BETAAB

Released August 5, 1983.  Written by Javed Akhtar and directed by Rahul Rawail.  Starring Sunny Deol, Amrita Singh, Nirupa Roy, Shammi Kapoor, Prem Chopra, and Rajeev Anand.
After having lost her wealth and her husband, Sumrita Devi (Roy) moved out into the countryside with her son, Sunny (Deol).  Together, they created a farm that provided their food, as well as their meager income.  But Sumrita always missed the good friends they’d had before their time of hardship.  Both mother and son especially missed Roma (Singh), daughter of family friend, Dinesh Singh Girji (Kapoor).  Sunny and Roma were inseparable as children.  Sunny, even at the age of eight, had declared he’d marry Roma one day.
Years later, fate brings Roma – now a very spoiled young woman – to Sunny’s small village.  He recognizes her immediately and begins a game of ‘Taming of the Shrew’, while at the same time rekindling their childhood love.  Roma’s father, however, wants no part of his rich daughter marrying below her status.  Meanwhile, nefarious men close to Dinesh Singh Girji plot to usurp his wealth.
The story was very typical of Bollywood movies of that time.  There was nothing new to be seen…especially for anyone watching the movie today, after having seen many other films with similar plots.  However, what sells a formula movie is not the story, but the execution and the personalities.  With Javed Akhtar as writer, this movie already had an advantage over the others!  But this movie also had Sunny Deol.  In fact, it was Sunny’s debut movie, and what an amazing entrance he made!  With an easy confidence rarely seen in new actors, Sunny’s debut performance was exciting, sexy, and extremely competent.  His comfort in front of the camera was no doubt due to having grown up in the business, thanks to his actor-legend father, Dharmendra.
What makes this film stand out is Sunny’s gentle and amusing handling of the love interest.  He’s a bold scamp; keeping things well under control with a twinkle in his eye.  His natural sensuality is also in abundance, especially during the snake bite scene!  He was completely charming.  And finally, Sunny’s trade-mark action skills hit the ground running in scenes that were obviously shot with no trickery.  From his ride on a fiercely bucking horse, to his jumping fearlessly from very high places, to the obligatory fight scenes…Sunny was nothing short of astounding in this movie.
The settings were very pleasant, giving the film an American western feel.  The directing was also top shelf, getting maximum effect from every choice.  It also did well at the box office that year; coming in at number 8 on the year’s top ten list.

If you’re a Sunny Deol fan and haven’t seen this movie yet…do it.  If you’re Bollywood-curious and want to see what one of its stars was like at the very beginning…see it.  If you’ve been exposed to Bollywood all your life, like 80’s and 90’s films, but somehow missed this one, don’t miss it!   There are several online options currently streaming this very delightful movie.

Availability for Indian films online changes regularly.  Check for this movie on Netflix, Amazon Video, ErosNow.com, and einthusan.com.  Sometimes, films can also be found on YouTube with English subtitles.

NO TRAILER AVAILABLE – WATCH THIS SONG FROM THE FILM

For more great movie reviews, visit our Movie Review Quicklinks page.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

TAMASHA

Released November 27, 2015.  Written and directed by Imtiaz Ali.  Starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.
This is the story of Ved (Kapoor); the son of a self-made man.  Though Ved is a creative soul, his father has forced him into a corporate life in order to carry on the family’s success.  On holiday in Corsica, Ved meets Tara (Padukone), and for a few days, he lets his inner-self out to play.  Tara likes this craziness.  More than that…she begins to love it.  But vacations are temporary, and the two part as anonymously as they had met.  Years later in India, Tara finds her love again, only to encounter the corporate drone and societal conformer.  Her rejection then sets Ved on a course of rebirth that both destroys him and saves him.
Whenever a movie is written and directed by one person, the result is often a singular and focused example of purposeful film craft.  “Tamasha” was no exception.  It was an amazing script, with a story that millions – including myself – can relate to.  The direction was not only superb, it went above and beyond to be amazingly artistic and daring.  The cinematography was also exceptionally artistic, as well as excellent.  Even the settings were deliberately chosen to enhance the artistic feel of this movie.
Unlike some other over-artsy films that can be artsy just for art’s sake, “Tamasha” also had a solid story to tell.  And as he has done consistently throughout his career, Ranbir Kapoor delivered a stellar performance, with profound depth and intensity.  Deepika Padukone was also solid in her role, leaving no room for poor performances to tarnish this otherwise immaculately crafted piece of cinema.
This is one man’s journey to find himself in a world that wants him to be something he’s not.  Writer/director, Ali, spares no effort in making in a journey that captures an viewer and pulls them along.  It’s engrossing, it’s meaningful, and it’s all wrapped up in a package that delights the eyes and the senses.

