There are three 2019 releases of note likely to make their streaming debuts this week, according to Bollywood Buff. Taapsee Pannu’s thriller Game Over — which released theatrically in the United States in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi — comes to Netflix on August 21, followed by Article 15 on August 24. Student of the Year 2 is slated to join Amazon Prime on August 26 in India, which — because of the time difference — would see it become available in the US on Sunday, August 25 in the afternoon.
The weekend of May 31-June 2, 2019, was predictably slow for Bollywood movies in North America because of the impending release of Salman Khan’s Bharat on June 5, but there’s also a real lack of audience interest in the Hindi films currently on offer. Three-week-old De De Pyaar De led the way with $64,458 from 52 theaters ($1,240), according to Bollywood Hungama. With $992,995 in earnings so far, the comedy is on the verge of becoming the tenth Hindi film to earn $1 million in North America this year.
That’s where the good news ends. Both of the films in their second weekend of release failed to average $1,000 in per-theater earnings. PM Narendra Modi took in $12,110 from 16 theaters ($757 average), bringing its total to $109,885. India’s Most Wanted was absolutely tragic, earning $18,111 from 80 theaters — a per-theater average of just $226, according to Box Office Mojo. Even with its large theatrical footprint (having opened on 110 screens), it’s only managed to earn $168,016 here so far.
Photograph is struggling as well. In its third weekend, it earned $44,234 from 81 theaters ($546 average), bringing its total to $302,463. That’s almost exactly what director Ritesh Batra’s previous film The Lunchbox had earned at the end of its third weekend back in 2014: $306,347. However, The Lunchbox was only showing in 18 theaters at the time and was averaging almost $5,000 per screen. The Lunchbox didn’t hit its peak theater count (165) until Week 9, and its per-theater average didn’t fall below $1,000 until Week 15. The Lunchbox finished its run with $4.2 million in earnings, but it looks like Photograph might top out at about 10% of that.
Student of the Year 2 closed out its fourth weekend with $751 from three theaters, bringing its total to $738,134.
May 24-26, 2019, was a bad weekend for Bollywood films in North America, both in terms of performance and available information. None of the popular resources reported box office data for either De De Pyaar De or Student of the Year 2.
The three Hindi films for which info exists all did poorly. India’s Most Wanted opened in 110 theaters and earned just $98,322 ($894 average), according to Box Office Mojo. The other new release — PM Narendra Modi — earned $52,643 from 49 theaters ($1,074 average), per Bollywood Hungama. And Photograph‘s second-weekend expansion into 123 theaters resulted in $130,750 in earnings ($1,063 average), bringing the drama’s total to $180,560. Definitely a Memorial Day weekend to forget.
With an opening scene that features hundreds of students celebrating the start of an intercollegiate competition by chanting, “Student! Student!”, it’s clear that Student of the Year 2 (“SOTY2” henceforth) is not meant to be intellectually challenging. Nevertheless, the romantic comedy-drama sequel is plenty of fun, with some surprisingly rich character development.
Though not a direct sequel to 2012’s Student of the Year, SOTY2 is made in the same narrative mold as the first: a low-income university student competes against his well-heeled contemporaries for respect and the love of a pretty girl. While the original SOTY launched the careers of three newcomers who would become big stars — Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, and Sidharth Malhotra — SOTY2 is star Tiger Shroff’s sixth leading role.
This time Shroff plays Rohan, a working class student at the underfunded Pishorilal Chamandas College where he excels at the sport kabaddi. His wealthy childhood sweetheart Mridula (Tara Sutaria) attends hoity-toity St. Teresa’s College. Without telling Mridula about his plan, Rohan gets an athletic scholarship and transfers to St. Teresa’s to be closer to her.
Rohan is a fish out of water at his new school, where everyone wears designer clothes and drives sports cars. He’s no longer the best athlete, with that distinction belonging to Manav (Aditya Seal), the reigning intercollegiate Student of the Year titleholder. Rohan makes an enemy of Manav’s snobby, vindictive sister Shreya (Ananya Panday, daughter of actor Chunky Pandey). Even Mridula — who goes by “Mia” on campus — acts less than thrilled to see poor Rohan on her fancy turf.
While Rohan could find a place at St. Teresa’s as one of Manav’s toadies, that won’t impress Mridula. What starts out as a good-natured rivalry between the two campus studs changes when Manav realizes Rohan’s ambitions, and Manav reminds Rohan of the hierarchy in the harshest way possible. But Rohan finds an unexpected ally in Shreya, who’s tired of living in her brother’s shadow. Maybe Rohan’s been trying to impress the wrong woman.
