While the majority of the worst Bollywood films of 2015 are guilty of garden variety stupidity, a pair of movies were especially loathsome. Here are my picks for the worst Bollywood movies of 2015. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
The dual-narrative romantic drama Roy wound up on the list due to an excess of ennui and emotionally immature dialogue.
Jazbaa managed to make talented actors Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Irrfan Khan look ridiculous (and green-tinted).
Two awful examples of Bollywood nepotism made the list. Producer-offspring Jackky Bhagnani’s inevitable rise to super-stardom was deferred yet again by his awful performance in Welcome 2 Karachi. In her Bollywood debut, Govinda’s daughter Tina single-handedly ruins Second Hand Husband with her squinty delivery and nonexistent dance moves.
The most painful theater-going experience of the year was Shamitabh, a movie so annoying that I was literally begging out loud for it to end.
The offensive Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 came in a close second place for suggesting that all women who report being raped are liars. That such a hateful movie purports to be a comedy makes it all the more disturbing.
My worst movie of 2015 struck a nerve, going beyond just offending and veering into moral recklessness. Director Umesh Shukla and writers Sumit Arora and Niren Bhatt should be ashamed for claiming that Alzheimer’s disease is a result of filial neglect that can easily be cured if children are nicer to their parents. Given that a lack of awareness about Alzheimer’s persists in India, using a film to offer bogus medical advice and assign undeserved blame is irresponsible. For those reasons — in addition to it being just a plain old sucky movie — my worst Bollywood film of 2015 is All Is Well.
Dil Dhadakne Do became the first Hindi film of 2015 to earn more than $1 million in North America in its opening weekend. From June 5-7, Dil Dhadakne Do earned $1,287,170 from 259 theaters, an average of $4,970 per screen.
Meanwhile, Tanu Weds Manu Returns inched closer to a $3 million total in the US and Canada. In its third weekend, it took in another $268,736 from 149 theaters ($1,804 average), bringing its total to $2,716,437.
Piku continued its impressive run through its fifth weekend, adding another $22,877 from 12 theaters ($1,906 average) to bring its North American tally to $2,202,585.
In its second weekend in theaters, poor old Welcome 2 Karachi earned just $748 from six theaters ($125 average). Its North American total stands at $35,661.
One new Bollywood film hits Chicago area theaters on June 5, 2015, and it’s a big one: Dil Dhadakne Do (“Let the Heart Beat“). Zoya Akhtar directs an ensemble cast that includes Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anil Kapoor, and Shefali Shah as a dysfunctional family on a cruise ship that also carries Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns gets a third week at all of the above theaters, except for the Crestwood 18. Piku gets a fifth week at the South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, and MovieMax, which also holds over Welcome 2 Karachi for a second week.
Another release of note this weekend is the restored version of director Satyajit Ray’s The Apu Trilogy. The three Bengali classics start their run on Friday at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago. Click here for a national theater list.
Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Masss (Tamil w/English subtitles) and Pandaga Chesko (Telugu) at the Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge and MovieMax, which also carries Nee-na (Malayalam) and the Telugu movies Andhra Pori, Asura, and Rakshasudu.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns continued its astounding run at the North American box office for a second weekend. From May 29-31, 2015, it earned another $698,921 from 150 theaters ($4,659 average). Its business fell just 28% from its first weekend to its second, and it carried over in the same number of theaters in which it debuted. It’s already the highest grossing Hindi film in the US and Canada this year, with total earnings of $2,222,228.
Piku held up exceedingly well in its fourth weekend, adding another $96,710 from 58 theaters ($1,667 average) to bring its total to $2,154,635.
Welcome 2 Karachi landed in theaters with a thud, pulling in just $26,013 from 39 theaters ($667 average) in its opening weekend.
Bombay Velvet‘s fall has been precipitous. In its third weekend of release, it showed in just three theaters, earning a mere $797 ($266 average). Yikes. Its total North American earnings stand at $438,408. That’s good enough to rank it in sixth place for the year, but a movie that opened in 239 theaters — 89 more than the next widest release — should be at the top of the chart.
When a character in Welcome 2 Karachi says, “I want to shoot myself,” it felt like he’d read my mind. Watching this alleged comedy is torture.
I’m still not entirely sure where the film’s first scenes take place. Former British Navy officer Shammi (Arshad Warsi) and his idiot friend, Kedar (Jackky Bhagnani), work for Kedar’s dad, an event planner. They discuss Kedar’s desire to move to America, preferably via a boat from London.
Kedar’s dad puts the guys in charge of a yacht party, accompanied by a dozen bikini clad white women. The boat sinks after being caught in a ridiculous CGI cyclone, and Shammi and Kedar wash ashore in…Karachi, Pakistan?
Despite all the indications that the movie opens in the UK — Shammi’s British Navy discharge, talk of traveling from London to America, a boatload of white women — they must have been in India all along. Otherwise, their arrival in Pakistan would make no sense. Not that sense has much value in Welcome 2 Karachi.
The movie is casually violent to a jarring degree. While the guys are still passed out onshore, a bomb explodes next to them, killing dozens of people. They joke around in a morgue. When the guys seek help from the Indian embassy, they trigger gun battles between several other embassies: the US and Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and Russia and Ukraine. Because ongoing conflicts with civilian casualties are hilarious.
Lowbrow jokes based on offensive generalizations are tossed about without care. Every Pakistani is violent. White women are scantily-clad sex objects. Americans are buffoons keen to take credit for military victories they didn’t earn. India is always the best, yet the first thing Shammi and Kedar request upon their rescue as accidental heroes is joint US-UK citizenship.
Lauren Gottlieb plays a Pakistani spy, but the fact that she’s actually a white American means that Kedar and Shammi can hallucinate her performing a sexy dance number in a bra top and hotpants.
Her character doesn’t do much to drive the plot forward, but then again, neither do any other characters. Stuff just happens, and characters drop in and out of the narrative at random. By the time Shammi & Kedar’s redemptive arc peaks with them having to rescue a plane full of deaf Paralympians, I wanted to barf.
As poorly constructed as the story is, the technical execution in Welcome 2 Karachi is worse. Every bit of CGI — from the cyclone to the plane taking off — looks cheap. The voice dubbing is wretched. It’s easy to tell which characters have been dubbed because their lips don’t match the words they speak.
The movie has particular trouble with its American characters. The dubbing is so bad that the same character’s voice changes from scene to scene. A high-pitched Southern accent becomes a flat, middle-American accent the next.
Also, why is the American embassy in India staffed by Aussies, and the American embassy in Pakistan staffed by Brits?
Welcome 2 Karachi‘s single biggest problem is that its main characters are annoying. Almost every character who meets Shammi and Kedar eventually tells them to shut up. If everyone else in the film finds them that irritating, imagine how annoying they must be to a bored, confused audience.