Tag Archives: Singham Returns

The Crisis of Faith in A Flying Jatt

There are a lot of interesting moral lessons under the glossy, colorful surface of A Flying Jatt. One aspect that has stuck with me since watching the fun superhero movie is how the film portrays the main character’s struggle with his religious faith.

The religiosity of characters is underplayed in Hollywood films in general, but it’s especially absent from the backstories of Hollywood superheroes. Their powers come from science (Spider-man) or space (Superman) or magic (Doctor Strange). Rarely are their powers divine in origin, with perhaps the exception of Thor.

In contrast, all of India’s celluloid superheroes — few as they are — have ties to the divine (I confess, I don’t remember Drona‘s origin story). Krrish‘s powers came from an alien, but the hero’s name is a derivation of Krishna. The villain in Ra.One is a creation of science (as is the hero, G.One), but his name is a play on the demon Ravana. Their stories are explicitly related to Hinduism.

A Flying Jatt is even more overtly religious than the Krrish films or Ra.One in that the hero’s powers are divine in origin. When threatened by an evil industrialist (played by Kay Kay Menon, also the villain in Drona) who wants to tear down a tree that bears a Sikh Khanda symbol, Aman (Tiger Shroff) prays to the tree for help. In a subsequent fight with the industrialist’s goon (played by Nathan Jones), Aman is slammed against the tree. A light shines, and the Khanda symbol is branded onto Aman’s flesh. Then lightning strikes, imbuing Aman with superpowers and launching his foe far enough away to give Aman time to master his new abilities before a climactic showdown.

What’s significant about Aman’s story arc is that, before the miracle at the tree, Aman doesn’t identify as religious (to the chagrin of his pious mother). He keeps his hair short and his face shaved, and he refuses to wear a turban. He eschews all the outward signs of his family’s Sikh faith.

When the industrialist first comes calling, the families who live in Aman’s neighborhood head to the tree to pray. Fearful Aman would rather sell the land — tree and all — to avoid a fight. He only prays at the tree as a last resort, when he’s out of ideas as to how to protect himself and his mother.

Even when Aman finally understands what has happened to him, he still hesitates to embrace his faith. His mother begs him to wear the turban that belonged to his father, himself a brave, pious man. Aman refuses, saying that he will only wear it when he feels that he can do so whole-heartedly. His skills and resolve are tested along with his faith, and only before the final battle does he choose to wear his father’s turban and the beginnings of a beard.

Aman’s doubt is important because rarely do we see any Hindi film characters at all questioning their belief in the divine. Religion is a part of virtually every Hindi film, especially since the lines separating culture and religion in India are blurry to non-existent. A character’s faith gives him context, defining his relationships to other characters and his place in the community. Thus, it’s a foregone conclusion that most characters in Hindi films are religious.

In a terrific article about Indian superheroes, Sankhayan Ghosh paraphrases mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik, who believes that “there is no place for angst” in the Indian idea of heroism. To have a Bollywood character with superpowers doubt not only himself but his belief in God is a big deal.

The thing about faith in the divine is that it requires belief in the absence of physical proof (unless you are Paresh Rawal’s character in OMG: Oh My God, who meets God in person). But even with the physical proof of a Khanda branded on his back and an array of superpowers at his disposal, Aman still hesitates. Like everyone else, his belief has to generate from within.

It’s a thoughtful message, and it relates to another theme in A Flying Jatt. Aman’s brother (played by Gaurav Pandey) tells Aman that the real heroes are those who fight injustice without the aid of superpowers. Aman’s crisis of faith extends that idea further, letting the audience know that it’s okay for normal people to have their doubts about God. If a guy who has been literally touched by the divine can be unsure, how much harder must it be for those with no concrete proof?

Too often, Bollywood heroes are shown as being infallible and above moral judgment. Ajay Devgn’s Bajirao Singham is allowed to break the rules of a democracy because he’s supposedly an instrument of divine justice — a mortal man who can fix all of society’s problems in whatever way he sees fit, no matter the collateral damage (this was especially a problem in Singham Returns). A Flying Jatt‘s Aman isn’t like that. He’s a protector, not an executioner. It’s refreshing to see a relatable Bollywood hero who appeals to the better angels of our nature rather than our base thirst for vengeance.

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Bollywood Box Office: September 12-14

Director Homi Adajania’s English-language comedy Finding Fanny performed very well in its opening weekend in the United States and Canada. From September 12-14, Finding Fanny earned $515,393 from 121 theaters for an average of $4,259 per screen. Every Bollywood film that has earned more than $500,000 in its opening weekend in North America this year has gone on to earn at least $850,000, so total earnings in excess of $1 million are not out of the question for Finding Fanny.

Indian films with predominantly English dialogue are rare, but they tend to do well at the North American box office. The 2011 comedy Delhi Belly earned $581,943 in its opening weekend, going on to post total earnings of $1,532,594. In 2006, Adajania’s first English film — Being Cyrus — opened in just two theaters in North America but earned $40,744. That’s an astounding per-screen average of $20,372!