Availability for Indian films online changes regularly.  Check for this movie on Netflix, Amazon Video, ErosNow.com, and einthusan.com.  Sometimes, films can also be found on YouTube with English subtitles.

TRAILER

For more great movie reviews, visit our Movie Review Quicklinks page.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

BOLLYWOOD BOX OFFICE NEWS – AUGUST 14, 2017

With Rs. 51.45 *crore, “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” has collected the fourth highest-grossing opening weekend (so far) of 2017.  It has also landed on the year’s top ten list at number 10.  This is despite very mixed reviews.  Some have lauded the film’s courage in tackling a very sensitive social subject. Other reviews judged the film harshly on its job as an entertainment product.  One reviewer went as far as to say …”it stinks to high Heaven.”
No matter what the critics say, however, this movie has obviously touched a nerve, as well as the heart, with India’s movie-going public. This can clearly be seen in how collections increased daily over the weekend:  FRI (13.10 c.)  SAT (17.10 c.)  SUN (21.25 c.). Despite a high-grossing opening weekend, will Akshay Kumar’s newest follow the same path as all its other fellow summer Blockbuster-would-be films?  Will it crash during opening week?
The next four days will tell.

Meanwhile, “Jab Harry Met Sejal” only managed 2.95 crore over its second weekend.  However, this small amount did allow the film to move into position 7 on the year’s top ten list; increasing its chance to remain on the list at year’s end. It would need another 7 crore to surpass “Hindi Medium” and move into position 6.  Considering the tragic collections thus far, Shahrukh Khan’s newest may have a lot of trouble achieving even that.  There will be significant-earning films releasing every Friday for the next three weeks.  With an already-crippled performance at the box office, “Jab Harry Met Sejal” may just have to withdraw from all screens prematurely.

* 1 crore = 10,000,000 rupees

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

TOILET: EK PREM KATHA

Released August 11, 2017.  Written by Garima and Siddharth.  Directed by Shree Narayan Singh.  Starring Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar, and Anumap Kher.
After winning the heart of Jaya (Pednekar), Keshav (Kumar) brings his new bride home to begin a happy married life.  When Jaya learns her new home has no toilet, however, the honeymoon ends and a battle begins.  While Keshav fights to save his marriage, Jaya fights to save her dignity.  Before long, both join forces to fight against government corruption, as well as village tradition, to win public toilet facilities for all women.
This was an excellent script with a very important message.  It was a message that sorely needed a high-profile platform like an Akshay Kumar movie, in order to be heard by all.  The director did a wonderful job in creating dramatic moments that were moving and emotional.  With the exception of a few secondary characters, the acting was superb; especially when Akshay Kumar’s character experienced emotional distress.  The cinematography was excellent, and the directing was solid.
Unlike many other movies in recent years with a strong social message, however, “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” was not a snugly wrapped in an entertaining story.  There are many things that make a movie “good”: writing, directing, cinematography, acting, music, and entertainment value.  This movie had excellent writing, directing, cinematography, and acting…but it fell a bit short with music and entertainment value.  It was far more obvious in its mission of public service.  Though the characters were well-written and well-acted, they just weren’t that interesting, engaging, or entertaining.
If the cause and mission of this film is close to your heart, then by all means, see this film.  It is very good.  It had some great scenes and powerful moments – like the song shown in the heading picture.  If you just want a night out to see a highly entertaining film, this one just might leave you a bit unsatisfied.

This movie is still playing in theaters.

TRAILER

For more great movie reviews, visit our Movie Review Quicklinks page.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

BOLLYWOOD BOX OFFICE NEWS – AUGUST 11, 2017

Releasing today:

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (comedy, drama): Akshay Kumar.  “A newly married couple is from a village where at least 80% of households are without any access to a lavatories. Conflict comes knocking on the first day of their marriage when Jaya leaves Keshav’s house after discovering that there is no toilet in the home. Distraught and desperate, Keshav sets out on mission to win back his love- by battling against the age old traditions, mind-set and value system of his country.
This film is showing at 136 theaters across America.  Visit this link to check for a theater and showtime near you.

