SHUBH MANGAL SAAVDHAN

Released September 1, 2017.  Written by R.S. Prasanna and Hitesh Kewalya.  Directed by R.S. Prasanna.  Starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar.
Mudit (Khurrana) fell in love with Sugandha (Pednekar), but when a performing bear interrupted his attempt to talk to her, he lost confidence and resorted to an online proposal, which Sugandha’s parents accepted before consulting her.  When she saw that her online proposal was the young man who was attacked while trying to meet her, Sugandha became willing, but mourned the lost chance at the kind of love story made famous by 1990’s Bollywood movies.  She put up just enough resistance to make things interesting, but when a genuine issue threatened their future together, that’s when Mudit and Sugandha dug in their heels and everything that made those 90’s romances magical began to happen.
Who said romance is dead?  So many other films have tried to make modern romances that portray the realities of mediocrity, with its fear of commitment, awkwardness, and dysfunction.  Films like these, however, don’t satisfy when it comes to romance.  Good romance calls for brave hearts, and “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” delivered that in spades.  It remembered the most important thing that many newer romances have forgotten: romance is about the heart, not about sex.
In classic romance fashion, Mudit and Sugandha defied their parents and never once questioned their feelings. Once the trouble was known, Sugandha never wavered in her support.  There was also the beautiful series of grand gestures on the part of Mudit that was reminiscent of the classic heroes.  All while still maintaining a modern essence.  This film really knew what it was doing when it chose to show a montage at the beginning of clips from classic romances.  And the climactic moment really brought back images of a particularly powerful scene from Aamir Khan’s “Dil” (1990)!  So great!
The script was original and solid, with rich characters and depth.  Though the movie skirted several social issues, it never lost itself in them.  It remained first and foremost, a romance about Mudit and Sugandha.  When the messages did come, however, they were well blended and appreciated.  The absolute best was the one about love and sex, and how modern society has raised the bar of expectation for women to either be super-models or porn stars.  Anything less has become unacceptable to many men, and so lots of ‘regular’ women go unappreciated.  It also does a great job of enforcing the ideal that being a strong and brave man, as well as a legendary lover, has very little to do with what’s in your trousers.
Thanks to having starred previously in “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” together, Ayushmann and Bhumi had great chemistry, and both delivered fantastic performances.  The romance was real, the heat was real, and the sentiment was strong.  Their characters were not only likeable, but also admirable and sympathetic.  It was a pleasure to spend two hours with them. For the ladies specifically, Ayushmann had no problem filling the shoes of his predecessors.  He was charming, he was intense, and he was sexy.  The look in his eyes while Mudit and Sugandha were preparing food for the guests was nothing short of steaming…just like the greats of the 90’s!  He was a natural in the role.
Though its box office earnings were low, it was still a hit because it nearly doubled its investment.  VBB considers this one of the best, most entertaining and enjoyable romances of 2017.  A box office sleeping giant!

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.

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DARNA MANA HAI

Released July 25, 2003.  Written by Atul Sabharwal, Rajnish Thakur, and Abbas Tyrewala.  Directed by Prawaal Raman.  Starring Sohail Khan, Antara Mali, Saif Ali Khan, Boman Irani, Raghuvir Yadav, Shilpa Shetty, Rajpal Yadav, Nana Patekar, Vivek Oberoi, and Aftab Shivdasani.
In this spooky anthology, seven friends seek shelter after their car has broken down in a remote area.  To pass the time, they tell scary stories around a camp fire.  One by one, however, members of the group step away and mysteriously never return.
A husband and wife break down in the middle of nowhere and the wife hallucinates her husband’s death…but was it a hallucination?  In a remote hotel, you either stop the habit of smoking, or you die trying at the hands of the hotel’s enigmatic owner.  A guilty teacher loses his mind after a girl begins doing her homework in a way that reminds him of his past sins.  An apple seller tempts a woman into buying apples she suspects immediately to be dangerous.  A television stunt backfires when a man posing as a ghost falls victim to his own charade.  And finally, a young man with a newly acquired power doesn’t use it wisely, to his own detriment.
What could have easily been a mindless and repetitive scare-fest was actually a collection of diverse and inventive tales; each visualized through the films list of guest stars.  Each story was entertaining and well-acted.  The plot framework on which the other stories were hung, however, was not as artful.  Typical of any scary movie with teenagers, the disappear, one-by-one, to meet their fate.
If you’d like to see a collection of Twilight Zone-style, spooky stories done Indian style, this would be a good film to satisfy that curiosity.

