I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because a ton of great Hindi films are set to expire from the service on August 1, as a result of the end of two-year contract with UTV Motion Pictures. Netflix could renew the contract in the near future, or the package of films could migrate to another streaming service. UTV is owned at least in part by Disney, so Hotstar is a likely destination. We’ll have to wait and see where they end up. Until then, here are the titles to catch on Netflix while you can:
I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with twenty-two new additions to the catalog! About half of these titles were on Netflix years ago, but the rest — films like Highway, Mohenjo Daro, and PK — are available on the service for the first time. I’m excited that three more of director Vishal Bhardwaj’s movies have joined the catalog. Here are all the titles added today:
Bajirao Mastani and Dilwale closed out their third weekend in theaters, finalizing the North American box office rankings for Bollywood films released in 2015. From January 1-3, 2016, Bajirao Mastani earned $772,775 from 304 theaters ($2,542 average). During the same period, Dilwale earned $308,149 from 133 theaters ($2,317 average).
The ten highest earning Bollywood films of 2015 in North America were:
Bajrangi Bhaijaan had the best opening weekend in 2015, both in terms of total gross ($2,613,192) and per-screen average ($9,468). Bajirao Mastani has already proven to have the best longevity of any 2015 release, having nearly quadrupled its opening weekend total in just three weeks.
2015 set a new benchmark for blockbuster releases, with both Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo opening in more than 300 theaters in North America (304 and 310, respectively). Though PK (296) and Bang Bang (292) came close in 2014, it’s worth noting how rapid this increase in theater counts has been. The widest release in 2013 was Dhoom 3 on 239 screens, and 2012’s biggest release, Talaash, opened in just 172 theaters. More people than ever before can watch Bollywood films on the big screen in the United States and Canada.
It’s also worth noting that all of the films in the 2015 top ten were released between May and December. Shahrukh Khan’s Fan — scheduled for release on April 15 — should easily make it into the 2016 top ten, but it remains to be seen if any of the other Bollywood flicks opening in the first third of the year will prove to be breakout hits. Do any of the films on this list seem like contenders to you?
Tamasha (“Spectacle“) doesn’t give as much as it asks of its audience in return. Writer-director Imtiaz Ali asks the audience to buy into his characters’ romantic struggles without giving enough reasons why we should care.
The romance is founded on a questionable gimmick: two strangers meet while vacationing in Corsica, and they vow to spend a week together pretending to be people they are not. They take on identities from old films, with the man (Ranbir Kapoor) posing as Don, and the woman (Deepika Padukone) assuming the moniker Mona Darling.
Their courtship hinges on the two of them not knowing a thing about one another, which means that the audience doesn’t know anything about them either. All we know about Don is that he liked stories as a kid and presently — the Corsica sequence is a flashback — performs as a tin man in a stage play. We know nothing about Mona.
The false identity gimmick makes it hard to care about these mysterious characters as they cavort about France. Ali trots out his signature trope — the spontaneous parade — in the song “Matargashti,” an event that is supposed to be charming but comes off as forced and unrealistic.
Several years after their French dalliance, Mona and Don meet again in Delhi, revealing to each other their true names: Tara and Ved. However, Ved is a boring, goateed tech guy — nothing like the ebullient Don. Tara tries a relationship with Ved, but finds that she longs for the side of him that she met in Corsica.
Despite the tagline on the movie poster — “Why always the same story?” — Tamasha is a too familiar tale of a bubbly woman teaching a bland guy how to live. As per the template, Tara has no identity of her own apart from her role in Ved’s personal growth.
Tara also has a buttoned-up corporate job, but how does she feel about it? Why aren’t scenes of her at work shot with the same grey tone that colors scenes of Ved at work, as though he’s walking under a cloud even indoors? What does she want from life, other than to be with Ved? Padukone does her best within her characters’ limitations, as does Kapoor.
As a lead character, Ved is a disappointment. He blames his mundane existence on his father, who pushed him into engineering. When Tara points out that there’s more to Ved than his job, he lashes out at her, as though angered at her nerve for suggesting that he is the source of his own unhappiness.
A lot of people hate their jobs, but it doesn’t make them dull automatons in their off hours. There’s a reason why plenty of authors are former lawyers who wrote their debut novels in spare hours over the weekend. If you have a story to tell, you find a way to tell it. Ved chose to be a dull jerk, and it’s unpleasant to watch him punish Tara for his own choices.
There’s a trivial-sounding question that actually gets at the heart of why Ved fails as a lead character: why is he in Corsica? Are we supposed to believe that an over-scheduled working stiff like Ved planned a solo vacation in an exotic resort spot like an island off the coast of France? Since everything we know about Ved points to the answer “no,” then what is he doing there? I’m curious as to whether Imtiaz Ali knows.
Director Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha gets an early release in the United States to capitalize on Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday. The romance — starring Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor — opens on Wednesday, November 25, 2015, two days before it opens in India.
[Note: According to MovieMax’s schedule, it looks like we’ll be getting Tamasha here in the States on Wednesday, November 25, the day before Thanksgiving. The movie opens in Indian on Friday, November 27.]
Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Thoongaa Vanam (Tamil w/English subtitles) at Seven Bridges and MovieMax, which also carries Cheekati Rajyam (the Telugu version of Thoonga Vanam), Kumari 21F (Telugu), Rani Padmini (Malayalam), and Vedalam (Tamil).