Hamara Tiranga (history, war): “An untold story of India’s independence.”  NO TRAILER AVAILABLE

Also releasing in the Bollywood market today is the English film, “Atomic Blonde“.   “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha“, however, will be the clear front runner on Monday.  Not only has Akshay Kumar become the king of the box office over the past three years, but this film is about a social message…and films with social messages have also been burning up the box office in recent years.  This double boost will mean that “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” will dominate; all but shutting down every other film on the screen.

Previous releases:

At the end of its first week-day stretch, “Jab Harry Met Sejal” has collected only Rs. 59.65 *crore, and has moved into position 8 on the year’s top 10.  It’s very rare that a movie matches – or even comes close to matching – its opening week collections in the remainder of its screen life.  This is why it’s not likely that this movie will reach or cross 100 crore…which is a shame.  We here at VBB feel this was a very enjoyable movie, with one of Shahrukh Khan’s finest acting performances.  It just didn’t find its way into the hearts of the Indian public.
With dwindling daily collections, however, and with “Toilet” releasing today, this movie may climb to position six on the list (it just needs another 10 crore), but it will not likely go higher.  The only question remaining is…will it be enough to hold onto the top ten list at the end of the year?

Over its second week-day stretch, “Mubarakan” added another 5.54 collections, bring the total to Rs. 47.25 crore.  Though this movie may reach or cross the 50 crore mark, it will not enter the top ten list, thanks to “Toilet” releasing today.

* 1 crore = 10,000,000 rupees

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

BOLLYWOOD BOX OFFICE NEWS – AUGUST 7, 2017

Jab Harry Met Sejal” had a very steady opening weekend, earning almost exactly the same each day. It came in with the third highest-grossing opening day (so far) of 2017, and the fifth highest-grossing opening weekend; earning Rs. 45.75 *crore.
Day by day, the collections were: (FRI) 15.25 c., (SAT) 15.00 c., and (SUN) 15.50 c.  In these first three days, it has also landed on the year’s top ten list, at number 10.
All that’s left to see is how high it will climb on the top ten list by the end of its first week.  Will it cross 100 crore?  It might have a little trouble if it doesn’t make it over the next four days.  On Friday, Akshay Kumar returns to the big screen.  This will give Shahrukh Khan some serious competition.
Jab Harry Met Sejal” release-date mate, “Gurgaon” collected Rs. 6.7 crore over its opening weekend.

Over its second weekend, “Mubarakan” collected an additional 6.08 crore; bringing its lifetime collections thus far to Rs. 41.71 crore.  When “Jab Harry Met Sejal” moves to position 9 on the top ten list later today, that will leave “Sachin: A Billion Dreams” in position 10, with Rs. 50.89 crore. That will be the number to beat in order to enter the list.  Can “Mubarakan” earn another 9.20 crore, going into a second week?  Though it may earn 10 crore more in its lifetime, it’s doubtful that it will enter the top ten.  “Jab Harry Met Sejal” will be dominating the box office for the next four days. Then when “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” releases on Friday, there will be even more pressure from the a-List.  Akshay Kumar’s film will also enter the top ten, raising the bar even higher.

It looks like screen life may be coming to an end for “Lipstick Under My Burkha“.  Over its third weekend, it collected just 0.80 crore.  This brings its lifetime total to Rs. 18.05 crore.  Going into a third week, with two major films to contend with come Friday, it’s likely this ground-breaking, controversial movie that was nearly cancelled by the censor board will not reach 19 crore. However, it’s had a profound
affect.

