First of all, in general I don’t really like to complain (okay, that background noise is my friends laughing). But seriously. I hardly ever send anything back to the kitchen in a restaurant, for instance. I figure: they are doing their best back there, and who knows what all they have to deal with. And also, they might spit in my food (or worse). So if it’s edible and there aren’t any bugs or severed fingers in it, I won’t bitch. I might grumble a little, but that’s usually it. However, dear readers and fellow unfortunate fans of old Hindi cinema, I am really fed up.
Who is mistreating the Memsaab so? Indian DVD manufacturers, that’s who!
I recently watched an unsubtitled (as usual) VCD of Shammi’s lovely film Rail Ka Dibba, released by Friends Video. Friends presents us with this at the beginning:
Well, fRIENDS, I would feel a LOT more “co-operative” with you if you didn’t flog us with THIS eyesore on every screen (and I’m not referring to Shammi or Madhubala!):
Your transparent white one floating smack in the middle of the screen isn’t any better either! Of course this aberration is not restricted to Friends. We all have to peer around large (and often gaudy) Ultra or KMI or Eros or TNT logos.
We know you made the video, people, it says so on the cover. And lest you try and tell me that it’s to prevent pirating, I’ll tell you this for free: not only does it not prevent pirating, it encourages it. Why should we pay good money to stare at your advertising instead of the film we want to see? And if someone goes to the trouble of digitally removing your intrusive logo from a video and uploads it online, how can we be criticized if we would rather watch that version?
Dara might prefer that Shemaroo obscure his double chin:
but I don’t! And I doubt that anyone else does either!
Also, we fans know that some (okay, many) original films aren’t in the best condition. It’s sad, but it’s true, and it’s not necessarily your fault, although I DO wonder why all the people making a living from cinema don’t invest anything back into preserving it. That’s a rant for another day.
But why can’t you put even a *little bit of effort* into improving the video quality? I do it easily with my screen caps, and I’m certainly no great whiz at technology! It’s not that hard to adjust contrast and color digitally. Or to remove scratches and blotches.
You know what else? Some people do the clean-up on their own, out of sheer love for the films. Then they kindly put them up online, and we who also love the films download them! Instead of buying your crappy product!
Look at poor Laxmi Chhaya in the dismally dark Raat Aur Din with TWO logos cluttering up the screen:
Here’s the version I’d download for free and keep, without the logos and with the picture brightened up so you can actually see how Made of Awesome she is:
It’s not perfect, but it’s much better! So can you really blame me? Really?
Why is Geeta Bali GREEN? Why?
There is just NO NEED!
There’s a lot you could do with the sound, too. A LOT.
Plus, what is up with all the cropping and other editorial decisions? Heads are cut off and people disappear off the sides of the screen. The cinematographer didn’t frame the film that way, so why do you?!
Here’s a frame from Howrah Bridge. It’s a cleaned-up (not by them of course) T-Series version, with their godawful bright red logo also removed (and even they appear to have done some cropping, judging by the credits which are partially cut off):
Now compare it with the same exact frame on the so-called “Platinum” edition from Moserbaer, untouched (meaning the logo is still there and the picture is fuzzy):
Why, Moserbaer, would you chop that man’s head off? and the poor guy behind him on the right? Why???
And why for the love of God do all of you delete entire songs and scenes that are still intact in the original? It happens all the time! Songs and scenes which are even on the VCD and in versions screened on television go missing from the DVD! Why???! Find a print of the WHOLE FILM and put it on a DVD! And don’t just slap butchered VCD content onto a DVD and call it a legitimate product! It isn’t! If we don’t want to watch the entire movie, we’ll use the FF button. That’s what it’s for! Give us the whole film when you can! Geez. I can’t believe I even have to say that!!
I also know that it’s not that difficult or expensive to add subtitles. I might purchase a Shammi film without them if I have no other choice, but I would happily pay a lot more for a subtitled version! There are also many many non-Shammi films which I would buy if they had subtitles—without them, I won’t waste my money. I am not alone in this, either. There are a lot of people across the globe who love Hindi movies but don’t speak Hindi. Help us out, can’t you?! You might actually make more money too!
And subtitle the damn songs!!!!! Songs are an integral part of the STORY in Hindi films. Subtitle them! Hire someone who can do justice to the lyricists, many of whom were superb poets, and deserve so much better than this.
I would love to hear an explanation from you manufacturers as to why you only seem interested in your products being “good enough” at best. Good enough for whom? Good enough for what? Idiots who don’t deserve better and will buy whatever crap you offer them? Artists and technicians who put heart and soul into their lives’ work? Films that don’t “count” on the global stage? Do tell me: am I missing something?
It’s short-sighted and disrespectful, and it makes my heart *hurt* to see how the Totally Fabulous that is Hindi cinema history is treated. Not by others, not by an uncaring world, but by you, Indian video manufacturers.
Shame on you! And shame on you in the film industry who allow it to go on! Do you care nothing about the legacy of those who came before you?
PS: I will give you this: more of my DVDs now actually play all the way through to the end. Kudos for that. (Hopefully it’s not just a coincidence.) But—that is what’s known as being damned with faint praise. It’s not a good business model. Please: Stop editing and chopping and cropping, improve the sound and picture quality where you can, and add subtitles. I’m begging you.
PPS: Thanks to Tom for supplying me with the screencap examples I used here to illustrate my points. I salute all of you out there like him, who take the garbage these guys sell us and make it better! Pranam.