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    Sep 2011


    Default DVDs of old Hindi movies may soon disappear from the shelves

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    With distributors not renewing licenses, DVDs of old Hindi movies may soon disappear from the shelves

    At a time when we are commemorating 100 years of Indian cinema, it's ironical that DVDs of old classics like Patita, Asli Naqli and Teesri Manzil are on their way out of stores and libraries.
    The reason is distributors are unwilling to renew the licenses of these films (five to seven years) with the DVD rights' holders.

    According to Ketan Maru, producer, Shemaroo Movies, buyer of audio and video rights of films: "Stores are not ready to stock, or display old DVDs as their sales have gone down dramatically. Producers expect the same amount we paid them earlier, and are not willing to consider the fact that online availability of films has led to DVD sales heading south. Hence, we haven't renewed a majority of the contracts. Regrettably, most movies will not be available in their physical form but that's something we cannot help as business is suffering."

    On the bright side, catalogues of films by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Romu Sippy and Raj Kapoor may be renewed but "It depends on our perception of the demand for these movies," says Maru, adding: "Piracy is killing the market, and the government is doing nothing about it. We pay excise duty, sales tax and income tax, and yet, nothing is done to help our plight."

    However, Dinesh Shah, Owner of Girish Electronics, a Prabhadevibased DVD store, says: "Not everybody has a taste for these classics. Those who appreciate them are the kind who would want to own a physical copy and not watch them online. To an extent, distributors have killed the market for these films by putting them online and trying to sell them. It is sad the licenses of some of the best movies, which were huge hits of their time, are not being renewed."

    Although, Shah is quick to point out that some films have been lucky to get a new lease of life. He cites the examples of Gharonda and Caravan that had disappeared for five years but appeared later, courtesy someone who renewed their licenses.

    The son of a well-known producer - a producer himself, expresses sadness over the younger generation's apathy toward preserving older cinema. "It is alarming they won't be able to enjoy films by stalwarts like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and V Shantaram. In every other country, they do so much to preserve classics. Just the other day I heard that in the US, they are restoring a 1935 film titled Make Way for Tomorrow. Why aren't such things done here?" he rues. According to Maru, there is only one solution and that is: "The Government has to wake up to this issue and promptly do something about it."



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