Salman Khan scored another massive hit in North America with Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. From November 12-15, 2015, PRDP earned $2,746,673 from 310 theaters in the United States and Canada, according to Bollywood Hungama. That’s an average of $8,860 per theater over the film’s first four days. (Box Office Mojo puts the film’s four-day earnings at $2,813,018 from 287 theaters, for an average of $9,801.)
When looking at the traditional Friday-Saturday-Sunday total, PRDP‘s $2,359,703 ranks second for the year in North America, behind Salman’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan ($2,613,192). Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s opening weekend total is even more impressive considering that it opened in 34 fewer theaters than PRDP.
The next Bollywood film likely to open in North American theaters is Tamasha on November 27, giving PRDP a second weekend with no direct competition. Will that be enough for PRDP to eclipse Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s impressive North American total earnings of $8,114,714?
Two other Hindi films went largely ignored in North American theaters over the weekend:
Shaandaar: Week 4; $806 from two theaters; $403 average; $603,444 total
It has been two weeks since the last new Bollywood film opened in North America, so theater traffic was predictably slow over the weekend. Here are the results for the three Hindi movies showing in the United States and Canada from November 6-8, 2015.
Shaandaar: Week 3; $15,874 from 24 theaters; $661 average; $597,365 total
An absence of new Bollywood fare in theaters combined with Halloween falling on a Saturday led to a lackluster weekend at the North American box office. Shaandaar led the field in its second weekend in theaters. From October 30-November 1, 2015, it earned $93,878 from 124 theaters ($757 average). It has earned a total of $544,469 in North America so far.
The only other Hindi film showing in both the United States and Canada over the weekend was Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2. In its third weekend in theaters, it took in another $24,289 from 28 theaters ($867 average). Its total stands at $222,309.
As is often the case these days, Canadian theaters had to be much happier with the weekend’s results than their US counterparts. Canadian theaters showing Shaandaar averaged earnings of $1,387 per screen, versus $657 average in the US. Canadian theaters showing Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 averaged $1,154 per screen, versus $789 average in the US.
Other Hindi movies still showing in US theaters:
Jazbaa: Week 4; $530 from two theaters; $265 average; $402,303 total
Talvar: Week 5; $241 from two theaters; $121 average; $333,693 total
We’re entering a fallow period for Bollywood films here in the US, with nothing new likely to hit theaters until Salman Khan’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo opens on November 12. Just two Hindi films command space in Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning Friday, October 30, 2015.
The romantic comedy Shaandaar got off to a good start in North America, but how good depends on which source you believe. During the weekend of October 23-25, 2015, Bollywood Hungama reports that Shaandaar earned $299,195 from 136 theaters ($2,200 average). Combined with the movie’s collections from Thursday, its 4-day total stands at $336,304.
However, Box Office Mojo reports significantly higher figures for Shaandaar, including weekend earnings of $384,685 from 136 theaters ($2,892 average). Box Office Mojo’s 4-day total for Shaandaar is $433,541.
While I generally give more weight to the numbers collected by Rentrak and supplied by Bollywood Hungama, this time I’m inclined to put more faith in Box Office Mojo. Though both sources list the same number of theaters, Bollywood Hungama’s weekly update doesn’t include any earnings figures for Shaandaar from Canada, even though it opened in 17 theaters there. Possibly Rentrak folded the Canadian collections into the US collections, or maybe they didn’t collect data from Canada. Or maybe Bollywood Hungama didn’t report the Canadian data collected by Rentrak. Whatever the case, Bollywood Hungama’s weekly update seems incomplete. I’m going with Box Office Mojo this week.
In that case, Shaandaar is off to quite a good start. With no new Bollywood releases of note scheduled for the next two weekends — and no Hollywood blockbusters scheduled this coming weekend — Shaandaar has a chance to make some decent money in the next couple of weeks.
In its second weekend, Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 earned $39,123 from 36 theaters ($1,087 average), bringing its total to $183,779. Once again, it proved to be more popular in Canada than the US, with the per-screen average in the Canadian theaters ($1,771) nearly doubling the average in the American theaters ($891).
Other Hindi movies still playing in the US:
Talvar: Week 4; $5,116 from eight theaters; $640 average; $331,380 total
Jazbaa: Week 3; $2,005 from six theaters; $334 average; $400,680 total
Shaandaar (“Fabulous“) is not as polished as director Vikas Bahl’s runaway hit from 2014, Queen, yet there’s plenty to like in this romantic comedy. Bahl’s unique vision warrants a viewing.