* 1 crore = 10,000,000 rupees

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

JAB HARRY MET SEJAL

Released August 4, 2017.
Written and directed by Imtiaz Ali.  Starring Shahrukh Khan and Anushka Sharma.
Harry (Khan) is a lonely, womanizing, European tour guide. His jaded bitterness regarding all matters of the heart is his only companion in a lonely life lived from his suitcase.  Sejal (Sharma) and her fiance got engaged during the tour, but when she lost her ring, she returned to demand that Harry escort her to search for it.
This movie may have had more of a casual, modern feel than many of Shah’s classics. It also may have traded modesty for boldness, and the over-polished dance numbers for a more cutting edge soundtrack and freestyle dance. But there is no denying that this new film just hit all the right chords to earn its place along side those enduring classics. The casual treatment was perfect for today’s audiences, as well as for the actors at this stage of their careers.
The movie did have one major problem.  Sejal’s character treatment was incomplete.  Her motivations and subsequent behaviors were thin and undefined. She did not behave like a woman so upset about losing her engagement ring that she was compelled to spare no cost in finding it. She did not behave like a woman who’d just gotten engaged to a man we are to assume she wanted to marry. Her character was immediately carefree, with very few inhibitions when it came to Harry.  Unfortunately, this made the core plot feel weak and constructed.
If there were scenes that would have better explained her behavior, then those scenes didn’t make it to the final cut. But there was enough story in Harry’s growth and there was enough romantic intensity to forgive the faulty road that led us there.  Also, seeing Khan’s performance in this movie makes up for the failures with Sejal’s character!
Shahrukh Khan has managed to recapture the magic of his earlier films in this new movie that features his best character portrayal in years!  Often criticized for over-acting, Khan was magnificently spot-on in his portrayal of Harry.  His acting had depth, intensity, and an honest authenticity that hasn’t been seen since “Jab Tak Hai Jaan“. If anyone had begun to wonder if Shah had lost his touch and was on his way out, this film put all reservations to rest. Not only was his acting completely top shelf, but he delivered an energy and heat that can leave no one doubting that he’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Though her characterization had problems, Anushka Sharma still did an excellent job, as always, in her role.  She had great chemistry with Shah, an never faltered in her performance.
The music was amazing!  Cutting edge, as mentioned earlier.  And there was something about the loose and freestyle dancing that just made the film feel more raw, fun, and intimate.  It made you feel there.
All in all, a great movie you’re not going to want to miss!!

This movie is still playing in theaters.

TRAILER

For more great movie reviews, visit our Movie Review Quicklinks page.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

BOLLYWOOD BOX OFFICE NEWS – AUGUST 4, 2017

Releasing today:

Jab Harry Met Sejal (romance):  Shahrukh Khan and Anushka Sharma.  “The story revolves around Harry and Sejal’s journey across Europe. A search for Sejal’s engagement ring makes Harry understand love and relationships better. Sejal experiences new found freedom, security and solace in Harry’s company and in between all of this – there is love, life, lies, thrill, fantasy and the search for the voice within.”
This film is showing at 223 theaters across America.  Visit this link to check for a theater and showtime near you.

Gurgaon (thriller)  “Based on true event this story revolves around kidnapping of Preeto which family has come to know from midnight call. The tales revolves as to how they family will be able to track Preeto.”   TRAILER

The clear front runner of today’s releases will be “Jab Harry Met Sejal“.  There is no doubt of the dominance it will have over “Gurgaon“.  However, the question that remains is…will “Jab Harry Met Sejal” have what it takes to save the failing summer blockbuster season?  So far, the movies expected to make a big splash at the box office have ended up drowning, instead.  First was Salman Khan’s flop film, “Tubelight“.  This was followed by Disney’s flop, “Jagga Jasoos“…followed by the flop, “Munna Michael“.  So far, the anticipated blockbusters of 2017 have been coming up zeroes.  Will Shahrukh and Anushka be able to pull summer out of its slump by delivering the next film to join 2017’s growing 100 crore club?  It certainly looks like it might!

Previous releases:

At the end of its first week, “Mubarakan” has reached Rs. 35.66 *crore.  This is the ninth highest-grossing opening week, (so far) of 2017.  This means it earned a respectable 12.75 crore over its first week-day stretch, averaging 3.18 crore, per day.  It’s not quite the 14 crore we were looking for on Monday, so it’s very unlikely this movie will enter the year’s top ten list, even temporarily.  With “Jab Harry Met Sejal” releasing today, the bottom line to enter the top ten will be 51 crore, instead of the 37 crore it is right now.  To enter the top ten, “Mubarakan” would need to collect another 15.5 crore, and with the big, A-list film shutting out all other movies at the box office, this may not be possible.  It will also need 51 crore to recoup its 50 crore budget.  Luckily, with international collections figured in, it has managed to just cross 55 crore.

Though there are no further reports for the collections of the failed “Munna Michael“, several articles this morning are praising “Lipstick Under My Burkha” for how strong it has remained over its second week-day stretch!  It was able to add another 2.53 crore; bringing the lifetime total so far to Rs. 17.25 crore!  This is an incredible 51% drop from its first week-day stretch.  Typically for most successful movies, this drop reaches close to 70%.  Its clear this film is critically solid, and has value for those who are seeing it.

