Tag Archives: Tubelight

Split Screen Podcast, Episode 44: The Salman Khan Remake of ‘Little Boy’

Shah Shahid and I are kind of obsessed with Tubelight, the Bollywood remake of Little Boy. It’s probably because writer-director Kabir Khan cast Salman Khan in a role originally played by an 8-year-old. First Shah and I compared the trailers of both movies, and now we review the films themselves in Episode 44 of the Split Screen Podcast. Here’s a teaser: we sorta like Tubelight. Also, I call a child an “asshole” in the episode.

You can subscribe to the Split Screen Podcast at iTunes, or you can listen to Episode 44 in your browser on this page at Audioboom. Find links to other podcast episodes and Shah’s reviews at his website, Blank Page Beatdown. I’m a guest on the following episodes of the Split Screen Podcast:

Streaming Video News: October 2, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Heera with one big new addition to the catalog. Salman Khan’s 2017 release Tubelight is now available for streaming. I enjoyed Tubelight a lot more than I expected to.

I also made two changes to my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix. The Manipuri film Loktak Lairembee is now available for streaming, as is the Gujarati movie Wrong Side Raju. Amazon Prime added the Telugu film The Bells to its streaming catalog. For everything else new to Netflix and Amazon Prime — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

Bollywood Box Office: July 14-16, 2017

Things didn’t go so well for Jagga Jasoos in North America. From July 14-16, 2017, it earned $482,887 from 210 theaters ($2,299 average). That average barely puts it in the top half of Hindi films for the year here, just behind Tubelight, which was also considered a disappointment. Still, Jagga Jasoos‘s total was good enough to rank in 15th place at the overall US box office for the weekend, and its per-theater average was better than the averages of the movies ranked 8th-14th.

There are numerous reasons to explain why Jagga Jasoos wasn’t a blockbuster here, from the movie’s unique concept to it being a family oriented film opening during peak season for big-budget superhero flicks and animated fare. Jagga Jasoos‘s earnings fall within the expected parameters for recent films featuring its two stars. It earned more than Ranbir Kapoor’s Bombay Velvet in its first weekend but less than his Tamasha; it earned more than Katrina Kaif’s Fitoor but less than her Baar Baar Dekho.

Mom held up great in its second weekend in theaters, retaining nearly 40% of its opening weekend audience. It earned $99,535 from 63 theaters ($1,580 average), bringing its total to $493,245 — already nearly double its opening weekend total of $260,433.

Guest Iin London fared much worse, losing 85% of its opening weekend audience and taking in $4,494 from eight theaters ($562 average). Its total stands at $49,161.

Tubelight closed out its fourth weekend in theaters with earnings of just $200 — $138 from one Canadian theater and $62 from one theater in the US. It has total earnings of $1,575,849.

Source: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: July 7-9, 2017

Both of the weekend’s new Hindi releases did well in North America relative to the size of their theatrical footprints. From July 7-9, 2017, Mom earned $260,433 from 94 theaters ($2,771 average; adjusted average of $3,339 from 78 theaters*). For context, that’s the twelfth highest opening weekend theater count for a Bollywood film in North America for the year, but the 9th best average and tenth best opening weekend gross.

During the same period, Guest Iin London earned $29,378 from 30 theaters ($979 average; adjusted average of $1,175 from 25 theaters). That’s the same minuscule theater count as Dobaara: See Your Evil, yet Guest Iin London earned four times as much as the horror movie did in its opening weekend.

Other Indian movies still in North American theaters:

  • Tubelight: Week 3; $15,281 from 27 theaters; $566 average; $1,566,474 total
  • Hindi Medium: Week 8; $3,154 from one theater; $792,627 total
  • Baahubali 2: Week 11; $1,162 from one theater; $20,790,774 total

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Tubelight (2017)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon or iTunes

Much of the critical consensus around Little Boy — the 2015 American movie upon which Tubelight is based — condemns the movie as an offensive form of religious chauvinism. Armed with that foreknowledge, I expected Tubelight to be a disaster. Thankfully, it is not. Though flawed, it’s an enjoyable and touching examination of the lives of loved ones left behind during times of war.