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.

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BOLLYWOOD BOX OFFICE NEWS – DECEMBER 15, 2017

Releasing today:

Monsoon Shootout (crime drama):  “As heavy rains lash Mumbai, a cop on his first assignment faces a life altering decision when he must decide to shoot or not. Each decision pits him against a system which demands a compromise of his morals and every choice has a price.

Kuldip Patwal: I Didn’t Do It! (crimedrama):  “A commoner is thrown into a jail cell on suspicion of murder of a local politician. Can he survive the State entrapment, or did he actually do it?”  TRAILER

My Friends Dulhania (romance):  “Aryan and Mahira, a young couple are merged into singularity by the ubiquity of Love. Geographical distance notwithstanding, with Aryan having settled in Mumbai and Mahira studying at a college in Delhi; their love blossoms with each passing day. Aryan having found his heart’s true calling and a soulmate in Mahira decides to propose her and permanently seal their union through the bond of marriage. Aryan reaches Delhi with great expectations and anticipation, but all his aspirations were drastically shattered when found that Mahira had unexpectedly abandoned him.”  TRAILER

Bhangover (comedy):  “The effects of Bhang last for days , without having any knowledge of what uers have done during that period. Bhang is consumed by the protagonists Ram, Nisha, Ravi, Sagar, and Sudeepa on the festival day of Holi, post which they decide to visit every house to play Holi. They also realize that once under the influence of Bhang they will be unable to drive the SUV and hence take along with them their partner in crime, Pandey their hostel warden, who happily consents unaware of the consequences he is about to face.”  TRAILER

The Window (drama):  “An artist struggles between staying true to his art and giving in to the ruthless reality of life. Lekh fights with his own demons of angst, arrogance, selfishness, and denial while not being ready to compromise with the art that he thinks cinema is.”  TRAILER

Also releasing in the Bollywood market today is the Marathi-language film “Chalu Dya Tumcha“, and American films, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi“, and “Ferdinand the Bull“.  none of today’s Bollywood movies will be shown in America, and none are expected to earn very much at the box office.  This is a batch-lull week for Bollywood, as everyone awaits the return of Salman Khan on December 22.

Previous releases:

Fukrey Returns” is the year’s 17th film to cross 50 *crore!  With Rs. 50.30 crore in its first week, it has collected the 11th highest-grossing opening week, so far, of 2017.  It has also officially doubled its 25-crore budget, so is already a hit!  It’s just 20 crore away from entering the year’s top ten list, and has just six more days to manage it.  Can its second weekend and second week-day stretch pull in another 20 crore?  Most second weeks for movies with good momentum are a 60% drop from the first week.  It would really have to meet that mark to have a chance.

* 1 crore = 10,000,000 rupees

 

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HALF GIRLFRIEND

Released May 19, 2017.  Written by Chetan Bhagat, Tushar Hiranandani, and Ishita Moitra.  Directed by Mohit Suri.  Starring Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor.
Madhav (A. Kapoor) falls in love with Riya (S. Kapoor) at college, but Riya isn’t ready to commit to him, or anyone, thanks to her parents’ bad marriage.  She agrees to be his ‘half girlfriend’, which doesn’t really mean anything at all.  After college, Riya marries, which sends Madhav back to his village.  Two years later, he runs into Riya, now divorced, but the two get reacquainted.  After some time, Riya leaves a devastating letter.  Madhav moves to New York to forget her, but there is one last chance.
This is a luke-warm love story about awkwardness and unwillingness to commit.  Seeming to understand how un-exciting their story was, the writers added a side plot about Madhav campaigning in his village to build toilets for girls, so they could also attend school.  But a socially relevant cherry on top does little to sweeten this so-so romance.  There was really no reason for any of the troubles to happen, other than that the writers wanted it to.  There was nothing but Riya’s indecision to drive this story forward, and that just isn’t enough.

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.

