Monday, September 22, 2008

More on DVDs: Palador, Lumiere

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.


  1. Dear jai, thanks for the info on Musicland - will visit asap. I hav been dyin to ask u this - wher is 'that' shop in palika?? I spent two hours last saturday, searching evry nook n corner, b4 i had this conversation with a helpful shop assistant:

    SA:Kya boss DVDs chahiye kya?

    Me:Ha, purane English classics - woh pirated dvds ke shops sare kidhar gaye?

    SA:Agar pirated khoj rahe hai,to aapne time waste kiya ab tak - seedha ghar chale jaiye. do mahine se police ki itni karki hai, ki koi pirated bechta hi nahi aajkal. jeb me paisa hai to shop no. 11 me chale jaiye - unka original collection kaafi acchha hai.


  2. Three Monkeys is releasing in multiplexes??? Wow. Crap, now I wish I was in Delhi. I have heard wonderful things about the movie - unfortunately it wasn't yet out on DVD when I was in Istanbul last month. Any chance you plan to catch it and put up a review?

  3. The Palador DVD's have fucked-up subtitles. Plus, press them a little and they'll bring out their prices by half.

    They were selling their Kurosawa 5 DVD box sets for 1000 bucks while hosting a Bergman film festival here in Chennai. But I didn't buy them because of the subtitles.

  4. Sudipto: the shop is the Electronic Zone, number 34 - have written about it a few times before (here, for example). It's quite easy to find, but I think there was a raid or something recently, so they're being extra careful. When I went last week, they showed me DVDs (out of sight, in the attic) only because I was an old familiar.

    Szerelem: I saw it at Cinefan a few months ago. Good enough but I didn't think it was great or anything - at any rate it didn't stir me enough to make me want to write about it. I liked Ceylan's Uzak better.

    Vaibhav: yes, I had a feeling the quality of subtitles might be an issue.

  5. Yup, Palador is doing a good job, though I haven't bought any of their titles (firstly bcoz I've almost all of them in my collection and Secondly, I'm still loyally adhering to the Copy-Left movement :P). But I'm pretty thrilled to see Bergman and Wong-kar-Wai movies in places like Planet M and Music World. Looking forward to see more from them.

  6. Hey man, Rohit here. Its nice to see that someone pointed this fact out, as these DVDs have been available for some time now. I even purchased afew of them. I would like to take your opinion on the movie "In the Mood for Love" by Wong Kar Wai, as I cannot decide whether I should watch it or not.

  7. hi ppl,

    is ok to buy CDs ,are there subtitles ok and what about the rate they are selling at ,i think its 2000 for each classic section
    i am newbie to world cinema and want to buy but judging by comments ,u ppl seem to exp at these things,i cant find any shop or place in hyderabad where i can watch these movies ,so it ll be really gr8 if u can guide if buying online from india plaza is ok or anyother site is also there ,

  8. @Rohit: It may be an intrusion, but I'd strongly recommend you to watch "In the Mood for Love". It is one of my all-time favourite. Wong creates magic in collaboration with his uncannily talented cameraman Christopher Doyle. It is just a magical experience, breaking the confines of time and space. Also, the background score is pure bliss.

  9. @Rohit , If possible,watch both 2048
    and In the mood for love.
    Jai, a personal question if you dont mind.How does your better half cope with your movie choices?My girl-friend,for some reason,gets turned off by B\W movies.For instance, she didn't see anything special in Bicycle Thieves.Now,I love that movie,but I found it hard to explain to her what I found special in it.

  10. Rohit: I'd add my voice to Souva's recommendation. Also, if you're new to Wong Kar-Wai, In the Mood for Love is a good starting point - it's one of his most accessible films. As Souva said, the cinematography and score are especially lovely.

    Rahul: CDs?!! You do mean DVDs, don't you? Please tell me you don't buy VCDs. They are Evil.

    Don't know about (I've never bought films online yet), but subtitling does tend to be poor for many of the foreign-language film DVDs available in India. As in, you can still understand the film but some of the nuances are lost and the awkwardness of the subtitles can be distracting.

  11. S: I know, that can be a problem but luckily for me Abhilasha is very open-minded about what she's willing to watch and she tends to sink into the world of a film quite fast. No problems with b&w films (I'd find it hard to stay married to someone who did!) but she doesn't care much for stuff that's too dark or gory.

    Small divergences in tastes don't matter anyway, because a lot of my DVD-watching is still done alone (and during "work hours").

  12. Though the prices seems to be a little on higher side but we should also acknowledge the fact that all these titles weren't available (i am not referring to pirated version) in India. These classic movie titles should not be compared any ways to the bollywood movies and be bought for the love of cinema..

  13. Palador's catalogue looks wonderfully eclectic. I hope more distributors and labels join in too.

    More privileged film buffs routinely complain about how these DVD companies bungle aspect-ratios and "brighten up" the frame or scrub it clean when the original was anything but bright and clean but in India whatever we can get is good for a start! I agree, inaccurate subtitles are a hindrance and annoyance but not that hard to get over with.

    i also agree with Googly's comment above. I can't believe people paying Rs 200+ for Bollywood movies and then bitching afterwards or at best saying it was "paisa wasool"...these arbitrary ticket prices in multiplexes are scandalous!

  14. Googly: I happen to think many of "the Bollywood movies" (whatever that vast generalisation means) can also be bought for love of cinema. But I agree with Alok's point: most people who routinely go to multiplexes simply take those ridiculous ticket prices for granted.

  15. The Zone still allows regulars to climb upstairs, but has anyone found that they've been mixing in a lot of the cheapo "photoshopped-cut-and-paste-cover" with their stock? And asking for 150! Ah well, given the drought of DVDs in other shops, we're not left with much choice.

    Nice to see Jarmusch's Dead Man image there - one of my favourites, especially the score.
    "Are you William Blake?"
    "Yes - do you know my poetry?"

    Anyway, bad subtitles are more than slightly distracting, they ruin the entire experience. I hate dubbed versions, and need to rely on good subtitles to help me approximate the beauty that native-language viewers get.

    And I agree about In the Mood for Love but My Blueberry Nights was simply atrocious. I couldn't believe it was Wong Kar Wai, and kept waiting for it to get better - it didn't. I would reccomend Fallen Angels and Cheungking Express, but please avoid Blueberry at all costs, never mind the cinematography and Natalie Portman...