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Feb 242014
 



Bollywood film Highway, director Imtiaz Ali’s lift of the two-decade old Hollywood movie The Chase, has fared poorly at the U.S. box office.

For the opening February 21-23, 2014 weekend, Highway could manage a gross of only $286,495.

Highway’s opening weekend performance is pathetic for a Bollywood director of Imtiaz Ali’s stature.

Highway is Imtiaz Ali’s fifth film as director (his earlier films include Socha Na Tha, 2005; Jab We Met, 2007; Love Aaj Kal, 2009; and Rockstar, 2011).

Ali’s last film Rockstar grossed more than double the Highway numbers (Rockstar opening weekend: $612,235) at the U.S. box office.

To Imtiaz’ mortification, Highway has done worse than even the recent Hindi film Hasee Toh Phasee from debutant director Vinil Mathew.

Here’s how Highway fared at the U.S. box office for the opening weekend compared to a few prominent Bollywood films:

Highway U.S. Box Office Report

Related Highway Stories:
Highway – Highway Robbery of The Chase
Highway Review – Delightful Bollywood Aberration
Feb 232014
 

(Thanks to SI Blog reader rvasam who first alerted me to the lift)

Let’s get to the big question right away.

Is Bollywood film Highway a lift of the 1994 Hollywood movie The Chase?

The short answer – Yes, to a significant, unignorable, inexcusable, unpardonable degree.

There are far too many similarities between Highway and The Chase to be dismissed as mere coincidence.

Highway Robbery

Imtiaz Ali claims to have “written and directed” the Bollywood film Highway.

I will throw a sop to the Bollywood Cerberus and concede that Highway is directed by Imtiaz Ali.

But “written” by Imtiaz Ali?

Now, that’s a delusion so bizarre it can only be matched by yours truly claiming to be Alexander the Great!

Don’t make me laugh, kiddo.

Highway director Imtiaz Ali is a shameless thief and Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda are his two accomplices in crime.

In retrospect, I should have been more Argus-eyed with Imtiaz Ali.

Remember how the hit song Yeh Ishq Hai in his 2007 film Jab We Met was stolen from Anggun’s Etre Une Femme.

Imtiaz Ali is like a car thief who after purloining a two-decade-old jalopy paints it in a different color, changes the license plates, rolls back the odometer, sprays some car freshener and peddles it as new.

In short, Imtiaz Ali has stolen the plot of The Chase and Indianized it as Highway.

Also, keep in mind that Highway producer Sajid Nadiadwala is a big-time criminal who stole the plot of the French film Trois hommes et un couffin (Hollywood version: Three Men and a Baby) and regurgitated it as Heyy Babyy (Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan).

Highway – My Anguish

Rarely do I like a Bollywood movie.

Most Indian movies are unwatchable trash made by talentless scumbags for the viewing pleasure of degenerate philistines.

So when a SI blog reader mentioned last night that the new Bollywood movie Highway, one that I greatly loved, was lifted from the Hollywood film The Chase I found myself in deep anguish. Almost, in extremis!

Oh, not again, I told myself! :(

I wanted to find out if Highway was one more instance of Bollywood dickheads overcoming their poverty of imagination by stealthily stooping to deep-throat Hollywood.

And I decided the best way to determine if Highway is the nullius filius of The Chase was to see it for myself rather than rely on hearsay.

A short while ago, I completed watching The Chase and here’s my considered verdict.

Too Many Similarities – No Coincidence

Here are a whole bunch of damning similarities between Highway (2014) and the two-decade old Hollywood film The Chase (1994):

1. In both films, the basic backdrop, against which all other events happen, is the kidnapping of a young girl.

2. In both films, the kidnapping happens without intent, meaning that the crime is not planned.

3. In both films, the kidnapping happens as a result of another crime (in Highway while Mahabir is fleeing after attacking a gas-station and in The Chase when Jackson Hammond, a prison escapee, panics after the police question him about the car he’s stolen).

4. In both films, the kidnapping happens at a gas station.

5. In both films, the kidnapper is unaware he is snatching a girl from an extremely wealthy family.

6. In both films, the kidnapping is believed by outsiders to have been done for ransom though money is not the original intent. Continue reading »

Feb 222014
 

Highway – Highway Robbery of The Chase

I steered on to the Highway (Alia Bhatt, Randeep Hooda) with much trepidation this evening.

