Tag Archives: The Zoya Factor

Streaming Video News: December 1, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the addition of seven Punjabi films — including the 2019 releases Guddiyan Patole and High End Yaariyaan — and the romantic comedy The Zoya Factor. The Sonam Kapoor Ahuja-Dulquer Salmaan-starrer didn’t make a splash at the box office, but I thought it was really fun.

Even more intriguing than what was added is what’s on its way to Netflix. The Hindi version of Saaho arrives on December 8, followed by The Sky Is Pink on December 11. It also turns out that Netflix is the new home for the Excel Entertainment back catalog, which left Amazon Prime last week. (More recent releases like Gully Boy will stay on Prime for the foreseeable future.) Netflix was Excel’s original streaming partner about 4 or 5 years ago. We’ve got new web addresses and a confirmed debut date of December 15 for all of the Excel films that haven’t been on Netflix before, including Bangistan, Dil Dhadakne Do, Game, and Karthik Calling Karthik.

While I can’t confirm that the rest of the catalog will definitely return on December 15, here are the addresses for all of the Excel films that were previously on Netflix so that you can add them to your List, just in case:

I also updated list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with about a dozen Indian films added in the last few days, including the 2019 releases The Gambler (Malayalam), Malli Malli Chusa (Telugu), and Ottam (Malayalam).

Disclaimer: my Amazon links include an affiliate tag that may earn me a commission on purchases made via the links.

Movie Review: The Zoya Factor (2019)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Rent or buy the movie at iTunes
Buy the soundtrack at iTunes
Buy the book at Amazon

A young woman’s good fortune causes headaches for both her and the captain of India’s cricket team as they try to win the World Cup in The Zoya Factor, based on Anuja Chauhan’s 2008 novel of the same name.

The novel and movie are both set in a timeline based on the 2011 Cricket World Cup tournament played in India, but the members of the Indian cricket team are all fictional.

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja plays Zoya, a copywriter struggling to fit in at her snooty advertising firm who’s rejected by potential romantic suitors because of her middle-class background. At least her dad Vijayendra (Sanjay Kapoor, Kapoor Ahuja’s real-life uncle) and older brother Zoravar (Sikander Kher) love her. They believe she brings them luck in their local cricket pickup games because she was born the day India won its last World Cup in 1983.

Zoya is sent on a make-or-break work assignment to photograph members of the Indian Cricket Team. She gets off to a mixed start with the team’s handsome captain, Nikhil (Dulquer Salmaan), who is charmed by her exuberance and frustrated by her determination. But when he sees Zoya’s co-workers ignore her at breakfast the next morning, he invites her to eat with the team, where she tells them that she’s her family’s lucky charm on the cricket pitch. The team wins their match that afternoon, and Zoya becomes their lucky charm, too.

Screenwriters Pradhuman Singh and Neha Rakesh Sharma skillfully adapt Chauhan’s novel, so that all of drama in the film arises from the characters’ conflicting motivations. Zoya is of course delighted when handsome, rich Nikhil takes a romantic interest in her, but she’s just as thrilled to finally fit in with a group. The team’s most superstitious players — Shivy (Abhilash Chaudhary) and Harry (Gandharv Dewan) — value Zoya for her good luck, but they also genuinely like her because she takes an interest in them. She approaches them differently than Nikhil, who believes that hard work is the only factor in team’s success. When he insists that Zoya stay away from the team, lest they put too much faith in her, he doesn’t realize that her presence has a reassuring affect on jittery players like Shivy and Harry, making them more relaxed on the pitch and helping them perform better.

Even the story’s villain, Robin (Angad Bedi), has understandable motives. It would be a lot easier for Robin to reclaim the captaincy he lost to Nikhil if the public and the Indian Cricket Board give Zoya the credit for the team’s victories — especially when Nikhil is trying to keep her away. It just so happens that Robin’s uncle is the head of the Cricket Board, which makes Zoya an offer that forces her to choose what’s really important to her.

Sikander Kher is stealthily terrific in the movie, and his character plays an important part in steering Zoya’s choices. As her big brother, he’s sincerely concerned for her well-being, but he also reinforces all of Zoya’s insecurities by asking her why someone as popular as Nikhil would be with a nobody like her. Adding insult to injury is that she hates his nickname for her, delightfully translated in the English subtitles as “Spongebob.”

The whole cast is likeable, and Salmaan and Kapoor Ahuja are quite cute together. There’s a distracting amount of product placement in The Zoya Factor, but it’s otherwise a sweet, fun romantic comedy.


Bollywood Box Office: September 27-29, 2019

It was another great weekend for Dream Girl and Chhichhore, and a rotten three days for all of the other Hindi films showing in North America from September 27-29, 2019. Dream Girl held the top spot in its third weekend of release, earning $304,764 from 105 theaters ($2,903 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. Its $2,023,249 total ranks in 10th place for the year so far — just $145,000 behind Total Dhamaal and $300,000 behind Super 30.

Chhichhore had a really nice fourth weekend, taking in $136,494 from 78 theaters ($1,750 average), according to Box Office Mojo. Its $1,924,497 total is right behind Dream Girl in 11th place.

On the other hand, all three of last weekend’s new releases continued their losing streaks. The Zoya Factor earned the most of the lot — $16,566 from 100 theaters ($166 average). A 10-day $121,835 total for a Sonam Kapoor Ahuja film is basically unthinkable at this stage in her career. I’m never going to understand it. Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas was next with $6,236 from 14 theaters ($445 average), bringing its total to $51,727. Prassthanam followed with $2,829 from eight theaters ($354 average). A $29,111 total for a Sanjay Dutt movie? Again, unthinkable.

