: Ramaiya Vastavaiya
Release date: July 19, 2013
U.S. box office: $52,200
While $52,000 is nothing to crow about, Kumar’s followup film — Loveshhuda — made just $1,787 in the US earlier this year. Might be time to accept that this dog won’t hunt.

Shiv DarshanKarle_Pyaar_Karle_Movie_Poster
Debut: Karle Pyaar Karle
Release date: January 17, 2014
US box office: $3,110
I have an inexplicable fondness for Karle Pyaar Karle because of how hilariously horrible it is, and Shiv Darshan is especially awful in it. The only reason I don’t recommend the movie is because it’s racist near the end (also, I have no idea where to find it). You may not have a future as an actor, Shiv, but I’ll always remember you.

Tiger ShroffHeropanti_Poster
Debut: Heropanti
Release date: May 23, 2014
US box office: $63,172
While Heropanti wasn’t a hit here, Shroff’s followup — Baaghi — made $437,243 earlier this year. If A Flying Jatt can come close to that, it bodes well for Shroff’s longevity.

Armaan JainLekar_Hum_Deewana_Dil_poster
Debut: Lekar Hum Deewana Dil
Release date: July 4, 2014
US box office: $10,529
Even after rereading my review of Lekar Hum Deewana Dil, I still have no recollection of having seen it. That’s the kind of impression Armaan Jain made on me: none at all.

Sooraj PancholiHero
Debut: Hero
Release date: September 11, 2015
US box office: $83,973
Hero did comparatively well for a debut film, but Pancholi’s personal/legal problems could make studios consider him a liability, especially if he’s ever convicted of a crime related to Jiah Khan’s suicide. The jury’s still out on Pancholi, in more ways than one.

Box Office Sources: Box Office Mojo and Bollywood Hungama

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Bollywood Box Office: May 23-25

It’s incredibly difficult to launch a new Hindi film hero’s career in North America, where superstars have even greater box office value than they do in India. It’s no surprise, then, that first weekend returns for Tiger Shroff’s big screen debut, Heropanti, seem underwhelming. From May 23-25, 2014, Heropanti took in $31,556 from 20 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, a per-screen average of $1,578.

The truth is that Heropanti‘s numbers are actually good for a movie starring a newcomer. The first factor to consider is that Heropanti faced unusually tough and unexpected competition. Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiiyaan shifted its opening date to May 23 at the last minute. Kochadaiiyaan pulled in $491,643 from 122 theaters ($4,030 average), a figure that probably should’ve been higher given the Superstar’s clout and higher 3D ticket prices.

And both Heropanti and Kochadaiiyaan were blown out of the water by the Telugu film Manam. It earned $844,271 from 108 U.S. theaters for an average of $7,817 per screen.

Despite taking a hit from a pair of high-profile South Indian films, Heropanti‘s earnings hold up very well when compared to North American opening weekend performances by film’s starring other new or marginal heroes. Here are some examples from 2013 and 2014 (ordered by release date):

  • Rajeev Khandelwal in Table No. 21: $31,658 from 23 theaters; $1,376 average
  • Jackky Bhagnani in Rangrezz: $4,318 from 11 theaters; $393 average
  • Girish Kumar in Ramaiya Vastavaiya: $52,200 from 67 theaters; $779 average
  • Manish Paul in Mickey Virus: $24,100 from 48 theaters; $502 average
  • Shiv Darshan in Karle Pyaar Karle: $3,110 from 22 theaters; $141 average
  • Ajaz Khan in Ya Rab: $1,404 from 15 theaters; $94 average
  • Harman Baweja in Dishkiyaoon: $7,341 from 11 theaters; $667 average

Even with Priyanka Chopra as a costar, Ram Charan only grossed $81,117 from 79 theaters ($1,027 average) in the opening weekend of 2013’s Zanjeer. Only Dhanush had any success of note with his Hindi-film debut Raanjhanaa ($414,211 from 102 theaters; $4,061 average), and he had the advantage of having Sonam Kapoor for a costar.

The Lunchbox and 2 States were the only other Hindi films lingering in theaters over the Memorial Day weekend. With its theater count diminished to 57, The Lunchbox earned $86,749, bringing its total North American earnings to $3,706,362.

2 States earned $2,528 from five theaters to bring its total earnings to $2,190,307.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2013

This is the sixth “worst movies of the year” post I’ve written, and every year the worst movies share the same problems: bad plot construction, unintentionally unlikable protagonists, and the reprehensible treatment of female characters. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

Most of this year’s crop of bad movies have the standard problems, but I give credit to Zila Ghaziabad for making it onto the list for a whole new reason: failure to appreciate the strength of the Censor Board’s opposition to smoking.

While all Indian filmmakers know that scenes in which a character smokes are likely to be tagged with an onscreen warning that reads, “Cigarette smoking is injurious to health,” director Anand Kumar refused to capitulate in Zila Ghaziabad. As a result, the warning appears onscreen for nearly half of the movie. It’s so distracting that I’m almost convinced it was deliberate and that the whole movie is Kumar’s dig at the Censor Board.

Among movies that stunk in more conventional fashion, Bajatey Raho, Bullett Raja, and Fukrey were full of plot holes that never should’ve made it out of a first draft, let alone into a finished project. Fukrey wins bonus points for a racist scene in which a character refers to a group of black bodyguards as the “Chicago Bulls.”

I, Me aur Main and Ramaiya Vastavaiya were hampered by really, really unlikeable lead characters. Not to be outdone, Grand Masti featured not one, but three total jerks in leading roles. I’m awarding bonus points to Grand Masti for racism, sexism, and making a joke about gang rape.