This Alia Bhatt creature (heroine of Highway) was completely alien to me.

And given my utter contempt for supremely untalented Indian ‘star children’ (Abhishek Bachchan, Zayed Khan, Fardeen Khan, Tusshar Kapoor, Salman Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha etc), I had abysmal expectations from Alia Bhatt (daughter of Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt and actress Sonia Razdan).

Boy, did Alia surprise me and prove my fears to be entirely unfounded.

Alia and her new film Highway turned out to be one of those rare Indian movie aberrations – a talented young actress headlining a pleasing Bollywood film.

I had to pinch myself repeatedly throughout the film to assure myself I was not dreaming!

Highway (directed by Imtiaz Ali) already seems to be benefiting from positive word of mouth.

At a theatre on the East Coast, the hall was over 60% full for the evening show Friday!

Long Road – Many Changes

Veera Tripathy (Alia Bhatt), daughter of a wealthy businessman, is scheduled to get married to a rich boy in a few days.

But with the hectic wedding preparations, countless guests, and endless rituals, the young girl finds the atmosphere at home suffocating.

As a respite, Veera quietly skips out of the house for a late night drive with her fiancee.

Minutes into the drive, they stumble into a gas station hold-up by a criminal gang led by Mahabir Bhatti (Randeep Hooda).

While fleeing, the criminals kidnap Veera without realizing she’s the daughter of a billionaire whose enormous wealth and connections to top police officers and politicians could doom them.

With the kidnapping, the movie goes into top gear taking us on a lengthy road trip in a dilapidated truck that ends in the snowy peaks of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir.

The photography on the long road trip that transports the two main characters from the plains to the desert, salt flats, verdant fields and finally into the snowy mountains is an eye-pleaser, again a rara avis in Hindi films.

It’s not merely the topography that changes along the long road trip.

Director Imtiaz Ali uses the lengthy trip to showcase how the two main characters change along the trip.

Veera at the beginning of the road trip is an agitated, scared girl and her kidnapper Mahabir is a violent ruffian who wouldn’t think twice before slapping her, trussing her up and forcefully dragging her along into the hinterlands in a rickety truck in hopes of a rich ransom.

But by the end of the journey, both Veera and Mahabir are a far cry from their earlier selves. More so, after Veera discloses to Mahabir some of the unspeakable horrors of her childhood .

What happens between the two on the long road trip?

That they get close is a certainty. But how so?

Stockholm Syndrome? Love? Affection? Friendship?

Take your pick! ;)

A.R.Rehman’s music (particularly Patakha Guddi) compounds the charm.

Fine Acting

On the acting front, I found the movie a joy.

With Highway, 21-year-old Alia Bhatt has arrived as an actress on the Bollywood stage.

Carrying the film on her svelte shoulders, Alia makes chutney of the gaggle of Bollywood witches Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha whose sole raison d’être is to torment us at frequent intervals.

Randeep Hooda doesn’t say much in the film.

But the man is a master of expressions and says so much even when he speaks so little.

What a shame we don’t see him more often on the big screen.

The last 25-minutes of the film brings out the best in both Alia and Randeep. Great pair, solid chemistry!

Besides the two main actors, the lesser characters played by Durgesh Kumar, Pradeep Nagar and Saharsh Kumar Shukla also shine.

Absolute Delight

Right from the beginning, we know there won’t be a happy ending and the two prime characters themselves openly discuss that nothing but ruin awaits them around the corner.

The Bollywood road is invariably dotted with countless potholes and for once it was a treat for us to experience a smooth drive on a road less taken.

To my immense delight, I did not find a single gauche moment in Highway!

SearchIndia.com is mighty pleased to recommend Highway to all lovers of good cinema.

Highway is playing in theaters across America.

Related Highway Posts:
Highway – Highway Robbery of The Chase
Feb 142014
 

If mislabeling was a criminal offense in Bollywood, Gunday producer Aditya Chopra’s sorry ass would be scraping jail floors right now for cheating the public en masse.

I’ve seen many Chutiyas in Bollywood but none so brazen as Aditya Chopra (the non-steroid biceps, less retarded offspring of the late jalebiwallah Yash Chopra who strayed into Bollywood) for his effrontery in flogging trashy love as daring crime.

False Labeling

Notwithstanding an attention-grabbing title that suggests a daredevil saga of tough gangsters, endless blood and ceaseless violence, Gunday (Outlaws/Thugs/Goons) is in reality a lengthy, silly, tiresome, effete love story.