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BHOOMI

Released September 22, 2017.  Written by Raaj Shaandilyaa and Sandeep Singh.  Directed by Omung Kumar.  Starring Sanjay Dutt, Aditi Rao Hydari, Riddhi Sen, Puru Chibber, Veer Aryan, and Sidhant Gupta.
Widower, Arun Sachdeva (Dutt), has happily raised his daughter, Bhoomi (Hydari).  Theirs was a special father/daughter relationship, but the time soon came to say goodbye.  With great celebration, Arun was getting his daughter married to her love.  The day before the marriage, however, Bhoomi was raped by a man she rejected, and his companions.  After her groom abandoned her, the courts failed her, and society scorned her, Arun turned to revenge…with his daughter by his side.
Over the past five years in Bollywood, have there been too many rape/revenge films?  Have there been too many films highlighting the faults in the system that allow rapists to escape justice?  Perhaps, as entertainment goes.  As for the real life cause these movies promote, there can never be too many.  This one, however, was a good one.  The story is different enough to be fresh, with the girl surviving and remaining in her senses.  It’s also different in that the father actually teams up with the daughter in the revenge.  This is also a good message, as it gives the young woman the power…instead of having to sit at home, being revenged by another man.  Because the rape/revenge story is so prolific, the script was not particularly unique.  However, the scenes, dialogues, and specifics of this script were excellently written, engaging, and fresh.  The directing was also top notch.  The cinematography was creative, artful, and effective in portraying this story with impact.  The scenes where Arun and Bhoomi took their revenge from each of her attackers were masterfully crafted; with subtle meaning in the methods, as well as gripping intensity and great editing.
There were excellent performances from the entire cast.  Especially from Aditi Rao Hydari, who played Bhoomi.  In his first film since being released from prison, Sanjay Dutt delivered a skilled, intense, and sober performance as a grieving and angry father.

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.

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SIMRAN

Released September 15, 2017.  Written by Apurva Asrani and directed by Hansal Mehta.  Starring Kangana Ranaut.
This is the story of Praful (Ranaut); a 30-year old divorcee living with her parents in Atlanta and working as a housekeeper.  During a trip to Las Vegas, Praful gets a taste for gambling which lands her on the bad side of a loan shark.  With no choice other than crime, Praful tries to recover the money she owes, while at the same time trying to deal with life at home.
The story of the film was not engaging.  Praful had no character qualities that would make a viewer care about her troubles, or even sympathize with her.  It was one bad decision after another, with no one to blame but Praful, herself.  She made a mess of her life.  In other movies, when a character gets that far into trouble, they at least get some charisma and some style to entertain the viewers.  Praful wasn’t even intelligent in her activities.  She just cried and begged for the audience sympathy.  The only likable and entertaining character in the entire film was the friendly bar tender in Las Vegas.
All that being said, this movie did one thing right that many other Bollywood films get wrong.  They made sure to get good actors for the American, English-speaking roles.  All the American extra roles were well and naturally acted, with as much attention dedicated to their performances as to the lead.  Well done.
If you’re looking for a female-oriented film about a woman’s trials and troubles and how the spirit can rise above, then don’t watch “Simran”.  This movie sets the gender movement back by showing just how foolish some women can be with their lives.  It wasn’t even entertaining.

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.

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BOLLYWOOD BOX OFFICE NEWS – DECEMBER 11, 2017

Fukrey Returns” had a fantastic opening weekend!  With Rs. 32.20 *crore, it has made almost the total collections of the original film in three days alone.  It has also exceeded its own 25 crore budget, meaning it’s already turning profit and on its way to hit status.
It also collected the 12th highest-grossing opening weekend (so far) of 2017, which is no small achievement, this late in the year.  Will it be the next film to cross 50 crore?  The next four days will tell.  It has no major competition until december 22, so it should have all the opportunity to earn what it will.
There are no reports this morning on opening weekend collections for any of “FR’s” release-date mates.

We are quickly approaching the close of this tumultuous year at the Bollywood box office.  It’s had its highs and its lows.  If it weren’t for scandal, it could also have been a record-breaker.  Just one more major films to go: “Tiger Zinda Hai“, releasing December 22.

* 1 crore = 10,000,000 rupees

 

 

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BOLLYWOOD BOX OFFICE NEWS – DECEMBER 8, 2017

Releasing today:

Fukrey Returns (comedy):  “Just as Hunny, Choocha, Lali, and Zafar are reaping the fruits of their misadventures from one year back, they are pulled up by the dreaded don, Lali. She is back from prison early and wants to continue from where they left off.
This film is showing at 52 theaters across America.  Visit this link to check for a theater and showtime near you.

