One strange bit of Amazon housekeeping is that Yash Raj Films added new versions of several movies that were already on Prime, and the old links no longer work at all. It’s not that the listing remains and says the movie isn’t available on Prime — you get a “Page Not Found” error when you follow the link. I updated my list with the new links I’ve found, but here they are just in case you’ve got the old links in your bookmarks (if you find any other YRF Amazon Prime links in my list that no longer work, please leave a comment and let me know):
I could write an entire post about Shahrukh Khan romances on Netflix, given his fondness for the genre. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is a more recent SRK romantic-comedy than Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, but it’s hard to resist watching him woo Kajol in a true classic. My review
As for romances starring actors other than SRK, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan is a light-hearted rom-com. Imran Khan plays matchmaker for his brother, Ali Zafar, only to fall in love with Katrina Kaif, the woman he’s chosen to be his brother’s bride. Fun dance numbers and sweet characters make this a really enjoyable film. My review
If you’re looking for flashy dance numbers, then Band Baaja Baaraat is where it’s at. For two wedding planners — played by Anushka Sharma and Ranveer Singh — getting down is part of the job. The relationship drama ramps up in the second half, but overall, this movie is a lot of fun. My review
Vidya Balan and Shahid Kapoor are lauded these days for their gripping dramatic performances, but back in 2008, they made a romantic comedy together. It’s worth checking out these seasoned thespians in some lighter fare from earlier in their careers. My review
North American Bollywood fans were in the mood for love, turning out in impressive numbers for the romantic comedy Hasee Toh Phasee. In its opening weekend in 88 U.S. and Canadian theaters, the film earned $336,985 (according to Box Office Mojo).
Hasee Toh Phasee‘s per screen earnings of $3,829 bested every other film in the top twenty-five apart from The LEGO Movie and The Monuments Men, which finished the weekend in first and second place, respectively.
The success of Hasee Toh Phasee points to an upward trend in the young careers of the two lead actors: Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra. This is only Malhotra’s second film after 2012’s Student of the Year, which earned $326,508 from 106 theaters ($3,080 per screen) in its opening weekend in North America, going on to earn a total of $670,086.
Chopra had greater success with 2013’s Shuddh Desi Romance. It earned $345,624 from 116 theaters ($2976 per screen) in its first weekend, finishing its North American run with $641,000 in total earnings.
Distributor Reliance Big Pictures should be pleased if Hasee Toh Phasee ends up earning around $650,000 in the U.S. and Canada.
What stands out most on my Top Ten list for 2013 is the diversity of genres represented. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there’s a really good movie on this list. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
In addition to the great variety on the list, all the movies mentioned are accessible to an international audience. Familiarity with Hindi movies and their structure may enhance one’s appreciation of Phata Poster Nikla Hero or Commando: A One Man Army, but a lack of prior experience shouldn’t keep Bollywood newcomers from enjoying them. In fact, Commando‘s best selling point is that it’s a martial arts action flick with a romantic dance number in the middle.
D-Day also features my single favorite scene in any movie from 2013: a heartbreaking song montage about the doomed relationship between an assassin (Arjun Rampal) and a prostitute (Shruti Haasan).
My favorite Hindi movie of 2013 offers the perfect mix of passion and drama in a beautiful setting. If I could dream up an ideal romantic movie, it would be Lootera. [Buy it on DVD here.]
Writers Vikramaditya Motwane and Bhavani Iyer took a short story by O. Henry and adapted it to depict a tumultuous time period in India, as family fortunes were dismantled in the years following partition. Imagine trying to cope with the heightened emotions of first love while your way of life is turned on its head. Such are the circumstances for Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) and her beau, Varun (Ranveer Singh).
Fans of Victorian literature or contemporary period dramas like Downton Abbey: Lootera is made for you.
Both the South Barrington 30 and Golf Glen 5 carry Chennai Express ($5,294,853) this weekend. South Barrington also holds on to Satyagraha ($736,826), while the Golf Glen 5 is showing Shuddh Desi Romance. As if to underscore what a lousy weekend this is for new Hindi films — no offense, Warning — Golf Glen is even bringing back the July release Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
The action-comedy Phata Poster Nikla Hero opens in Chicago area theaters on September 20, 2013. I’m not impressed with Shahid Kapoor’s acting in the trailer, but the bit with Sanjai Mishra as a fraudulent screenwriter is hilarious. Check it out:
Last weekend’s despicable new release, Grand Masti — which earned $223,222 in its first weekend in the U.S. — carries over at all four of the above theaters.
The terrific romcom Shuddh Desi Romance gets a third week at the Golf Glen 5, Cantera 17, and South Barrington 30, which is also holding over Satyagraha ($724,088 in the U.S.) and Chennai Express ($5,266,322 in the U.S.).
Only one new Hindi movie is set to open in Chicago area theaters on September 13, 2013, and it looks painful. The bawdy comedy Grand Masti stars Ritesh Deshmukh, Vivek Oberoi, and Aftab Shivdasani as three guys trying to cheat on their wives. If you have to include this many exclamation points in your official plot synopsis, your movie probably isn’t that funny.
