Sushant Singh Rajput’s final movie Dil Bechara just released on Hotstar/Disney+Hotstar across the globe. For the time being, Dil Bechara is streaming for free even if you’re not a Hotstar subscriber. Here’s where to watch it in the United States: https://www.hotstar.com/us/movies/dil-bechara/1260036017
The romance Dil Bechara is a based on John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars, about a pair of young people who’ve endured serious illnesses who undertake a search for a reclusive author. Sanjana Sanghi makes her film debut opposite Sushant, with Saif Ali Khan playing the author.
Pink got off to a terrific start at the North American box office. During the weekend of September 16-18, 2016, it earned $371,043 from 71 theaters ($5,226 average). That’s the seventh best opening weekend average of the year, from a film that ranked 24th out of 37 films in terms of opening weekend theater count.
Pink is star Amitabh Bachchan’s third release of the year, with each film opening in fewer theaters than the one before it. Wazir released into 127 theaters here in January, earning $575,908 in its opening weekend. In June, Te3n earned $250,677 from the 116 theaters it opened in. Releasing Pink in just 71 theaters seems like an overreaction to Te3n‘s slight underperformance. Bachchan is still enough of a draw here that his movies should open in at least 90 theaters.
Baar Baar Dekho held over reasonably well in its second weekend, losing about 77% of its opening weekend business (which isn’t as dramatic as it might seem). The time travel romance earned $141,833 from 123 theaters ($1,153 average), bringing its total earnings to $900,159.
Freaky Ali faced a more precipitous second-weekend drop, with business falling by about 84%. It took in $6,621 from fourteen theaters ($414 average) to bring its total to $64,254. As I noted last week, that’s a very respectable total for a movie that opened in just 42 theaters.
In its sixth weekend, Rustom earned $6,499 from seven theaters ($928 average), bringing its total to $1,909,782.
Naam Hai Akira closed out its third weekend with $2,732 from two theaters ($1,366 average). Its North American total earnings stand at $217,515.
Following a lovely vacation in Florida, I’m back with my weekly box office report. No new Hindi films opened in the United States or Canada on Friday, so let’s see how the films still in theaters held up during the weekend of July 1-3, 2016.
In its third weekend of release, Udta Punjab continued to lead the field. It added another $74,883 from 44 theaters ($1,702 average) to bring its North American total to $1,184,917. I find it interesting that three of the seven Hindi films to earn more than $1 million in the US and Canada this year opened in fewer than 110 theaters: Udta Punjab (107), Airlift (98), and Neerja (88). Both Airlift and Neerja added theaters in their second week of release, but their initial opening was conservative, as was Udta Punjab‘s. After years of increasing theater counts, maybe studios and distributors are realizing they can earn just as much with a smaller footprint.
Raman Raghav 2.0 ended its second weekend with $7,070 from thirteen theaters ($544 average), bringing its total to $75,515. That amount is probably in line with expectations, but I’d hoped for more given how good the movie is.
Housefull 3 earned another $4,816 from six theaters ($803 average) to bring its five-week total to $1,320,871. In its fourth week, Te3n took in $1,040 from four theaters ($260 average), bringing its total to $436,408.
Dhanak closed out its third weekend in just one theater, earning $390 and bringing its total to $12,164. This is another movie that I wish had made a bigger splash. Perhaps with better (or any) marketing campaign that used its English title, Rainbow, it could have. Dhanak is such a sweet, broadly appealing movie that I hope someday finds an audience on Netflix or another streaming service.
Te3n‘s North American debut fell a little short of expectations. During the weekend of June 10-12, 2016, the Amitabh Bachchan thriller earned $250,677 from 116 theaters ($2,161 average). It released into the seventh largest number of theaters for the year, but its opening weekend total was only ninth best, and its opening weekend average just eleventh best. Distributor Reliance Films was probably hoping for numbers closer to what Bachchan earned in January with another thriller, Wazir, which opened with $575,908 from 127 theaters ($4,535 average).
Housefull 3 held over well in its second weekend of release. Its business fell by about two-thirds, which is actually good for this year. A movie only has to retain 20% of its opening weekend business to place in the top half of Bollywood films released in North America in 2016. The comedy added another $224,510 from 112 theaters ($2,005 average) to bring its total to $1,139,998. Thus far, Housefull 3 is performing on par with its predecessors.