Driving to his eldest daughter’s wedding at an English palace, Bipin (Pankaj Kapur) literally runs into a haughty motorcyclist (played by Shahid Kapoor). They engage in a war of words, inflamed by the googly eyes the biker makes at Bipin’s younger daughter, Alia (Alia Bhatt).
Bipin is dismayed when the biker turns out to be the family’s wedding coordinator, Jagjinder Joginder. Jagjinder immediately charms the bride-to-be, Isha (Sanah Kapoor), and her tough-as-nails grandmother (Sushma Seth).
As if the troublesome wedding coordinator weren’t bad enough, Bipin’s future in-laws — the Fundwanis — are a bunch of tacky boors. The groom-to-be, Robin (Vikas Verma), is a musclebound narcissist who shows up to his own wedding shirtless.
Shaandaar has a number of selling points. The relationship Bipin shares with his daughters is warm, though he’s particularly fond of Alia, whom he adopted as a little girl. Alia and Isha are protective of one another, especially since Isha’s mother and grandmother are quick to remind Alia that she is not Bipin’s biological child.
Alia and Shahid make a fun and attractive couple. Though both of their characters are precocious, Alia’s eyes twinkle with a particular mischievousness. Their frequent daydreams manifest in the form of flashbacks and hallucinations. When Jagjinder first sees Alia, he’s so smitten that he sees the dragonflies embroidered on her sweater take flight and swarm colorfully about her.
Some of the film’s flashbacks are animated, with Naseeruddin Shah on voiceover duty. The very opening to Shaandaar is a cartoon retelling of Alia’s adoption that explains the tension within the family. Though clever, the sequence is overly long.
That’s perhaps Shaandaar‘s single biggest problem: it’s too long. There are a number of scenes that should have been cut, since they fail to advance the plot or tell us anything about the characters that we don’t already know.
On a couple of occasions, the film’s negative characters — like Grandma, Robin, and Harry Fundwani (Sanjay Kapoor) — use offensive insults. For example, Harry asks a squinting Jagjinder if he is Chinese. The use of these insults is supposed to reflect poorly upon the speaker, but there’s ample evidence that the villains are the villains. The movie doesn’t need to trade in harmful stereotypes in order to establish that.
Robin’s character is the most offensive. His whole storyline is that he doesn’t want to marry Isha because she is overweight, and he makes sure that everyone knows that he finds her unappealing. While Isha has a moment of triumph later in the film, it feels as though it comes at too high a cost.
In fact, it’s time to retire the trope that marrying an overweight woman is a form of punishment. Movies like Dum Laga Ke Haisha and even Shaandaar empower their female characters, but too often the trope is used as a punchline. Akshay Kumar’s character in Singh Is Bliing flees the state rather than marry a heavy woman. It’s a tired plot device. Bollywood storytellers need to find a new reason for male characters not to want to marry female characters, preferably one that doesn’t have to do with the female characters’ looks.
As narrowly defined by her appearance as her character is, Sanah Kapoor is really terrific as Isha. Sanah comes across naturally, despite this being her first film. Perhaps acting alongside her brother (Shahid) and father (Pankaj) helped evoke such a comfortable, charming performance.
Another highlight of Shaandaar is the choreography by Bosco-Caesar that accompanies Amit Trivedi’s catchy tunes. It’s hard to resist dancing along to “Shaam Shaandaar” and “Gulaabo.”
Shaandaar warrants a special warning for international viewers like myself. The movie is less accessible than other mainstream Hindi films. From a practical standpoint, the English subtitles appear on screen in a white font with no drop-shadow, rendering them invisible against light backgrounds. When the characters speak in English, the words spoken are often different from those written in the subtitles.
There are additional problems from a contextual standpoint. Harry — the head of the Fundwani family — talks incessantly about his status as a “Sindhi” ambassador and his feeling that every person of repute is a “Sindhi.” The significance of being a Sindhi isn’t explained at all, which is frustrating, because this is all Harry ever talks about.
Because of Shaandaar‘s flaws, it can’t be called a complete success. It fulfills genre obligations by being both funny and romantic, but it’s definitely not a movie for everyone. Still, it doesn’t look like any other romantic comedies out there, and it deserves accolades for that. If only more filmmakers were as ambitious as Vikas Bahl.