Shyam Benegal on DVD

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franco
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Shyam Benegal on DVD

#1 Post by franco » Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:07 am

At last, here's my sincere gesture to put an end to my monkeying aroung in Kekid's thread on Bengali filmmakers. Partly inspired by my regained faith in Shemaroo as a trustworthy DVD company, this thread aims either to indulge myself in posting screenshots of beautiful women or to raise our interest in one of the best filmmakers in Hindi art cinema.

Shyam Benegal is, according to John Hood, "one of India's best-known exponents of narrative realism." For me, Benegal will always be the man responsible for my favorite Hindi film, Ankur (that is, before I see Uski Roti or Khandahar). He is, for the lack of a better comparison, less "experimental" than early Satyajit Ray, although Benegal has evidently adopted the best elements from Ray's Apu Trilogy. Great attention is given to visual precision and narrative economy. Equally remarkable is the naturalistic acting, free from any kind of contrived emotion. The music at its best complements the mood without manipulating it. Please note that I am speaking from the perspective of having only seen the unanimously good ones - namely Ankur, Nishant, Bhumika and Mammo. (Contrary to John Hood's comments, I don't find the last thrid of Bhumika tedious at all)

During my process of exploration I have discovered several labels: Sky, Eros, Shemaroo, and Video Sound (as well as Yash Raj, although I have yet to open my Zubeidaa). Sky and Eros are hit-and-miss, although they seem faithful to their source print quality. There is quite a bit of overlap between Video Sound and Shemaroo titles, hence this comparison. Shemaroo almost guarantees digitally-remastered picture, although the label finds its major weakness in subtitles. Compared to Video Sound, Shemaroo runs a higher frequency of missing sentences, either out of sloppiness or out of good intention - for those that are derogatory (as in the case of Mandi). Shemaroo is based in Mumbai, while Video Sound comes from Edison, NJ. Shemaroo is more difficult to find online. Video Sound is more likely to get pirated. Nehaflix offers many Video Sound discs at affordable and agreable prices. For Shemaroo, however, one might need to go to the local Indian DVD stores. Nevertheless, the images speak for themselves. Here are some screen captures of Bhumika, Video Sound on top, Shemaroo on the bottom:

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Last edited by franco on Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

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franco
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#2 Post by franco » Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:16 am

The Video Sound disc for Ankur is less disastrous. The only issue is still that same weird blue tint. The subtitles, on the other hand, are quite strong. Video Sound is also better at chapter-splicing, if we really want to find more advantages.

Again, Video Sound on top, Shemaroo at the bottom:

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Matt
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#3 Post by Matt » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:00 pm

Anyone know where I can find a DVD of Shyam Benegal's Samar? I haven't seen it available anywhere, but I'm trying to find it for someone who insists that his "friends in India have seen it on DVD." Oberlin College's library has a copy, but they don't know where it came from.

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jsteffe
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#4 Post by jsteffe » Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:07 pm

Beware of Video Sound--almost every disc I have purchased from them has turned out defective, including copies I purchased from Nehaflix. I purchased multiple titles, and from multiple outlets. Their ANKUR kept freezing up on multiple players, though what little of it would play looked OK. Where do you get the Shemaroo version of ANKUR?

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#5 Post by kekid » Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:52 pm

None of the Shyam Benegal films is presented well on DVD. In my opinion this is a clear choice for an Eclipse set (with Ankur or Nishant given full Criterion treatment).

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franco
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#6 Post by franco » Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:00 pm

With the huge Punjabi community in and around Vancouver, there is a video store owned by someone with reasonable taste in cinema. I purchased all my Shemaroo discs from his store, and I will go and see whether Samar is released by the label (as the movie looks fairly recent). It is possible that there are many other labels in India that don't sell their discs online.

Sorry to hear about your Video Sound discs, jsteffe. I guess I just got lucky with mine. There should be some Indian DVD stores in Atlanta, no?

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jsteffe
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#7 Post by jsteffe » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:35 pm

franco wrote:Sorry to hear about your Video Sound discs, jsteffe. I guess I just got lucky with mine. There should be some Indian DVD stores in Atlanta, no?
Atlanta has quite a large Indian community. There is a HUGE, elaborately carved Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple in the suburbs, lots of Indian grocery and video stores, and great selection of South Indian restaurants in addition to the usual fare. There are also theaters that regularly show new Indian films, often with subtitles.

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