Though Shroff is typically drawn to action movies, he’s more charming in a lighter role like this that requires some self-awareness. Shroff nicely depicts Rohan’s struggle to fit in, as well as his realization that he should’ve been kinder to his peers back when he was Big Man on Campus at his old college.
Shreya’s character development is even more impressive than Rohan’s. She evolves from spoiled and aloof to generous and kind, as Rohan learns more about her troubled home life, while still keeping the core of her character intact. Her instinct to respond to slights with cattiness never changes, but she begins to curb her impulsiveness. One would never guess that this is Panday’s first feature role, she’s that good.
This is also Sutaria’s first feature role, having started her career in television. She doesn’t quite match the charisma of Shroff or Panday, but her character isn’t as deep as either of theirs. Mridula is written as shallow and fickle, which doesn’t leave Sutaria much room to maneuver.
Manav is also one-note — a rich bully from start to finish. Seal has to deliver dopey lines with a straight face, such as the multiple times Manav calls Rohan “loser of the year.” On the positive side, Seal and Sutaria are the best dancers of the lead quartet.
The film’s dance numbers are fun and impressive in scale, although they do have some weird elements. Will Smith strolls across the stage during one song for absolutely no reason. A couple of numbers feature a bunch of white women in cheerleader outfits, which stands out because there aren’t any non-Indian male students at St. Teresa. Also, one of my friends was crushed to discover that “Mumbai Dilli Di Kudiyaan” was just released for promotional purposes and wasn’t actually in the movie.
SOTY2 also has a lot of kabaddi scenes, which are sort of exciting, but I didn’t come out of the film understanding anything more about the rules than I did going in. (Although I was delighted to learn that you’re allowed to kick people in kabaddi.) There are also some unrealistic track and field sequences that have slow-motion shots of Manav turning to stare at Rohan in the middle of a race and looking aghast. As the leadoff runner for Westmont High School’s state-qualifying 800-meter medley relay team in 1994, I can assure you that there isn’t time for such theatrics during a sprint.
Then again, the whole premise of the Student of the Year competition is ridiculous to begin with. It’s only available to male students, there’s no academic component, and it only features two events — one of which is a team sport. Points are accrued by school, not by individual, yet the final award is given to a single participant. It’s pretty dumb if you think about it, so better to just enjoy Student of the Year 2 for its lavish dance numbers and Ananya Panday’s promising debut.
The romantic comedy De De Pyaar De got off to an okay start in North America. From May 17-19, 2019, it earned $425,934 from 104 theaters ($4,096 average), according to Box Office Mojo.
The weekend also marked the local debut of director Ritesh Batra’s Photograph, which released in India back in March. The drama earned $35,796 from 13 theaters ($2,754 average), though it will likely add theaters and expand to other cities in the coming weeks.
Student of the Year 2 didn’t hold up as well in its second weekend as its predecessor did. Back in 2012, Student of the Year carried over 40% of its opening weekend business into its second weekend, but SOTY2‘s holdover was just 22% — $103,381 from 189 theaters ($547 average). Look for it to lose a lot of theaters going into its third weekend. Its total stands at $724,058.
Other Hindi movies showing in North America:
Kalank: Week 5; $2,536 from six theaters; $423 average; $2,729,336 total
The Tashkent Files: Week 6; $1,411 from three theaters; $470 average; $66,831 total
Two new Hindi films open in the Chicago area on May 17, 2019. The wider release of the two goes to De De Pyaar De, a romantic comedy in which Ajay Devgn leaves Tabu for a woman half his age (Rakul Preet Singh). It’s written by filmmaker Luv Ranjan, who treated the female characters like garbage in his movie Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2. I’m sitting this one out.
Student of the Year 2 had a fine opening weekend in North American theaters. From May 10-12, 2019, the sequel earned $462,108 from 190 theaters ($2,432 average), according to Box Office Mojo. This year’s median opening weekend per-theater average is just over $3,000, and SOTY2‘s is well short of that. A $1 million final total here seems like a stretch.
Yet SOTY2‘s opening weekend is on par with Student of the Year‘s opening weekend back in October, 2012. The original also had an ambitious release strategy, opening in 106 theaters and earning $326,508 that weekend ($3,080 average). It ended its North American run five weeks later with $670,086 total. SOTY‘s second-weekend earnings were 40% of its first-weekend earnings, so let’s see if SOTY2 can match that.
Other Hindi films showing in North American theaters:
Kalank: Week 4; $13,839 from 19 theaters; $728 average; $2,729,336 total
The Tashkent Files: Week 5; $4,577 from two theaters; $2,289 average; $64,450 total