Note to DVD-buyers in Delhi who are interested in “offbeat” cinema (usually defined as anything that isn’t mainstream Bollywood or contemporary-mainstream Hollywood): there’s a much greater variety of titles available in legit stores like Musicland and Planet M than there was even a couple of months ago. The advent of distributors such as Palador and NDTV Lumiere has helped things along. Palador, in collaboration with Moser Baer, has been distributing titles by iconic directors (Kurosawa, Tarkovsky, Bergman, Kieslowski) as well as relatively less-known ones (Tsai Ming-Liang, Kihachi Okamoto), and there are a few interesting box-sets on the way. (More details on their website – their titles can be bought online too.) One thing I especially like about their DVDs is that each one includes a short film by an Indian director as an Extra. Haven’t seen any of these yet but I’m sure it’s a good value-addition and a nice way of highlighting short films that have slipped under most radars.
Meanwhile, NDTV Lumiere – which has already done a good job of enabling the improbable commercial release (in multiplexes!) of foreign-language films such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Three Monkeys – has tied up with Excel Home Videos to distribute DVDs. There’s a limited and fairly random selection available in stores right now (Louis Malle’s The Lovers, Christian Petzold’s Yella and Philippe Aractingi’s Under the Bombs among them, last I checked) but I’m sure it’ll expand with time. Simultaneously, I’m hoping the prices will reduce – the Palador and Lumiere DVDs cost between Rs 400 and Rs 500, which is still quite steep; I don’t see why original DVDs shouldn’t be routinely available in the Rs 200 price range.
Happily, shops like Musicland seem to have finally cottoned on to the concept of discounts and special offers when it comes to the more mainstream titles. While taking stock of my DVDs the other day I realised that most of my recent purchases have been from official outlets (with the trip to Palika last week being a one-off). This isn’t because I suddenly grew a conscience and decided to cut down on the pirated stuff – it’s because these shops are finally offering the sorts of discounts that you get around the year in London’s HMV stores. It’s now common to see shelf labels that say “Buy 2 DVDs, get one free” and other such nice things. Hope that continues. Movie buffs shouldn’t have to keep descending into underground caverns for their monthly fix.