Its title notwithstanding, Gunday is not a tale of dreaded Mafia dons instilling panic in enemies or fear among the masses for their bloody crimes.

Truth be said, the two gundays (goons) seemed to spend more time either plotting against or fighting with each other.

Refugees from Bangladesh, the two gundays Bala and Bikram behave like two wayward high school punks overdosing on local hooch than two big time gangsters who are supposedly the crime lords of Calcutta.

No crime lord ever behaved in as moronic a manner as Bala and Bikram do in this fatuous love story.

Not for one moment are Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor convincing as crime lords of Calcutta.

Thank God, the real Indian gangsters like Varadaraja Mudaliar, Haji Mastan, Yusuf Patel and Karim Lala are either dead or in the case of Dawood bhai and Tiger Memon holed up in Pakistan! Otherwise, they’d have laughed themselves silly at this Gunday spectacle!

Crime is merely the cover, the fig leaf for a hopeless love story bereft of any charm in this piece of garbage. Continue reading »

Jan 272014
 

Inshallah, Jai Ho will be the beginning of the end for Salman Khan.

One of the silliest Bollywood movies in recent times, Jai Ho opened to a lukewarm response in the U.S.

Part of the reason could be the lousy weather in the Northeast but I think a more likely reason is that desis in the U.S. are getting sick of the garbage Salman Khan shovels at them with monotonous frequency.

For the opening January 24-26, 2014 weekend in the U.S., Jai Ho grossed $840,506 from 195 screens.

Average gross per screen for Jai Ho was $4,310, the lowest after Veer (2010).

Here’s how Jai Ho fared at the U.S. box office compared to a few prominent Bollywood films:

Jai Ho U.S. Box Office Report

Jai Ho’s miserable performance at the U.S. box office is the lowest for a Salman Khan movie in recent years! :)

One can only pray that this trend continues and heralds the long overdue end of Salman Khan’s reign in Bollywood.

Salman Khan Movies U.S. Box Office Report

Related Jai Ho Stories:
Jail Ho Review – Intolerable Garbage
Jan 242014
 

Only in that godforsaken shit-hole a.k.a. India does a real-life murderer, Salman Khan, don the garb of a good Samaritan on the screen (Jai Ho), flex his muscles, feign concern for the weak, and earn endless plaudits from all sections of society.

In my lexicon, what Bollywood low-life Salman Khan does on the screen ad nauseum in films like Jai Ho is a dirty trick of the highest order, albeit one that works very well with tasteless, classless, senseless Indian movie fans.

If you ask me, Jai Ho is an intolerable piece of trash, and nothing but Salman Khan’s desperate attempt to whitewash his beastly reputation as a murderer and thug.

Jai Ho – Garbage

Produced and directed by Sohail Khan, a halfwit whose sole claim to fame is that it happens to be Salman Khan’s younger sibling, Jai Ho is a pathetic, tawdry spectacle based loosely on the Hollywood film Pay It Forward (2000, Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt).

Salman Khan plays Jai Agnihotri, an ex-army guy whose raison d’etre is to go around beating people, helping people and exhorting people to assist three others.

The helping and exhorting is what the little boy Trevor does well in Pay It Forward.

Whether it’s Trevor in Pay It Forward or Salman in Jai Ho, the goal is to set in motion a human-chain of kindness  toward needy souls who can’t help themselves and make the world a better place.

The villain in Jai Ho is the typical Bollywood caricature of a crooked, arrogant, thuggish politician, who comes here in the shape of the Home Minister Dashrat Singh (Danny Denzongpa).

As I wrote the other day, Pay It Forward was a mediocre Hollywood film but redeemed by superb acting by the troika of Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt.

Au contraire, Jai Ho doesn’t possess a single refreshing or redeeming element.

The acting is horribly sub-par, the story is hopelessly silly, the stunt scenes laughable, the romance unbearable, the music easily forgettable and the overall effect extremely depressing on tender souls like yours truly.

Salman Khan exhibits a detached attitude to his role, almost as if he’s watching someone else play the character of Jai Agnihotri.

Weird!? Yes, but then the bizarre has always been an inalienable part of this weirdo’s psychological makeup.

I suppose at some level even Salman Khan finds the notion of playing a do-gooder totally alien to his true self. ;) Continue reading »