Grand Masti opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. (Note: At the showing I attended at the Cantera this morning, the film had no English subtitles.) If you just can’t wait until tomorrow to see Grand Masti, the River East 21 has a pair of showings tonight. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min.
Sadly, John Day isn’t opening in the Chicago area.
Last weekend’s other new release, Zanjeer, carries over at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17. The Golf Glen 5 is holding over the film’s Telugu version, Thoofan, for a second week, but not the Hindi version.
Satyagraha gets a third week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17, having earned $672,951 in the U.S. so far. With total U.S. earnings of $5,220,926, Chennai Express chugs along for a sixth week at the Cantera 17 and South Barrington 30, which also holds over Madras Cafe for fourth week.
Whether we want to admit it or not, romantic relationships are both public and private. Society demands to know how its members fit together. Shuddh Desi Romance (released internationally as “Random Desi Romance“) explores how the social nature of romantic partnerships is changing in India, as arranged marriages fall out of fashion.
This exploration takes place via a love triangle involving Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput), Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra), and Tara (Vaani Kapoor). The story begins on the way to Raghu’s arranged marriage to Tara, an arrangement he agrees to because he figures he’ll never meet anyone else as pretty. On the overnight bus ride to the wedding, Raghu does meet another pretty woman: Gayatri, who, like Raghu, makes a living as a paid guest hired to fill out anemic wedding parties.
On the bus, Raghu realizes that he’s made a mistake in agreeing to marry the first pretty woman he meets. Failing to learn his lesson, he immediately falls in love with Gayatri. Raghu flees in the middle of the wedding ceremony under the pretext of going to the bathroom (setting up a running gag throughout the rest of the film).
Poor Raghu is semi-permanently flummoxed. He follows his heart blindly, only to emerge from his romantic haze to find that something has gone wrong, and he has no idea why. During his more lucid moments, Raghu is earnest and charming, which is the only reason self-assured women like Gayatri and Tara have anything to do with him.
What Gayatri and Tara understand is that one’s actions in romance have both private and public meaning. The consequences of running out on your own wedding are obvious to everyone, but even sharing dinner in a restaurant is a public display of togetherness, even if only for the duration of the meal. Nosy parents, friends, neighbors, and relatives all over the world ask the same questions of every young couple: “Is this relationship serious? When are you getting married? When are you having kids?”
Writer Jaideep Sahni uses a clever trick to allow his young adult characters to explore the meaning of love for themselves: he writes their parents out of the narrative. The only interfering elders are Tara’s overprotective uncle (played by Rajesh Sharma) and the caterer who employs Gayatri and Raghu as wedding extras (played by Rishi Kapoor in a very funny supporting role).
The lead actors are outstanding, particularly Rajput, who anchors the story. He manages to make Raghu confused, but not a total dimwit. He’s just way out of his depth with the two women in his life.
Parineeti Chopra is something special. Like her character in Ishaqzaade, she again plays an independent woman who falls for a man against her better judgement. As cautious as Gayatri is, she’s just as susceptible to getting lost in the moment as Raghu.
Vaani Kapoor is terrific in her film debut. Her finest moment is during her jilting at the altar. When it becomes apparent that Raghu has fled, Tara — clad in her wedding finery — calmly sits in the chair and asks someone to bring her a Coke. It’s such a boss move.
In trying to depict a realistic modern romance, director Maneesh Sharma eschews the use of a lot of background music, favoring street noise instead. He also allows conversations and scenes to play out at a slow pace. At times, it feels the audience is given too much time to think about what’s happening, an irony given Raghu’s penchant for acting without thinking. Fortunately, a moderately short runtime keeps the film from feeling too bogged down in exposition.
Shuddh Desi Romance is smart, funny, and full of great performances. It’s worth seeing ASAP.
Two new Hindi flicks hit Chicago area screens on September 6, 2013. Shuddh Desi Romance (listed at some theaters as “Random Desi Romance“) features rising stars Parineeti Chopra and Sushant Singh Rajput alongside newcomer Vaani Kapoor in a romcom love triangle.
Also new in theaters this weekend is Zanjeer, a remake of the 1973 film of the same name starring Amitabh Bachchan. The remake stars Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra, and Sanjay Dutt.
Zanjeer opens on Friday at the River East 21, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. Its runtime is listed at IMDb as 2 hrs. 17 min. The Golf Glen 5 is also carrying the Telugu version of Zanjeer, Thoofan.
After posting solid earnings of $500,402 over the extended holiday weekend in the U.S., Satyagraha gets a second week at the River East 21, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.
Madras Cafe gets a third weekend at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17.
Chennai Express is still going strong with earnings of $5,122,240 in the U.S. so far. It gets a fifth weekend at the South Barrington 30, Woodridge 18, and Cantera 17.