Tubelight resets Little Boy‘s story from World-War-II-era California to the small mountain town of Jagatpur in far northern India during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Americans can be forgiven for not remembering this conflict, as it happened at the same time as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Tubelight also recasts the titular “little boy” from the original film with 51-year-old Salman Khan. Khan plays Laxman, a mentally handicapped adult whose nickname “Tubelight” refers to the long time it takes for him to catch on to concepts. His younger brother Bharat (Sohail Khan, Salman’s actual younger brother) is his bodyguard and cheerleader, encouraging Laxman to believe in himself, even if no one else does. The pair feature in a song number about brotherly love made awkward by the siblings’ stiff dance moves.

The most uncomfortable aspect of Tubelight is the degree to which the town condones the bullying of Laxman. Young and old alike feel free to laugh at Laxman for even minor gaffes, and everyone seems okay with this. It’s sad.

Besides Bharat, Laxman’s only defenders are kindly Maya (Isha Talwar) and scholarly Banne (Om Puri). It falls on them to look after Laxman when border tensions between India and China inspire Bharat to enlist. As the conflict escalates, Laxman struggles with his loneliness and inability to bring Bharat home.

In order to keep Laxman busy, Banne encourages him to practice living by Gandhi’s principles, such as conquering fear and loving one’s enemies. Laxman thinks doing so will increase the strength of his belief, thereby empowering him to will his brother’s return. He puts Gandhi’s values into action when a widowed mother named Liling (Zhu Zhu) and her young son Guo (Matin Rey Tangu) move into a house on the outskirts of town. Though Indian by birth, their Chinese ethnicity marks them as outcasts. Laxman overcomes his own trepidation to befriend the little boy, earning him the ire of many townsfolk.

The indulgence by Banne and other villagers of Laxman’s fantasy that he can change things if he just believes hard enough feels wrong. Laxman isn’t a child who will one day come to understand that people were humoring him. He simply isn’t capable. Liling is the only person who reasons with Laxman honestly, trying to explain things in terms he can grasp. She stresses that bad things don’t happen because of a lack of faith, and that self-belief is important for its own merits, not because it can work miracles.

Moments like the conversation between Liling and Laxman give Tubelight authenticity. While Laxman may be particularly ill-equipped to handle something as horrible as war, everyone feels helpless when their loved ones are in danger. For all his intellectual shortcomings, Laxman is quicker to appreciate the distinction between individuals and governments than the rest of Jagatpur. He sees Guo and Liling for who they are, not as representatives of some hostile foreign power.

Such surface-level hatred is personified by the town bully, Narayan (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub). He’s an effective villain because his racism and xenophobia are reflexive and just understated enough that people are willing to follow him. He hears that a Chinese family has moved to town, and his instinct is to attack them. The speed with which he reacts makes it seem as though it is the natural way to react. It’s chilling.

Little Matin Rey Tangu is charming as Salman’s sidekick. They share a funny scene in which Laxman confesses his lies, only to run away before he can face the consequences. Zhu Zhu gives a solid performance, and watching her dance is a treat. Om Puri and Sohail Khan are great in a scene in which they discuss how Laxman will cope without Bharat.

Salman is overall pretty good, but he’s at his best during moments of heightened emotions, such as when Laxman is afraid for his brother or when he’s protecting Guo. His earnestness drives home the importance of rejecting racism and xenophobia as a way to free ourselves from fear and spread peace.


Opening July 7: Mom and Guest Iin London

Two new Hindi films hit Chicago area theaters on July 7, 2017. Sridevi plays the title character in the thriller Mom, which gets the wider release of the two movies.

Mom opens Friday at AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

This weekend’s other new release is the comedy Guest Iin London, the followup to 2010’s Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?. Paresh Rawal returns as the problematic guest, but Ajay Devgn and Konkona Sen Sharma aren’t back for the sequel, sadly. Guest Iin London opens Friday at the South Barrington 24 and has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 13 min.

Following a stellar holiday weekend, The Big Sick expands across the Chicago area on Friday. Tubelight carries over at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24.

Tickets are already on sale for the 15th anniversary presentation of Devdas, taking place in theaters across the United States on Sunday, July 23. Visit Fathom Events for more information and a list of theaters carrying the special showing.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: June 30-July 2, 2017

Things didn’t get any better for Salman Khan’s Tubelight in its second weekend in North America. From June 30-July 2, 2017, Tubelight earned $157,499 from 169 theaters ($932 average), bringing its total to $1,448,473. Tubelight‘s earned 83% less in its second weekend than its first — a much larger first-to-second-weekend drop than experienced by the other 2017 releases that earned more than $1 million here (which experienced drops ranging from 52%-71%). On the year’s list of overall highest earners in North America, you have to go down to OK Jaanu in 13th place to find a worse week-to-week holdover. The only caveat is that attendance in the United States was likely spread out over five days instead of three because of Independence Day on Tuesday, July 4. The daily earnings report by 143 Cinema provides some supporting evidence of that possibility. Still, this is a really disappointing performance.

Other Hindi movies still in US theaters:

  • Hindi Medium: Week 7; $6,186 from one theater; $784,609 total
  • Baahubali 2: Week 10; $890 from two theaters; $445 average; $20787,324 total

Sources: 143 Cinema and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: June 23-25, 2017

Salman Khan’s Tubelight debuted in second place in the United States among new Indian movies, behind Allu Arjun’s Telugu film DJ: Duvvada Jagannadham! Salman squeaked out victory in North America overall thanks to the contributions of theaters in Canada — where DJ didn’t even release. From June 23-25, 2017, Bollywood Hungama reports that Tubelight earned $926,816 from 372 North American theaters ($2,491 average; adjusted average of $2,710 from 342 theaters*). Of that total, $169,344 came from 30 Canadian theaters, amounting to 18% of the total earnings from just 8% of the total theaters (342). Gitesh Pandya of Box Office Guru reports North American earnings of $930,058 from 338 theaters ($2,752 average) for Tubelight. That total was good enough to rank in 14th place at the overall North American box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

It’s easy to forget that the notion of Salman as a box office gold mine is a recent development in North America. Until the blockbuster performance of Bajrangi Bhaijaan in the summer of 2015, none of Salman’s films managed to earn more than $2.5 million here. Tubelight should earn around $2 million over the course of its run, putting it in line with the earnings of his releases from 2011-2014 — movies like Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger, and Kick. We’ll have to wait until Tiger Zinda Hai releases this Christmas to see if Salman’s superb (if short) string of hits is really over.

DJ: Duvvada Jagannadham took in $873,249 from 190 US theaters ($4,596 average), 15th place overall at the North American box office.

Other Hindi movies still showing in the US:

  • Hindi Medium: Week 6; $9,228 from five theaters; $1,846 average; $773,477 total
  • Baahubali 2: Week 9; $726 from three theaters; $242 average; $20,786,308 total

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Sources: Box Office Guru, Box Office Mojo, and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening June 23: Tubelight

Salman Khan’s annual Eid release hits theaters on June 23, 2017. Tubelight is an official remake of the 2015 faith-based film Little Boy, with Salman essaying a role played by an 8-year-old in the original. Chinese actress Zhu Zhu costars in the movie.

Tubelight opens Friday in 342 theaters across North America, including the following Chicagoland theaters: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Niles, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Dine-In Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville, Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and AMC Loews Crestwood 18 in Crestwood. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs 15 min.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Split Screen Podcast, Episode 30: The Tubelight Trailer vs. The Little Boy Trailer

In a first for the Split Screen Podcast, Shah Shahid and I spent an entire episode comparing two movie trailers! That’s because the trailer for Salman Khan’s upcoming flick Tubelight is almost beat-for-beat the same as the trailer for the movie on which it’s based: Little Boy. Check out the two trailers at the bottom of this post for yourself, then listen to the podcast to hear our thoughts.

You can subscribe to the Split Screen Podcast at iTunes, or you can listen to Episode 30 in your browser on this page at Shah’s website, Blank Page Beatdown. Every episode of the Split Screen Podcast can be found here. I’m featured in the following episodes: