Tag Archives: Rockstar

Best Bollywood Movies of 2011

2011 was a standout year for Bollywood in terms both experiments with storytelling style and elevating the status of women in the film industry. Here are my picks for the best movies of the year. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

There were some good examples of familiar narratives — including the family drama Patiala House and the romantic comedy Mere Brother Ki Dulhan — but plenty of films pushed the envelope. Ra.One lead the Hindi film industry’s foray into 3D technology. Rockstar experimented with making a movie feel like an extended music video.

The most successful experiments of the year were created by Aamir Khan Productions. The company released two intriguing films — Dhobi Ghat and Delhi Belly  — with runtimes that clocked in at under two hours long, uncharacteristically brief for Indian movies. Further, the company insisted that the films show in theaters without the standard intermission break, paving the way for future success in international markets.

2011 was a tremendous year for women working in the Hindi film industry. Director Zoya Akhtar struck box office gold with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Actresses Vidya Balan and Kalki Koechlin played gritty, compelling main characters in The Dirty Picture and That Girl in Yellow Boots, respectively.

My favorite movie of the year also features a strong, complex woman as the lead character, in a story surprisingly macabre for Bollywood.

The Best Bollywood Movie of 2011 is 7 Khoon Maaf.

Talented director Vishal Bhardwaj puts his unique stamp on this dark comedy about a black widow and her seven husbands. In the lead role, Bhardwaj cast Priyanka Chopra, an actress who’s made a point of choosing a diverse array of characters throughout her career. Chopra manages to make the serial killer Susanna calculating yet sympathetic. Better still, the movie is often quite funny as the grim tale unfolds.

7 Khoon Maaf isn’t quite like any other Hindi movie released in recent years. Look past the dance numbers and cast of Indian A-listers, and it could easily transcend the “Bollywood” label — and instead be considered a “Foreign Film” (a genre with more critical cachet here in the US).

The movie is available for streaming on Netflix, making it accessible to an audience who may have missed it in theaters early last year. If you haven’t seen 7 Khoon Maaf, I encourage you to check it out.

Previous Best Movies Lists

Opening December 2: I Am Singh and The Dirty Picture

The weekend beginning December 2, 2011, sees two new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area. I Am Singh — a drama about one Sikh family’s experience in the U.S. after 9/11 — gets the wider release of the two new films.

I Am Singh 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. 7 min.

This weekend’s other new release is The Dirty Picture, based on the life of South Indian ’80s bombshell Silk Smitha. The film reunites two of the stars of Ishqiya, Naseeruddin Shah and Vidya Balan, who plays Silk in the new film.

The Dirty Picture opens on Friday at the South Barrington 30, Cantera 17 and Golf Glen 5, which is also carrying the movie’s Telugu-dubbed version. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 33 min.

After earning $702,325 in the U.S. over the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend, Desi Boyz gets a second week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17. The South Barrington 30 is also carrying over Rockstar.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Mayakkam Enna (Tamil) and the Telugu films Bezawada, Solo and Sri Rama Rajyam.

Opening November 23: Desi Boyz

Desi Boyz — a Hindi remake of The Full Monty — hits Chicago area theaters November 23, 2011. Though its official release date is the 25th, American theaters are getting it a couple of days early to take advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday. The movie stars John Abraham, Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone.

Desi Boyz opens on Wednesday 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 runtime of 2 hrs. 2 min.

Rockstar carries over at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30, having earned $911,064 in its first two weeks in U.S. theaters.

The Golf Glen 5 is also carrying Hero Hitler in Love (Punjabi) and the Telugu films Oh My Friend and Sri Rama Rajyam.

In Theaters November 18, 2011

While no new Hindi movies will open in the Chicago area the weekend beginning Friday, November 18, there are still a couple of entertaining Bollywood flicks in theaters worth checking out.

Last weekend’s new release, Rockstar, carries over at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It earned $612,235 in its opening weekend in U.S. theaters.

Ra.One, which has earned $2,443,659 in three weeks in U.S. theaters, carries over in 3D and 2D at the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Bezawada (Telugu), Hero Hitler in Love (Punjabi), Oh My Friend (Telugu), Sri Rama Rajyam (Telugu) and Vithagan (Tamil).

Movie Review: Rockstar (2011)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

The trailer for Rockstar presented the movie as a typical rom-com in which a dork melts an ice queen’s heart before the interval, only to have obstacles to their love thrown in their path for the second half of the movie. Rockstar is less conventional than that. At times, it’s an extended music video, at others a hypnotic tale of passion. It’s not always successful, but director Imtiaz Ali deserves credit for trying something different.

As in Ali’s two previous hits — Jab We Met and Love Aaj KalRockstar features a hero unable to articulate his feelings for his beloved, even if it means losing her to another man. This time the tongue-tied protagonist is Janardhan (Ranbir Kapoor), a dorky college kid with superstar ambitions.

Cafeteria-owner Khatana (Kumud Mishra) tells Janardhan that his life has been too easy, and that all musicians must suffer for their art. Janardhan’s real problem is a lack of charisma and a fondness for unflattering sweater vests, but that’s not much of a movie set-up.

Janardhan humiliates himself in a clumsy effort to woo the most popular girl in school, Heer (Nargis Fakhri), who’s already engaged to a rich guy from Prague. The two become pals, and she gives him the stage name “Jordan.” She also gives him an opportunity to express his feelings for her and perhaps forestall her marriage. He doesn’t take it, and Heer heads to Prague.

To this point — about the first hour of a 2-hour 40-minute movie — the story is laid out rather predictably: the kids have fun in seedy back alleys and amidst beautiful scenery in Kashmir, the setting for Heer’s wedding. The snowy mountain passes and gorgeous costumes are a real highlight.

Things veer from the expected during the film’s second hour. It begins not chronologically, but rather with a reporter investigating Jordan’s early career. It’s two years after Heer’s wedding, and Khatana recounts the emotion collapse that preceded Jordan’s rise to Indian rock stardom. An international music competition brings Jordan to Prague where he and Heer rekindle their interrupted romance, despite her now-married status.

Much of this storyline unfolds through A.R. Rahman’s incredible soundtrack. The second hour of Rockstar is primarily a string of music videos, the lyrics of Jordan’s music (voiced by Mohit Chauhan) providing insight into his emotional growth in way he can’t express in conversation. Thankfully, the lyrics are translated really well, allowing the story to unfold in an intriguing way.

Kapoor and Fakhri are terrific together. Their love scenes are sexy and passionate. Fakhri’s big screen debut is a promising one, as she plays Heer with the right mix of vulnerability and strength.

It’s unfortunate, then, that the movie ends the way that it does. While the movie’s main character is clearly Jordan, the second hour of the film gives equal weight to the choices both he and Heer must make. As the movie shifts into its third and final timeframe, Heer’s choices are taken from her, reducing her from a lead character to a mere catalyst for Jordan’s emotional growth.

That disservice to Heer’s character — along with an awkward bridge between the final shot of the movie and the closing credits, made up of scenes of Jordan and Heer in happier times — left me with mixed feelings about the movie. It’s uneven (and too long, of course), but the solid performances, beautiful scenery and intriguing story-telling mechanism make it worth a trip to the theater.

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Opening November 11: Rockstar

The new Hindi release hitting Chicago area theaters this weekend is Rockstar, starring Ranbir Kapoor as an aspiring musician who courts heartbreak in an effort to further his art.

Rockstar opens on Friday, November 11, 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. 40 min.

All three theaters are also carrying over the 3D superhero flick Ra.One, which earned $2,229,372 in its first two weekends in U.S. theaters.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include the Telugu films Dookudu, It’s My Love Story, Mogudu and Oh My Friend.

In Theaters November 4, 2011

After posting worldwide collections of $35 million in its first week, it’s no surprise that Ra.One continues to dominate screenspace the weekend beginning Friday, November 4, 2011. The next new Bollywood movie likely to open in Chicago area theaters is Rockstar on November 11.

Ra.One carries over in 3D and 2D at the AMC Loews 600 North Michigan 9 and AMC Ford City 14 in Chicago, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. The Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles is carrying the film in 2D only. The 2D version of Ra.One showing at the Cantera isn’t subtitled, so check with your local theater before buying tickets.

The Tamil sci-fi thriller 7aum Arivu expands its reach this week, opening at the South Barrington 30 on Friday. The Golf Glen 5 carries over the original Tamil version as well as the Telugu-dubbed version, 7th Sense, for a second week.

Other Indian films showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Snehaveedu (Malayalam) and Velayudham (Tamil).