Grand Masti wasn’t the only movie to try to make light of rape or treat it as a plot device. The threat of rape was used to provoke the male leads in R… Rajkumar and Himmatwala. Both movies try to make that case that a woman’s only defense against rape is a strong male family member or boyfriend.

As patronizing as that idea is, it’s still not as abhorrent as the violently sexist message of my worst film of 2013: 3G. This poorly written horror movie cites pornography as the primary reason romantic relationships fail, but never suggests that the problem lies with those who view porn. Instead, it explicitly blames the women who perform in porn (and implicitly blames any woman with a sex drive). Want to get rid of porn? Kill all the porn stars!

At the same time that the movie blames sexually active women for provoking the violence committed against them, directors Shantanu & Sheershak go out of their way to portray actress Sonal Chauhan as a sex object. The camera ogles her breasts and buttocks while she writhes around on the beach and on a kitchen island (something I’m guessing she doesn’t do for fun when she’s at home alone).

Shantanu & Sheershak fail to recognize their own hypocrisy. Who’s more responsible for Chauhan’s depiction as a sex object: Chauhan — a paid performer — or the men who told her what to do and how to pose, filmed her, paid her, and then counted on others to pay to watch what they filmed?

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2013

  1. 3G — Buy at Amazon
  2. Grand Masti — Buy at Amazon
  3. Himmatwala — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  4. Fukrey — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  5. Bullett Raja — Buy at Amazon
  6. R… Rajkumar — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  7. Ramaiya Vastavaiya — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  8. Zila Ghaziabad — Buy at Amazon
  9. I, Me aur Main — Buy at Amazon
  10. Bajatey Raho — Buy at Amazon

Previous Worst Movies Lists

Movie Review: Ramaiya Vastavaiya (2013)

R_Vastavaiya1 Star (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

“Weird Al” Yankovic has a song called “One More Minute” in which he lists the things he’d rather do than spend time with the woman who broke his heart. Examples include ripping out his own intestines and jumping onto a pile of thumbtacks. While watching Ramaiya Vastavaiya, I gained a new appreciation for the song. Ramaiya Vastavaiya is a stupid movie that I wish I’d never seen.

The film has an incredibly dorky opening. Raghu (Sonu Sood) sits in his cell on the eve of his release from jail, a beatific glow on his face as he stares at photo of himself and his little sister as children. The friendly jailer asks glowing Raghu how a nice guy like him ended up in the clink — it’s been seven years, and you’re just wondering this now, Mr. Jailer? — prompting Raghu to recount a tale of romance between two young people of different economic classes.

Mind you, Raghu isn’t one of the young lovers. The couple comprises his sister, Sona (Shruti Haasan) and her rich boyfriend, Ram (debutant Girish Kumar Taurani, whose father produced the film), whom she meets at a friend’s wedding at which Raghu is not present. Raghu would seem to be an odd choice to narrate a love story he wasn’t around to witness, but Sona’s romance with Ram is just a perfunctory plot contrivance. The story isn’t about how Ram woos the girl but about how he woos Raghu.

Ram is a textbook example of the male-fantasy hero of so many Hindi films (to be fair, many Hollywood films, too). He’s immature, annoying, and spoiled, yet he gets his salt-of-the-earth dream-girl anyway, no effort required. As poorly as the character is written, Taurani does his best to make Ram as irritating as possible.

Ram’s obligatory character growth in which he learns the value of hard work happens not to impress Sona, but to win over Raghu. This is made doubly hard since Raghu arrived at the friend’s wedding in time to witness Ram’s snobby mother accuse Sona of being a gold-digger and have her thrown out of the wedding.

Prabhu Deva’s schizophrenic directing style compounds the film’s many problems. Uncomfortable scenes such as the one involving Ram’s mother follow on the heels of pratfalls and slide-whistle sound effects. The second half of the movie is replete with bodily function gags and lots and lots of cow dung.

Action scenes are edited so jarringly that the action is hard to follow. The climactic fight scene — which ends in unexpected brutality — is so fast and erratic that I started to experience motion sickness.

While Prabhu Deva is renowned as a choreographer, the movie’s dance numbers are nothing special. There’s no context for the film’s big item number, which inexplicably finds Jacqueline Fernandez dolled up and dancing in a field.

Ramaiya Vastavaiya has two things going for it: 1) Shruti Haasan is really, really pretty, and 2) Paresh Ganatra is funny as the manservant Bijli. Is that enough to make me prefer watching Ramaiya Vastavaiya to having my blood sucked out by leeches? No.

Links

Opening July 19: Ramaiya Vastavaiya and D-Day

Two new Hindi films are set to open in Chicago area theaters on July 19, 2013. First up is the romantic comedy Ramaiya Vastavaiya, directed by Prabhu Deva.

Ramaiya Vastavaiya opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrinton 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. All three theaters list different runtimes for the film, ranging from 2 hrs. 20 min. to 2 hrs. 30 min.

Also new in theaters this week is the thriller D-Day, starring Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal and Rishi Kapoor.

D-Day also opens on Friday at all of the above theaters. The runtimes listed for it range from 2 hrs. 15 min. to 2 hrs. 33 min.

After earning $647,112 in its opening weekend in U.S. theaters, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag carries over for a second week at all three of the above theaters, plus the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. Many cinemas have reduced the number of daily showings of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in order to accommodate this week’s four new Hollywood releases, so check the listings before you head to the theater.

If you just can’t get enough Irrfan Khan, Life of Pi gets a limited national re-release on Friday, showing locally at the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Maryan (Tamil), Saptapadii (Gujarati), and the Telugu films Kevvu Keka and Sahasam.