I’ve written before about how — though the United States and Canada are considered one North American territory for box office reporting purposes — the countries have different taste in Bollywood films, and this weekend provided the best evidence of that yet. Canadians ignored the new release Te3n and turned out for two-week-old Housefull 3 at a margin of nearly two-to-one. Here’s the subset of Canadian data broken out from the totals above:
Housefull 3: $51,837 from fourteen theaters ($3,703 average)
Te3n: $22,088 from twelve theaters ($1,841 average)
Damn, Canadians love their broad comedies almost as much as they love their action movies! In contrast, Te3n averaged $2,198 per screen in the US, and Housefull 3 averaged $1,762.
Sarbjit played for a fourth weekend in one theater, earning $386 to bring its total to $244,274.
When eight-year-old Angela (Aarnaa Sharma) was kidnapped and killed eight years ago, time stopped for her grandfather, John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan). Not in a literal sense, of course, as evidenced by his increasingly stooped posture and shuffling gait. John’s wife, Nancy (Padmavathi Rao), uses a wheelchair that she didn’t need back when little Angela lived with them.
Figuratively, though, nothing has changed for John. Every day, he stops by the police station to ask if they have new leads in the case. Every day, the new police chief Sarita (Vidya Balan) tells him, “No,” with a mixture of patience and pity.
The kidnapping that turns John’s life into a daily nightmare pushes another life in a totally different direction. Martin (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) was the police officer in charge when Angela’s case went haywire. Unable to cope with his failure, Martin became a priest. But John won’t let Martin run from the past.
By happenstance, John finds a clue about Angela’s kidnapping. Shortly thereafter, a little boy goes missing under the same circumstances as Angela. Against Martin’s will, he’s forced to act as an investigator again — examining both John’s clues from the past and Sarita’s clues from the present — to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.
Te3n is tense and chilling without being gory. The atmosphere is enhanced by a tremendous score by composer Clinton Cerejo. Bachchan himself sings one version of the sad song “Kyun Re,” making his character’s pain feel all the more heartbreaking.
The movie belongs to Bachchan, but his fellow actors are just as strong. Sarita is the story’s straight woman, and Balan plays her matter-of-factly. It’s not a flashy performance, nor should it be.
Same for Siddiqui’s low-key turn as the priest. Martin’s past arrogance led to catastrophic mistakes that he’s obviously learned from. In his new role, he observes more than he speaks. Yet, as Sarita correctly points out, Martin’s plan to leave things “to God” conveniently excuses the former cop’s inaction.
Bachchan’s performance is tragic and moving. Never has the superstar seemed so old, which is crucial, since that’s what Te3n is about even more than the crime — it’s about the horrors that time and age inflict upon us. It’s about getting old.
Remove the dead granddaughter from the equation, and John’s life is a pretty accurate depiction of the lives of many people in their later years. He’s not as nimble of body or mind as he once was. His world has shrunk so much that he fixates. His days are a routine of mundane chores, and he’s starting to forget to do some of them. He’s depressed.
It’s no wonder that no one takes John seriously when he keeps pressing forward with his own investigation. Even Nancy thinks that he’s lost perspective, and his refusal to cope with reality makes him a worse husband.
Director Ribhu Dasgupta uses “Stranger Danger” imagery to emphasize another age-related theme in the film: namely young parents’ concerns about their own parents’ fitness to care for their grandchildren. Both children are abducted by a hooded stranger in a black van while under the care of their grandfathers. Te3n‘s scenario is the extreme version of fears many parents have when, say, Grandpa wants to drive the kids to get ice cream or Grandma insists on babysitting even though she just had back surgery.
Te3n fails to wrap up the central mystery in a believable way, yet the volume of good elements early in the film offset its subpar ending. The movie is at its most thought-provoking when Bachchan is on screen, his posture and mannerisms emphasizing the extent to which his character has been broken by time and sadness. Enjoy Te3n for the thrills, but don’t overlook what the story is really about.
One new Hindi movie hits Chicago area theaters on June 10, 2016 (when am I ever going to get to see Do Lafzon Ki Kahani?!). The intriguing crime thriller Te3n stars Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. This is one of my most anticipated films of the year.