Monday, April 14, 2008

"Directed by Jewels Dashing"

One of the many benefits of buying pirated DVDs from Palika Bazaar is getting to read the typos on the (hurriedly printed) cover jackets. Just noticed the following sentences on my DVD of Jules Dassin’s excellent film noir Night and the City:

“Dull-layered DVD, region 9"


English subtitles for the dead and hearing-impaired

Excerpts from a 1672 French interview with Dassin

Full-length audio cemetery by film schooler Glenn Erickson”

(Actually, come to think of it, if the director was around in 1672, it makes sense to have an audio cemetery and subtitles for the dead.)


  1. All this on just one DVD?! What an embarrassment of riches.

    Btw, we all failed to note the man's passing. His *He Who Must Die* is one of my favourites (and I was glad to note that it was one of his as well). And Sriram Raghavan should post - a dedicated post; not just a list of influences - somewhere about his deep connection with *Rififi*.

  2. Haha ;) I used to haunt a few shops in Bangalore for the same "world cinema " titles too ;).Only it used to be cheaper (just 120 bucks and for frequent buyers ..100 ;) ) and the case was always free.After a few visits, he stopped asking me what I wanted to see and would remove this really grummy bag from under the counter which was his "World Cinema " treasure trove . Too bad he had to close down after some dumb raids on his shop . This in a city which sells pirated DVDs on its streets ..pah ..thank god for the internet I say :)

  3. Wow..Great blog man..I liked your review of Pushpak..Too Good..Blogrolling you..Hope you don't mind :-)

  4. Space Bar: he died just a couple of weeks ago? Wow, I had no idea.

    Bala: the cases come free at the Palika shop too. The other thing I like is that in 90 per cent of the DVDs the special features are intact (this isn't always the case with amateurishly copied prints where the pirates assume that buyers will only be interested in the film, not the extras).

  5. Karthik: thanks. And why would I mind being blogrolled?

  6. Used to read your blog on and off and then it turned into a bookmark :-). Its always a pleasure to read your column. I live in Sydney so it kind of brings des and the lit scene alive for me (in a non-rediff way!) - downside being it makes me homesick.

    I envy you those DVDs - not just the blurbs but the cost (a Bergman sells for a cool $30+ here and he is no need of royalties.....)

  7. Aah , that is good. Over here,in most cases...the special features wouldn't work or the menu's wouldn't work :) Perhaps I should make a visit to Delhi .Forget the red fort ..Qutub Minar rounds..I shall visit Pallika Bazaar :)

  8. This movie was wow,but I always remember Widmark for his Tommy Udo character in Kiss of Death.
    By the long do these dvds last?Do they wear out soon,or are of good quality?

  9. @Anu, Have you tried Amazon? I bet if you order like 10,your price would come down to 20 per at least;and the shipping would be waived.
    I am assuming USD approximately equal to AUD.

  10. Thanks Rahul. I did try Amazon and not all of them ship to Aus. And the world cinema kind of DVDs remain expensive on Amazon(unless you score a pirated one of course!).

  11. That person who copies cover pages off the original DVDs is just one more bored person being creative at their job. And Goodness bless them for that! :D

    @Rahul, @Anu: Amazon usually doesnt have the regional coding for Australia. But why not hire the DVDs? I usually find many of the titles I am looking for in the DVD hire shops. And as far as I know copying a DVD for personal use is legal in Oz too!

  12. how long do these dvds last?

    Rahul: good question, and one I can't answer at this point because I haven't really watched any of these discs more than twice. The prints are excellent ("original copies", they're called in Palika), so I'm hoping they last.

    Yes, Widmark rules - Kiss of Death was one of his showiest roles, but very underrated actor generally.

    Anu: thanks. $30 is killing, but if it's any consolation I have also picked up loads of legit DVDs from London - films that I was almost sure wouldn't be available in Delhi. Many of those were available on discount though, e.g. 3 DVDs for 20 pounds.

  13. Amazon usually doesnt have the regional coding for Australia.

    Neha: you mean it isn't possible in Australia to get DVD players de-coded/de-regionalised? That's the first thing I had to get done with every player I bought - at least 50 per cent of my discs are from the UK and wouldn't play on the default settings of the Indian players.

    Personally I'm not a great one for hiring DVDs (am talking here mostly about films I've already seen and want to keep with me).

  14. Space Bar, Rahul: just remembered that Richard Widmark also died last month - a week before Dassin.

  15. Neha its sad but true - I work as an IP lawyer! So I don't copy hired movies. If its an arthouse film I want to own, I try and get a legal copy (and generally if its a movie I like its better to have a legal copy-the quality of pirated ones varies). Given the cost this is infrequent. I don't mind pirated copies of blockbusters though - I reckon they have made their pile anyway!

    Of late, I have been experimenting with film society membership - yes, you can't watch a film you like endless times but there is something really wonderful about watching a movie at a centre with people genuinely interested in film. So far its been great. In fact I can't get myself to the multiplex anymore and its also taken a bit of fun out of the watching DVD at home experience. Only drawback is you can't choose your movies of course....

  16. Well I don't think the quality of pirated DVDs is such a concern in India because even the legit ones you buy from Shemaroo/Rhythm House, etc frequently don't work. But I can't believe you tech-savvy people don't just download BitTorrent films. If you have a fast connection you can just leave your computer on overnight to download and it takes one or two nights per film, excellent quality. Try

    The best pirated DVD subtitles I ever saw were for The Sopranos, DVDs bought in Iraq and hardcoded English subtitles (yes, English!) that had clearly been retranslated back from Chinese, with the original Chinese characters popping up occasionally, to hilarious effect. The names were translated to things like "she of the plum" - good comic relief when the bhais were carrying out a bloody hit.

  17. You are one of the very few people I know (of) who has watched Sai Paranjpe's "Katha". And a very nice review too. I wish I could find the dvd somewhere...

  18. the last comment was by me. Dont know why I remained anonymous..

  19. Sid: where are you based? If in India, it shouldn't be a problem to get hold of the Katha DVD.

    SP: I'm not very tech-savvy, I don't have a fast connection, my laptop is old and groans if kept on for four hours at a stretch, and I don't have that kind of space on the hard-drive either. Plus I assume you'd need to watch these films on the computer itself? I hate doing that. Unless you can download them and then burn them on DVDs. But even so, nothing doing until I get a better laptop.

  20. Yeah, those BitTorrent files do use up a lot of processor resources and memory, so best not done on old/slow computers. But you don't need to watch the film on the computer, you can get a special cord that connects the computer to your TV screen to watch in on the TV, or burn it on a DVD (takes an hour or two). The quality is perfect, though, and that's what's nice (plus you don't have to worry about stupid regional codes).

  21. Jabberwock,Have you tried this?
    In US,NetFlix is very popular.
    Anu and Neha can take a look at this

  22. Hey Anu,

    Just so that we dont end up making Jai's comment box into a messenger; would you care to drop an email NehaHere . At. rediffmail . com?

    If it doesnt appear too intrusive, I visit Sydney on and off and it might be fun to catch up for a cup of coffee?

    @Rahul: Thanks for that. :)

  23. @Jai: you mean it isn't possible in Australia to get DVD players de-coded/de-regionalised

    I dont know, but now that you mentioned it, it might be worth the while to actually ask someone about it.
    I have an cinema hall which more often plays independent cinema close to where I work; and I quite like strolling into a DVD hire store and picking up 5 DVDs (part of a deal) quite at random. At 5 movies, I can afford to take chances! I even find Hindi cinema there sometimes, which is usually pleasant.