Then again, this weekend is pretty representative of how 2019 has gone for Bollywood movies in North America. It’s been feast or famine, with no in between. Looking at box office data from the last five years, approximately 25% of Hindi movies released here in a given year earn more than $1 million, with about 35% earning between $200,000 and $1 million, and 40% earning less than $200,000. 2019 is right on pace in that last category, with 41% of releases earning less than $200,000. But an astonishing 44% have taken in more than $1 million here this year. That leaves only 15% (six titles out of 41) in that middle category. The days of a modest $600,000 success are on the way out, but the odds of distributors and studios hitting it big have gone way up.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Section 375: Week 3; $2,947 from three theaters; $982 average; $90,547 total
  • Mission Mangal: Week 7; $1,520 from one theater; $3,657,808 total
  • Saaho: Week 5; $101 from one theater; $3,223,175 total

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, and Box Office Mojo

In Theaters: September 27, 2019

With War on the horizon, no new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area on Friday, September 27, 2019. Many local theaters haven’t finalized their Wednesday schedules yet, but it looks like the Hrithik Roshan-Tiger Shroff action extravaganza is getting a huge local release, including in some theaters that don’t normally carry Bollywood movies. I’ll post another theater update early next week, before War‘s official release on October 2.

Despite a disappointing opening weekend, The Zoya Factor gets a second week at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville.

Another dud from last weekend — Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas — holds over at the South Barrington 24, Cantera, and MovieMax, which also hangs onto Prassthanam.

Still going strong, Dream Girl gets a third week at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera. All four theaters also carry over Chhichhore, as does the Naperville 16.

Mission Mangal gets a seventh week at the AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

As a reminder, after its theatrical run, Prassthanam heads to Amazon Prime; Zee5 has the streaming rights to Dream Girl and Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas (probably); and Hotstar gets Mission Mangal, Chhichhore, and The Zoya Factor.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):

Bollywood Box Office: September 20-22, 2019

What an awful weekend for new Bollywood movies at the North American box office. During the weekend of September 20-22, 2019, the three new Hindi films earned a combined total of just $128,557. Yikes.

The biggest disappointment among the newcomers was The Zoya Factor, a romantic comedy featuring the first-time pairing of Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and Dulquer Salmaan. From 100 North American theaters, it earned $78,569 ($786 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. The Zoya Factor joins Romeo Akbar Walter and India’s Most Wanted as the only Hindi films to open in 99 theaters or more that failed to earn at least $400,000 in their opening weekend here this year. The Zoya Factor‘s weekend was the worst of those three, in terms both gross and per-screen average.

This was a surprise to me because bad reviews — The Zoya Factor currently has a 40% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and 4.2 rating at IMDb — from India don’t reach us here in North America until Friday morning, after many people have already purchased tickets for the weekend or made plans to do so. Even with Dream Girl and Chhichhore still going strong (more on them below), either people waited to hear word of mouth before committing to The Zoya Factor or weren’t interested in it in the first place. I’m gonna have to read some post-release analysis, ’cause I’m kind of shocked.

The weekend’s other two new releases struggled as well. Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas — the launch vehicle for Sunny Deol’s son Karan — earned $33,159 from 26 theaters ($1,275 average), a predictably modest debut from an unproven actor.

Sanjay Dutt’s political thriller Prassthanam was the big stinker of the lot, pulling in just $16,829 from 35 theaters ($481 average). That’s the third worst opening weekend per-screen average here this year and the fourth worst opening weekend total. Ack.

Meanwhile, Dream Girl raked in the dough in its second weekend in North American theaters, earning $480,775 from 109 theaters ($4,411 average) — a drop of just 33% from last weekend. Its total stands at $1,525,727 so far. With no new Hindi films releasing this upcoming weekend, Dream Girl looks poised to cross the $2 million mark sooner rather than later.

Chhichhore had a great third weekend, earning $204,391 from 98 theaters ($2,086 average), according to Box Office Mojo. That brings its total to $1,714,083.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Section 375: Week 2; $6,238 from 11 theaters; $567 average; $85,295 total
  • Mission Mangal: Week 6; $3,926 from 13 theaters; $302 average; $3,657,808 total
  • Saaho: Week 4; $622 from four theaters; $156 average; $3,222,967 total

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, Box Office Mojo

Opening September 20: The Zoya Factor, Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, and Prassthanam

It’s a big weekend for Bollywood fans in Chicagoland. In addition to the annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival and four Hindi titles carrying over in theaters, three new Bollywood movies make their local debuts on September 20, 2019. The Sonam Kapoor Ahuja-Dulquer Salmaan romantic comedy The Zoya Factor gets the widest release of the three newcomers.

The Zoya Factor opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera in Warrenville, and AMC Naperville 16 in Naperville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 14 min. The Zoya Factor is headed to Hotstar after its theatrical run, likely in November.

Another new romance opening this weekend is Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, directed by Sunny Deol and starring his son Karan in his big screen debut.

Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas opens Friday at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 34 min. It’s produced and distributed by Zee Studios, so expect it to head to Zee5 for streaming.

The final new release is the political drama Prassthanam, starring Sanjay Dutt and an impressive supporting cast that includes Ali Fazal, Manisha Koirala, Chunky Pandey, and Jackie Shroff.

Prassthanam opens Friday at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

After a great opening weekend, Dream Girl gets a second week at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and Cantera.

Section 375 also holds over for a second week at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Chhichhore is still going strong heading into a third week at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera, and Naperville 16.

Finally, Mission Mangal gets a sixth week at the AMC Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend (all films have English subtitles):