Game Over (thriller):  “Story of a Con Girl – Bold and Beautiful, Smart and Intelligent; but that’s not enough to play the Game of Life – Game of Gamble.”  TRAILER

Sallu Ki Shaadi (comedy):  “Zeenat and Shahnawaz were a match made in movie theatre! They met in 1989, during a screening of Salman Khan’sMaine Pyar Kiya‘.  Cupid struck swiftly and marital bliss followed. Everything was going well for the couple and their darling children Sallu and Ilmi until Shahnawaz lost his battle with cancer.  Twenty years later, the time comes for Zeenat to honour Shahnawaz’s final wish, which is to get their son, Sallu, married. The only problem? Sallu is a die-hard fan of his namesake and has resolved that he will remain a bachelor for as long as his idol does!”  TRAILER

Galti Sirf Tumhari (thriller):  “A group of friends find their college days taking a dark turn when they begin to compete for the affection of women. The plot thickens as romance soon gives way to deception and death.”  TRAILER

The Great Leader (social drama): Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan.  “In a rural village, one woman battles against all odds for her rightsd and the rights of all women“.  TRAILER

Among today’s releases, “Fukrey Returns” will undoubtedly be the front runner.  But how much will it earn?  In 2013, the original “Fukrey” earned 36.5 *crore, but it’s budget was only 16crore.  This made it a complete hit.  The budget for “Fukrey Returns” is 25 crore.  It would have to earn at least 50 crore to be as successful as the original.

Previous releases:

Kapil Sharma’s comedy, “Firangi” has collected Rs. 9.75 crore at the end of its first week.  It will fall far short of its 25 crore budget, and will be the next in 2017’s long list of flops.
Release-dat mate, “Tera Intezaar“, however, has performed even worse.  It’s barley earned 2 crore at the end of its first week.  Made on a budget od 15 crore, Sunny Leone’s newest is a complete disaster.

* 1 crore = 10,000,000 rupees

 

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BOLLYWOOD BOX OFFICE NEWS – DECEMBER 4, 2017

Kapil Sharma’s “Firangi” was the front runner among Friday’s releases.  It looks like the comedy fans outnumbered the eroticism fans to deliver Rs. 6.60 *crore in opening weekend collections.
As for the Sunny Leone fans, they only contributed Rs. 1.5 crore to the opening weekend collections for “Tera intezaar“. There are no reports this morning on opening weekend collections for release-date mate, “Viraam“.

Tumhari Sulu” did manage to pass the 30-crore mark over its third weekend!  With 3.22 crore, it was the second-highest earning bollywood film of the weekend.  With excellent momentum and longevity, this movie has now earned more than 50% of its initial 20-crore investment.  With little competition for the remainder of the week, it has a very good chance of crossing the 35 crore mark by the end of its fourth weekend.

* 1 crore = 10,000,000 rupees

 

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MIRZA JUULIET

Released April 7, 2017.  Written by Shanti Bushan and directed by Rajesh Ram Singh.  Starring Darshan Kumar and Piaa Bajpai.
This story combines elements from two legendary love stories, from two different times and two different parts of the world.  First, it borrows elements from the fifteenth century, legendary love story, “Mirza Sahiba”; written by famed Punjabi poet, Hafiz Barkhudar Ranjha.  It’s a tale in which the heroine’s three brothers violently oppose her choice of love.  After the lovers run away, Sahiba learned her bothers were coming to kill Mirza and retrieve her.  Torn between love for her bothers and love for Mirza, Sahiba broke each arrow in Mirza’s quiver.  She hoped her bothers would take pity and not fight.  It didn’t turn out that way.
The second legendary story the film borrows from is “Romeo and Juliet”.  Thus the movie’s name; “Mirza Juuliet”.  Bushan did a very good job of combining the main elements of these two tales into a solid story with a twist ending.  Having been childhood friends, Mirza (Kumar) and Juuliet (Bajpai) had been separated most of their lives.  While Mirza grew up in jail, Juuliet grew up an abrasive, spoiled brat in a family with political aspirations.  The three brothers wanted their sister married to a foul man who, nonetheless had the potential to win political office.  When Mirza returned to town, however, she got sidetracked by friendship, sex, and concerns for her future happiness.  Meanwhile, everyone was after Mirza’s neck for the part he played in the political plot, as well as the romantic story.
The story was engaging, and the characters were sympathetic.  That is, all except for Juuliet.  Many films make the mistake of having their heroes fall in love because the girl is quirky and fiery.  However, until things got serious, Juuliet was a rude, vain bully who smoked and drank.  There just wasn’t much there to love, other than her beauty.  However, the story was solid, with some great scenes and great acting from the entire cast.  The directing was great, and the cinematography was appropriately gritty.
This movie may not have had the advantage of big names or high budgets, but there were no regrets in the two hours spent watching it.  If you want to explore Bollywood’s B-side (meaning films made without A-list actors), “Mirza juuliet” would be on VBB’s recommendation list for dramatic romance.

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.

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