With the only Hindi release this week — Vishal Mishra’s “Coffee With D” opting out due to “pressure and unforeseen circumstance” (as Mishra says), this is a unique all-Hollywood week at the Indian box office, with A-list actors like Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Neeson lending glamour and hopefully heft to a “Dangal”-obsessed nation.
Sunil Grover starrer “Coffee With D” was scheduled to be the first release of the year, but it has been postponed after its makers claimed getting death threats since the film has humour in reference to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
“From the time of the release of the trailer, it hasn’t been quite easy. We are being hopeful and taking each day as it comes. As of now, the release has been postponed,” the makers said in a statement.
Now all eyes are on the Hollywood releases.
Neeson, who is currently being seen in Martin Scorcese’s disturbing thrust at theology in “Silence”, plays a friendly monster in J.A. Bayona’s “A Monster Calls”. His character befriends a troubled child. While the film has Neeson in a rousing performance, we all know what happened to Steven Spielberg’s ambitious film about the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and his little friend. Meant to be large-screen adaptations of children’s novels BFG and “A Monster Calls” are too scary for tender minds.
“Allied” is perhaps the poshest product of the pack. A moody, bluesy World War II romantic thriller with a very attractive lead pair Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, directed by the distinguished Robert Zemeckis. The film’s premium comportment is not likely to impress Indian audiences who flock for Hollywood films only when it is a comic-book franchise.
“Allied” comes to India with the tabloid gossip about the lead in a torried affair that broke Brad’s marriage with Angelina Jolie, and an added disadvantage of stinker reviews. The Guardian critic has described it as Brad Pitt’s “flattest performance” since Troy.
The fact that Pitt and Cotillard were pitted against one another in the gossip columns won’t impress Indian audiences.
Jennifer Lawrence, considered one of the three biggest contemporary female stars in the world, teams up with Chris Patt in the posh but bland “Passengers” about two people who fall in love in outerspace. Norwegian director Morten Tyldum helms this sci-fi romance which has underperformed at the international box office.
A better bet could be the sleeper horror film “Friend Request”, directed by Paul Verhoeven, since cheesy horror is the only genre in the English language that sells apart from the VFX-driven fanchises. The film’s Indian distributor Sunil Udhani, who last year brought the sleeper hits “Arrival”, “Desierto” and “Hands Of Stone” to us grateful Indians, is giving the film a low-profile release. This is just as well since the Indian box office is still gripped by the “Dangal” fever.
May the best win.
By Subhash K. Jha