Movies in Blu-ray format – A collector’s anguish!

Blu-ray Disc Logo

Blu-ray Disc Logo

Being a film buff, I have a sizeable collection of DVDs (Originals). Recently my sister gifted us a Philips Blu-ray player, and I happily accepted the switch to the superior Blu-ray format. Without going into the details, let me just state that the format is rich in its Visual and Audio output. The ‘DTS True HD’ tracks available in almost all the Blu-ray discs are a treat. Slowly I have begun building my Blu-ray collection. But that is at a price and some disappointments!

Firstly, the Blu-ray discs are exorbitantly priced. An English language Blu-ray disc ranges anywhere from 900 INR – 2500 INR, and I am not talking about Box sets. Even if we take the bait and decide to buy the disc, we are in for a bigger disappointment. The editions sold in the Indian subcontinent do not have all the special features and additional ‘goodies’ usually available in the International market (at a far cheaper price!). Even the packaging is different with the Indian market rarely getting a ‘Steel book’ edition. The disc(s) are usually packed in the flimsy ‘blue’ cases. Also missing are the ‘Extra’ DVD and the ‘Digital copy’ usually found packaged in the International editions.

Buying the better editions from outside India is also not an option. Unlike the DVD format, for Blu-ray discs the region coding is enforced at the media level (in the disc) and hence no region-free tampering of the player will let you buy Blu-rays from outside India (Unless the Blu-ray player and/or the Blu-ray discs are manufactured as ‘Region-free’).

The scene is worse for regional languages’ Blu-ray market. When it comes to Indian cinema, there are hardly Blu-ray discs in the market except for the Hindi language movies. Compared to the English Language movie blu-ray discs, the Hindi movie discs are priced lower but in terms of quality they are not up to the mark. Case in point is The Blue Umbrella, which is the only Non-English Blu-ray disc that I have acquired till date. For the film which boasts of some splendid cinematography, the Blu-ray transfer is not great. The video quality was excellent by DVD standards, but for a Blu-ray it falls short. The audio was ‘DTS’ and no complaints there. I am shocked to see the near absence of Blu-ray discs of Tamil and other regional languages movies. I came across only a couple of Tamil movies – Shivaji, Soodhu Kavvum & Chandramukhi, which are available in the Blu-ray format. Some classics from these languages definitely need a Blu-ray edition, with the video and audio encoded for the higher Blu-ray standards. A normal transfer of a DVD quality to a Blu-ray media will not suffice.

I think the Blu-ray market in India has grown out of its infancy and needs to bring in a catalogue with lot of regional movies to become popular and gain a higher market share. The content providers should also make sure the video and audio transfers are done for excellent quality of entertainment. This is also a chance to collect and preserve some of the classics in the Indian regional languages. A sneak peek at the Blu-ray editions of Ben-Hur or The Ten Commandments can show how the American Studios are preserving and enhancing their classics. It would be a joy to see an equally splendid transition for our own classics like Sholay, Dalapathi, Nayagan, Agni Natchathiram, Anjali, Moondram Pirai, Iruvar, Hey Ram, Ondanondu Kaaladalli, Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Guide  and countless others in Indian Cinema.

I hope I get to watch some of these above mentioned Indian classics in a perfect 1080p transfer with superior sound at the comfort of my home!

~ by Jayanthan Ravi on August 30, 2013.

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