I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Heera with the addition of two movies that released in theaters just last month! Bhoomi and Simran — which was kind of disappointing — are both now available for streaming. Heera also added two Tamil films that released theatrically in September, 2017: Hara Hara Mahadevaki and Thupparivaalan.
Absent competition from any new Bollywood releases, Judwaa 2 led the North American box office for a third straight weekend. From October 13-15, 2017, the comedy reboot earned $101,341 from 125 theaters ($811 average), becoming just the fifth Hindi film of the year to earn more than $100,000 in its third weekend of release. Its current total of $1,392,946 ranks Judwaa 2 in ninth place for the year.
Another bit of happy news (on a much more modest scale) is that Bareilly Ki Barfi posted the highest ninth-weekend earnings of the year, by a long shot. The $1,409 the romantic comedy earned from two theaters ($705 average) beat out Baahubali 2‘s Weekend 9 earnings of $726 from three theaters and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha‘s $120 from one theater — quite the feat for a movie whose widest release was 44 theaters! Bareilly Ki Barfi‘s total stands at $572,298.
Chef fared poorly in its second weekend in North America, earning $10,920 from 23 theaters ($475 average), bringing its total to $91,878.
Other Hindi movies still showing in the United States:
- Shubh Mangal Saavdhan: Week 7; $819 from one theater; $629,427 total
- Simran: Week 5; $505 from one theater; $405,394 total
- Tu Hai Mera Sunday: Week 2; $441 from five theaters; $88 average; $4,694 total
- Bhoomi: Week 4; $374 from two theaters; $187 average; $72,297 total
- Toilet — Ek Prem Katha: Week 10; $53 from one theater; $1872,300 total
Two new Hindi films had disastrous opening weekends in North America from October 6-8, 2017. The higher-profile release — Saif Ali Khan’s Chef — took in $57,179 from 64 theaters ($893 average; adjusted average of $1,059 from 54 theaters*), according to Bollywood Hungama. Even with a modest theater count, one would expect better from a remake of an American film with a big star opening on Columbus Day weekend.
The weekend’s other new release — Tu Hai Mera Sunday — tanked, predictably. The movie had a mostly unrecognizable cast, and there was no advanced publicity for its international release. It was no surprise, then, that Tu Hai Mera Sunday made just $4,253 from 20 theaters ($213 average) over the weekend, according to Sumit Chadha.
The recent lousy debuts of movies like Tu Hai Mera Sunday and Haseena Parkar have me scratching my head as to why many low-budget Hindi movies still opt for theatrical releases in the United States and Canada, especially with so much competition among streaming services for new Bollywood content. To date, 48 Hindi movies — including multilingual movies like Baahubali 2 and The Ghazi Attack and special engagement releases like the movies of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh — have opened in North American theaters this year. If the eight Hindi movies that I suspect will open here before the end of the year actually do so, that would make 56 Bollywood movies released in North America in 2017 — four more titles than the previous record release year of 2014. What can be gained when a movie earns less than $10,000 in its opening weekend here, as is the case for six titles already this year? Eleven films haven’t even made $50,000 over the courses of their theatrical runs. It’s perplexing.
Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:
- Bareilly Ki Barfi: Week 8; $3,980 from three theaters; $1,327 average; $569,635 total
- Shubh Mangal Saavdhan: Week 6; $2,418 from two theaters; $1,209 average; $629,427 total
- Simran: Week 4; $1,350 from three theaters; $450 average; $404,301 total
- Bhoomi: Week 3; $258 from three theaters; $86 average; $71,803 total
- Toilet — Ek Prem Katha: Week 9; $120 from one theater; $1,872,211 total
*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.
Judwaa 2 led among the Hindi films showing in North America during the weekend of September 29-October 1, 2017. According to Rentrak figures supplied to Bollywood Hungama, Judwaa 2 opened in 213 theaters, earning $630,015 ($2,958 average). Box Office Mojo reports the movie as opening 192 theaters, improving Judwaa 2‘s per-theater average to $3,281.
Though Judwaa 2 posted the ninth best opening weekend gross of 2017, it opened in the sixth highest number of theaters and only had the thirteenth best opening weekend average for the year. Judwaa 2 also earned $200,000 less than star Varun Dhawan’s Badrinath Ki Dulhania did earlier this year, despite the fact that BKD opened in 20% fewer theaters (156, according to Box Office Mojo).
Another interesting aspect of Judwaa 2‘s performance over the weekend is its disproportionate popularity in Canada versus the United States. A full 20% of the film’s gross earnings ($127,042) came from Canada, which accounted for just 11% of the total number of theaters. But this isn’t the only recent release faring much better north of the border than south. Bhoomi earned a total of $5,597 from 14 theaters ($400 average) in its second weekend of release — $4,776 from Canada’s seven theaters and $821 from the US’s seven theaters. The total contributions from each country to date are roughly equal — $36,463 from the US and $33,906 from Canada — despite the fact that the movie opened in nearly three times as many theaters in the US (32) than Canada (11).
