Most Chicago area theaters have rearranged their schedules to accommodate new releases debuting on Wednesday, November 21, to take advantage of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday crowds. That’s bad news for one of last week’s new Hindi releases.
Two of Wednesday’s new releases — though not Hindi movies themselves — feature popular Bollywood actors in prominent roles. Anupam Kher stars in The Silver Linings Playbook, while Life of Pi stars Bollywood veterans like Irrfan Khan, Tabu, and Adil Hussain. Both of these English-language films open on November 21 at all five of the theaters mentioned above, as well as many other theaters in the Chicago area.
Ajay Devgn has something of an uneven record when it comes to the comedic roles he chooses. His deadpan delivery suits films like Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? and Bol Bachchan, while his attempts at goofier roles in movies like All the Best and Rascals fall flat. Devgn hits the right wacky notes in Son of Sardaar, a silly film that has its heart in the right place.
Devgn plays Jassi, a Punjabi living in London who returns to the small town he left as a child, stumbling into a long-simmering family feud. Turns out Jassi’s father and the patriarch of the Sandhu family killed each other in a fight, and Sandhu’s heirs have vowed to avenge his death.
The new head of the Sandhu family, Billoo (Sanjay Dutt), swore an oath on the night of his uncle’s murder — Billoo’s own wedding night — not to marry until he murders Jassi. Consequently, Billoo’s bride-to-be, Pammi (Juhi Chawla), has grown impatient after waiting twenty-five years and is eager to marry.
Unfortunately for desperate Pammi, Billoo is a man of strong traditional values and won’t even look at her, let alone kiss her, before they are married. These values also put Jassi’s death sentence on hold after he is unwittingly invited into Billoo’s house. Since guests customarily get special treatment, Jassi is safe as long as he remains in Billoo’s home. It also gives Jassi time to fall for Billoo’s beautiful cousin, Sukh (Sonakshi Sinha), who gets a couple of montages accompanied by odd 80’s hair-metal-inspired musical themes.
The film works because Jassi is a sweet, likeable guy who doesn’t want to make trouble. He endears himself to the women of the Sandhu family — who aren’t aware of his part in the feud — and he’s able to keep finding ways to extend his stay.
Devgn plays Jassi with a wide-eyed fascination and enthusiasm that are endearing. My favorite moment in the film is when Devgn appears to be genuinely startled by a pigeon. This performance is a great counter to the put-upon cynicism that Devgn normally does so well. This might be my favorite performance of his career.
Given Jassi’s Sikh warrior heritage, he’s no pushover. His turban doubles as a weapon and winds itself back into place. It’s a silly effect, but Son of Sardaar swears no allegiance to the properties of physics. Most of the fight scenes rely upon slow-motion effects requiring the actors to don harnesses under their clothing. Trimming thirty minutes or so of rehashed fight and chase scenes would’ve done wonders for the film.
Dutt is solid as Jassi’s adversary, while Sinha is likewise good in the same type of role she’s played several times before. Besides Devgn, the other star of the film is Chawla. Pammi’s attempts to seduce Billoo into giving her a chaste kiss on the cheek are funny, and Chawla brings the same kind of earnest sweetness to her role as Devgn does to his.
Son of Sardaar might not be particularly fresh, but Devgn shows how to properly play the loveable goofball role. A character isn’t loveable just because other characters describe him that way; he has to act loveable. Devgn does just that, making Son of Sardaar an enjoyable film to watch.
Hoping to take advantage of Diwali holiday crowds, two of the biggest films of 2012 open in Chicago area theaters on Tuesday, November 13. Due to the recent death of director Yash Chopra, his final film — Jab Tak Hai Jaan — is obviously generating the most buzz. The romantic drama stars Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, and Anushka Sharma.
Also debuting on Tuesday is the action comedy Son of Sardaar, which stars Ajay Devgn, Sonakshi Sinha, and Sanjay Dutt.
With Bollywood heavyweights Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Son of Sardaar dropping into theaters early next week, there are no new Hindi films opening in the Chicago area on Friday, November 9. This is likely your last chance to catch up on older releases before the two big boys wipe out all competitors.
English Vinglish and Student of the Year each earned upwards of $300,000 in their opening weekends and have continued to hold audiences. Chakravyuh opened with approximately the same tally as LSTCK the previous weekend (not including the approximately $15,000 it earned in the first two days of its mid-week opening), so LSTCK should perform similarly this weekend.
Last weekend’s other new release, Ata Pata Laapata, didn’t report its returns, which were surely worse than LSTCK‘s low figures. The fact that it departs theaters after one week seems to confirm that.
Hindi movies to catch while you can include Student of the Year at both the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30, and English Vinglish and OMG Oh My God at the South Barrington 30.
Thanks to impressive earnings of $1,027,121 from its first two weeks in the U.S., Cocktail gets a third week at both of the above theaters. Bol Bachchan — also performing well in the States, with earnings of $1,155,696 so far — gets a fourth week at the South Barrington 30.