* 1 crore = 10,000,000 rupees

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

BANK CHOR

Released June 16, 2017.  Written by Baljeet Singh Marwah and directed by Bumpy.  Starring Riteish Deshmukh, Vicek Oberoi, and Rhea Chakraborty.
Bumbling bank robbers with soft hearts find their bank heist going awry.  To make matter’s worse, a blood-thirsty, trigger-fingered cop shows up to personally make sure they don’t get out alive.  But nothing is as it seems.
This movie promised to be yet another stupid and mindless comedy, yet delivered more depth and plot than was ever expected from the trailer.  It may have started that way, but it became serious…with morality, as well as life and death on the line.  Unfortunately, it also pulled the rug from under viewers with its needless and unsatisfying ending twists.  They’re criminals…they’re heroes…they’re criminals…they’re heroes…they’re criminals.  This movie would have been better written and much more satisfying if it had gone, they’re criminals…they’re heroes, and left it at that.  As we wrote for the “Commando 2” review, there was nothing else throughout the film to support all the twists and reveals at the end.  This is what made them jarring, senseless, and really not necessary.
That being said, there was a lot to like about this movie.  Following Champak’s (Deshmukh) evolution throughout his time in the bank was surprisingly entertaining.  The character is likeable; first in his suffering of two idiot partners, then throughout the sweetness in him that led to his change of heart, then throughout the stubborn bravery he displayed while trying to protect everyone.  Despite this film’s script problems, Deshmukh’s performance was top shelf.  He really pulled your heart into the movie.
Oberoi was also excellent as Amjad Khan.  He was very believable throughout all the scenes that portrayed him as a dangerous, criminal-killing cop.  He was also just as solid in the scenes that portrayed him as a more intelligent, compassionate officer with a bigger plan.
This film may have been billed as a comedy, but the performances of these two actors were solid and serious.  That is, until the end, when the script itself sabotaged the integrity of the characterizations.
If you like these two actors and you want to see them in roles where they excel, then by all means, watch this movie.  If you’re not a stickler for poor writing, then there is no reason not to enjoy.  As we said earlier, there is a lot to like.

Availability for Indian films online changes regularly.  Check for this movie on Netflix, Amazon Video, ErosNow.com, and einthusan.com.  Sometimes, films can also be found on YouTube with English subtitles.

TRAILER

For more great movie reviews, visit our Movie Review Quicklinks page.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

RAABTA

Released June 9, 2017.  Written by Garima and Siddharth.  Starring Sushant Singh Rajput, Kriti Sanon, and Jim Sarbh.
This is a reincarnation love story in which Saira (Sanon) and Shiv (Rajput) are inexplicably drawn together in a modern-day relationship.  When they put their love to the test, however, a rich prince (Sarbh) comes between them.  Saira had always had dreams she couldn’t explain, but when this strange new pursuer tries to force her to go with him, an ancient tale comes to light.  But will history repeat itself?
This is not a new story in Bollywood.  The newness or reuse of a story, however, does not actually have anything to do with the quality of any film.  It succeeds or fails based on its execution of the story.  This was a nice, enjoyable tale.  The script was better than other movies we have seen here at VBB that tell this tale.  The directing and cinematography were also better…though none of it particularly stands out as far and above the rest.  It was solidly good, if not exceptionally great.
But there was something great about this movie.  Rajput and Sanon’s acting!  They both did a fantastic job, and were completely believable as their characters in both time periods.  They may not be A-list performers, but there was no denying their talent in this movie.  They also had good chemistry.
In the flashback sequence, perhaps the CGI was a bit over-the-top. Perhaps the wire-support used for jumping and climbing effects was a little too obvious.  But this movie was not an epic fantasy adventure – which relies heavily on those elements.  This was a love story.
All in all, this was a very satisfying film, with some really nice visuals, solid execution, and some really nice music.  If you like the reincarnation love story, this is a good one.

Availability for Indian films online changes regularly.  Check for this movie on Netflix, Amazon Video, ErosNow.com, and einthusan.com.  Sometimes, films can also be found on YouTube with English subtitles.

TRAILER

For more great movie reviews, visit our Movie Review Quicklinks page.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Inspiring America to embrace Indian cinema