Like Bhoomi, all of the other Hindi titles still showing in North America posted weekend earnings of less than $10,000. Here’s how they fared:
- Simran: Week 3; $7,431 from ten theaters; $743 average; $401,626 total
- Bareilly Ki Barfi: Week 7; $5,279 from four theaters; $1,320 average; $564,291 total
- Shubh Mangal Saavdhan: Week 5; $4,610 from six theaters; $768 average; $629,427 total
- Lipstick Under My Burkha: Week 4; $1,526 from one theater; $46,948 total
- Haseena Parkar: Week 2; $254 from three theaters; $85 average; $2,305 total
- Toilet — Ek Prem Katha: Week 8; $220 from two theaters; $110 average; $1,907,300 total
- Lucknow Central: Week 3; $148 from two theaters; $74 average; $144,874 total
One new Hindi film releases in the Chicago area on September 29, 2017. Judwaa 2 — starring Varun Dhawan, Taapsee Pannu, and Jacqueline Fernandez — is a reboot of director David Dhawan’s 1997 flick Judwaa.
Judwaa 2 opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Dine-In Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.
Bhoomi gets a second weekend at MovieMax and South Barrington 24. Simran carries over at the South Barrington 24 and Cantera 17.
Bollywood fans may want to check out Ali Fazal opposite Judy Dench in the British historical drama Victoria & Abdul, opening Friday at the River East 21, Century Centre Cinema in Chicago, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, and Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 15 in Lincolnshire. Victoria & Abdul expands into more local theaters next weekend.
The annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival gets started tonight and runs through the weekend. Actor Rajkummar Rao will be in attendance for showings of his films Trapped and Newton (India’s official submission to the 2018 Oscars). Check out the fest’s ticket page for info on passes and other celebrity Q&A’s.
Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:
- Spyder (Tamil w/English subtitles & Telugu w/English subtitles) at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Marcus Addison, Marcus Gurnee Mills Cinema in Gurnee, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, Century 12 Evanston (Telugu only), and New Vision Cinema 8 Lansing in Lansing (Telugu only)
- Mahanubhavudu (Telugu w/English subtitles) at MovieMax, Stratford Square, and Seven Bridges
- Jai Lava Kusa (Telugu) at MovieMax, Rosemont 18, Stratford Square, and Seven Bridges
- Punjab Nahin Jaoungi (Urdu w/English subtitles) at the South Barrington 24
- Karuppan (Tamil), Hara Hara Mahadevaki (Tamil), Velipadinte Pusthakam (Malayalam), Magalir Mattum (Tamil), and Operation Alamelamma (Kannada) at MovieMax
Neither of the new Hindi films to open in North America made a mark at the box office during the weekend of September 22-24, 2017. The Sanjay Dutt-Aditi Rao Hydari thriller Bhoomi fared the better of the two, earning $48,122 from 43 theaters ($1,119 average) — a low-key performance typical of a movie released in so few theaters.
The weekend’s other new release — Haseena Parkar — is an absolute mystery to me. Why in the world would you open a Hindi film with a recognizable star like Shraddha Kapoor in just five North American theaters? It’s like someone wanted the film to flop, and flop it did. It earned $587 from two theaters in the United States and $714 from three Canadian theaters. That’s a grand total of $1,301 and an average of $260 per theater. Regardless of the actual quality of the movie, it’s going to be remembered as a disaster, ranking at the bottom of the year-end box office list below even MSG Lion Heart 2.
What sucks is that Haseena Parkar is Shraddha Kapoor’s first solo star vehicle, and its failure here will affect how her future projects are perceived by potential producers and investors. They can point to Haseena Parkar as evidence that she’s not bankable internationally, lowering her market value. I’m not even a huge Shraddha Kapoor fan, but actresses in India get so few chances to shine outside of the reflected glow of male stars, and this totally predictable tank job will only further limit her opportunities (and reinforce the stereotype that actresses aren’t moneymakers, thus potentially hurting the prospects of her female peers).
In other news, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan continues to perform well, from what I can tell. Distributor Eros stopped reporting numbers to Box Office Mojo, and Bollywood Hungama’s Rentrak data is still missing information from Canada. Bollywood Hungama reports earnings of $21,229 from 20 US theaters ($1,061 average). I’m not sure what the movie’s real total is, but at a minimum Shubh Mangal Saavdhan has earned around $650,656 ($21,229 plus last weekend‘s total of $629,427).
Fun fact: Poster Boys has earned more in Canada ($50,469) than the US ($44,232), despite having opened three weeks ago in 18 theaters in Canada versus 32 theater in the US. Over the weekend, it added another $245 from two theaters ($123 average), bringing its combined total to $94,701.
Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:
- Simran: Week 2; $72,249 from 74 theaters; $976 average; $372,328 total
- Lucknow Central: Week 2; $19,503 from 28 theaters; $697 average; $141,604 total
- Bareilly Ki Barfi: Week 6; $7,607 from five theaters; $1,521 average; $556,982 total
- Lipstick Under My Burkha: Week 3; $3,130 from four theaters; $783 average; $44,431 total
- Toilet — Ek Prem Katha: Week 7; $1,027 from two theaters; $514 average; $1,869,724 total
- Daddy: Week 3; $84 from one theater; $31,784 total
Simran bested Lucknow Central in the battle for North America box office supremacy for the weekend of September 15-17, 2017, earning $226,853 from 98 theaters ($2,315 average). Lucknow Central brought in a more modest $92,392 from 61 theaters ($1,515 average).
Last weekend‘s new releases failed to sustain much interest, getting beaten by a number of older films. Here’s how the other seven Hindi movies still showing in North America stacked up:
- Shubh Mangal Saavdhan: Week 3; $75,080 from 80 theaters; $939 average; $629,427 total
- Baadshaho: Week 3; $17,158 from 39 theaters; $440 average; $493,572 total
- Bareilly Ki Barfi: Week 5; $16,586 from nine theaters; $1,843 average; $544,703 total
- Poster Boys: Week 2; $15,175 from 67 theaters; $226 average; $87,265 total
- Toilet — Ek Prem Katha: Week 6; $6,792 from 11 theaters; $617 average; $1,866,731 total
- Lipstick Under My Burkha: Week 2; $4,578 from five theaters; $916 average; $39,855 total
- Daddy: Week 2; $1,664 from eight theaters; $208 average; $31,045 total
Simran is unfairly stacked against its main character, putting her in a no-win situation while expecting her to sustain the film’s humorous tone.
Kangana Ranaut plays Praful Patel, a housekeeper at an Atlanta hotel. She lives with shop-owner parents, and she’s been saving money for seven years in order to buy her own condominium. Few Bollywood films feature working-class Indian-Americans, so it’s gratifying to see such characters onscreen for a change.
On a bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas with her cousin Amber (Aneesha Joshi), Praful gets lucky playing Baccarat, winning enough to indulge in some high-end shopping and dining. Her second round doesn’t go as well, forcing Praful to keep gambling in order to try to win her money back. She mistakes a cash infusion from loan shark Mr. Bugs (Jason Louder) for a gift, endangering not just her future plans but her very life.
The tone of Simran is generally comical, especially as Praful explores Vegas before and after her big win. As in Queen, Ranaut is delightful to watch as a fish-out-of-water, goofy and awestruck. The difference between her character in Queen and Praful is that Praful has greater self-confidence (though it’s not always warranted). When it comes to romance, she says: “Having boyfriends isn’t a character flaw. Having boyfriends is a talent.”
In the grand tradition of Bollywood movie parents, Praful’s folks’ only desire is for her to get married — again. Her first marriage didn’t work out, and she’s now happily independent. While her parents’ latest target — MBA student Sameer (Talvar‘s Sohum Shah) — is a nice guy, Praful isn’t keen to settle down.
The rift between Praful and her parents goes beyond her unwillingness to wed. It’s so deep that it undermines the whole tone of the film. There isn’t a single moment of affection between Praful and her domineering father. He says that he wishes he never brought her to America from Gujarat, castigating Praful for being worthless in the same breath that he asks her for money to pay the electric bill. Praful’s mother is of no help.
When Praful’s efforts to pay off Mr. Bugs get her into further trouble, there’s no one she can turn to. Her parents don’t like her. Sameer doesn’t believe her. Praful’s housekeeping co-workers help in what limited ways they can, but they’re just as broke as she is. Cousin Amber is rich, but for some reason she disappears in the second half of the film. Praful is utterly alone.
From a narrative standpoint, it’s unfair to ask Praful — the film’s only multi-dimensional character — to supply all the laughs when the audience can see how hopeless her situation is. Ranaut’s compelling performance fosters so much empathy for Praful that it becomes impossible to laugh at her plight. As Simran progresses, it becomes depressing and surprisingly violent. It’s as though director Hansal Mehta failed to consider how the audience would feel while watching the movie. I’m not sure if Simran is the story he thought he was telling.
Two more Hindi films join the already crowded Chicago theatrical market on September 15, 2017. Kangana Ranaut’s Simran — which was filmed in Atlanta — gets the wider release.
Simran opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 6 min.
Also new this weekend is the prison break thriller Lucknow Central, starring Farhan Akhtar.
Lucknow Central opens Friday at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 13 min.
Baadshaho gets a third weekend at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera 17. Poster Boys gets a second week at the South Barrington 24 and MovieMax, which also holds over Daddy. Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Bareilly Ki Barfi carry over at the Cantera 17 and South Barrington 24, which also holds over Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.
Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:
- Kathalo Rajakumari (Telugu) and Thupparivaalan (Tamil) at MovieMax and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge
- Yuddham Sharanam (Telugu) and Arjun Reddy (Telugu) at Seven Bridges and Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale
- Punjab Nahin Jaoungi (Urdu w/English subtitles) at the South Barrington 24, Stratford Square, and Cantera 17
- Mugulu Nage (Kannada), Magalir Mattum (Tamil), SriValli (Telugu), Ungarala Rambabu (Telugu), and Adam Joan (Malayalam) at MovieMax
- Tickets are already on sale for Jai Lava Kusa (Telugu), opening Wednesday, September 20 at MovieMax, Stratford Square, Seven Bridges, and the AMC Dine-In Rosemont 18 in Rosemont