In its second weekend in theaters, Mary Kom added another $119,460 to its tally, bringing its North American total to $590,165.

Other Hindi movies showing in U.S. and Canadian theaters over the weekend:

  • Mardaani: Week 4; $6,560 from 12 theaters; $547 average; $391,931 total
  • The Lunchbox: Week 29; $3,302 from three theaters; $$1,101 average; $4,043,411 total
  • Singham Returns: Week 5; $1,612 from six theaters; $269 average; $1,231,550 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening September 12: Finding Fanny

While it appears that Creature 3D isn’t releasing in the U.S. (boo!), Chicago area Bollywood fans will get to see one of the most intriguing movies of the year on September 12, 2014: Finding Fanny.

Finding Fanny opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. While MovieMax specifies that it’s carrying the Hindi version of the film, the rest of the theaters are presumably carrying the version with English dialogue. Finding Fanny has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 42 min.

After a respectable opening weekend in North American theaters, Mary Kom carries over at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Singham Returns holds on for a fifth weekend at MovieMax, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. MovieMax and South Barrington are both carrying Mardaani for a fourth weekend as well.

Other Indian movies showing at MovieMax this weekend include Sigaram Thodu (Tamil), Bhaiyya Bhaiyya (Malayalam), and the Telugu movies Power, Anukshanam, Boochamma Boochodu, and Rabhasa.

Bollywood Box Office: September 5-7

Mary Kom turned in a solid opening weekend at the North American box office from September 5-7, 2014. It earned $370,277 from 139 theaters, for a per-screen average of $2,664.

While this opening weekend gross ranks tenth among Bollywood films in North America so far this year, distributors were surely hoping for more. It opened on the sixth highest number of screens, yet — of the eleven films to open in 100 or more theaters — Mary Kom‘s per-screen average was only higher than that of the disastrous Humshakals.

Mary Kom‘s performance is also underwhelming relative to another sports biopic of note: last summer’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The Farhan Akhtar racing flick opened in 140 theaters in the United States and Canada, earning $647,112 ($4,622 average) in its first weekend. Given that Priyanka Chopra has a higher international profile than Akhtar and considering Mary Kom’s more current relevance — she competed in the Olympics just two years ago, whereas Milkha Singh last competed in the 1960s — one would’ve hoped for a more comparable performance from Mary Kom.

Mardaani held up well through its third weekend in theaters. It earned $28,232 from 26 theaters ($1,086 average), bringing its North American total to $377,327.

Raja Natwarlal‘s business fell nearly 90% in its second week. From 30 theaters, it earned just $10,846 ($362 average). Its total stands at $131,105.

Singham Returns closed its fourth weekend with $9,677, bringing its total to $1,226,581. (The theater count of 127 supplied to Box Office Mojo seems incredibly high. Bollywood Hungama reports the movie as showing in 17 theaters, which is more realistic.)

In its 28th week in theaters, The Lunchbox added another $1,319 to its total earnings of $4,039,660.

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening September 5: Mary Kom

The Bollywood sports biopic Mary Kom releases in Chicago area theaters on September 5, 2014. Priyanka Chopra plays the Indian boxing champ and bronze medalist at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Mary Kom opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 4 min.

Raja Natwarlal and Singham Returns carry over at the Cantera 17, MovieMax, and South Barrington 30. Both MovieMax and South Barrington 30 are also holding over Mardaani.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include Rabhasa (Telugu) at the Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont and MovieMax, which also carries Powar (Kannada), Boochamma Boochodu (Telugu), Kiraak (Telugu), Peruchazhi (Malayalam), and Run Raja Run (Telugu).

Bollywood Box Office: August 29-31

The heist film Raja Natwarlal didn’t set the North American box office on fire during its opening weekend, but its performance was typical for an Emraan Hashmi film in the United States and Canada. From August 29-31, 2014, Raja Natwarlal earned $83,669 from 73 theaters, an average of $1,146 per screen. Including its earnings from Monday’s Labor Day holiday in the U.S., Raja Natwarlal‘s total North American earnings stand at $102,314.

That total is decent for a Hashmi film. However, the per screen average is low thanks to it comparatively wide release. Take a look at the opening weekend earnings and screen counts for some recent Hashmi releases, along with the films’ total North American earnings:

  • Ghanchakkar: $143,616 from 89 screens ($1,614 avg); $203,044 total
  • Ek Thi Dayaan: $65,857 from 48 screens ($1,372 avg); $112,135 total
  • Raaz 3: $95,301 from 28 screens ($3,404 avg); $150,716 total
  • Shanghai: $107,565 from 37 screens ($2,907 avg); $183,748 total
  • Jannat 2: $45,000 from 19 screens ($2,368 avg); $54,148 total
  • The Dirty Picture: $267,722 from 52 screens ($5,149 avg); $462,000 total

Given that Hashmi’s films typically gross less than $200,000 in North America, I’m not sure there’s much need to open them in more than 50 theaters. Even his highest profile film — The Dirty Picture — opened in just 52 theaters here. Expanding the screen count for his films seems to dilute their per-theater returns without significantly increasing overall gross.

Mardaani held up well in its second weekend, earning $77,252 from 48 theaters ($1,609 average). The total gross for the Rani Mukerji thriller stands at $308,601.

Singham Returns likewise continued its strong run, adding $51,485 over the course of its third weekend. Its total earnings through Labor Day are $1,209,663.

Other Hindi movies still in theaters:

  • The Lunchbox: Week 27; $1,302 from two theaters ($651 average); $4,037,755 total
  • Kick: Week 6; $14 from one theater; $2,403,553 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening August 29: Raja Natwarlal

The Emraan Hashmi heist flick Raja Natwarlal opens in Chicago area theaters on August 29, 2014. The title roughly translates to “King Con,” so why on earth did they not use that title instead? It’s short, alliterative, and plays on the title King Kong. Movie studios: hire me.

Raja Natwarlal opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

Rani Mukerji’s thriller Mardaani gets a second week at MovieMax, South Barrington 30, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. Singham Returns also carries over at MovieMax, South Barrington, and Cantera.

Other Indian movies playing at MovieMax this weekend include Rabhasa (Telugu), Peruchazhi (Malayalam), Irumbu Kuthirai (Tamil), Salim (Tamil), Anjaan (Tamil), and Run Raja Run (Telugu).

Bollywood Box Office: August 22-24

For a second weekend, Singham Returns held on to the top spot among Bollywood movies showing in North America. From August 22-24, 2014, the Ajay Devgn action sequel earned $218,164 from 127 theaters ($1,718 average), bringing its total earnings to $1,085,328. That total ranks sixth among Hindi films in North America in 2014, about $170,000 shy of Jai Ho.

The strong performance by Singham Returns forced new release Mardaani into second place for the weekend. (To be fair, Mardaani played on a third fewer screens than Singham Returns.) According to Bollywood Hungama, Mardaani earned $168,997 from 86 theaters, an average of $1,965.

I’m optimistic about Mardaani‘s second weekend for a few reasons. The movie has a high user rating of 8.1 stars at IMDb. Monday is a national holiday in the United States (Labor Day). And this Friday’s new release, Raja Natwarlal, will likely open on fewer than a hundred screens. All those factors could help Mardaani retain a good chunk of its first weekend earnings.

Complete North American box office figures for Akshay Kumar’s Entertainment remain impossible to come by. Based on the $143,699 the movie has earned in Canada so far, Entertainment‘s three-week North American total is likely around $500,000.

Other Hindi movies showing in North America include:

  • Siddharth: Week 6; $2,491 from one theater; $59,808 total
  • Kick: Week 5; $2,041 from four theaters ($510 average); $2,402,677 total
  • The Lunchbox: Week 26; $725 from two theaters ($363 average) ;$4,035,675 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening August 22: Mardaani

The Rani Mukerji crime thriller Mardaani (“Masculine“) hits Chicago area theaters on August 22, 2014.

Mardaani opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 54 min.

After a super opening weekend, Singham Returns carries over at all four of the above theaters plus the AMC Showplace Niles 16 in Niles, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.

Entertainment and Kick also carry over at MovieMax and South Barrington.

Other Indian movies showing at MovieMax this weekend include Kabadam (Tamil), Anjaan (Tamil), Sikander (Telugu), Lovers (Telugu), Run Raja Run (Telugu), and Jigarthanda (Tamil).

Bollywood Box Office: August 15-17

Singham Returns got off to a terrific start, turning in the fourth best opening weekend for a Hindi film in North America in 2014. Over the weekend of August 15-17, Singham Returns earned $654,054 from 127 theaters in the United States and Canada ($5,150 average), according to Box Office Mojo.

Singham Return‘s performance is significantly better than that of its predecessor, 2011’s Singham. In its opening weekend in North America, Singham earned $161,063 from 50 theaters ($3,221 average). During nine weeks of release, Singham earned a total of $350,864: a figure that Singham Returns nearly doubled in its first three days in theaters.

For a second week, the distributors of Entertainment failed to disclose their U.S. box office returns. We do know from Bollywood Hungama that the comedy earned $27,281 from 17 Canadian theaters, bringing its total in that country to $123,195.

Given that Akshay Kumar’s earlier 2014 release, Holiday, earned about 26% of its total North American gross from Canada, let’s assume that the $123,195 Entertainment earned in Canada represents 26% of its total haul as well. That would put Entertainment‘s total North American earnings at approximately $473,827. Fingers crossed that we’ll get the official figure someday.

Two other Hindi movies ran in the U.S. and Canada over the weekend:

  • Kick: Week 4; $19,102 from 14 theaters ($1,364 average); $2,398,097 total
  • The Lunchbox: Week 25; $1,652 from four theaters ($413 average); $4,033,909 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama