Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ultra-KLPD: Suraj ka Satvan Ghoda

No, this is not a review of the film. For my views on that, check out the piece I did on Shyam Benegal HERE. What this is, is one of the very blatant examples of how completely incompetent and/or contemptuous most Indian home video companies are with their releases. Comparing the transfers of Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda by a US based company called Cinebella and the domestic release by Ultra Home Video. These are not exact frame comparisons, just casual shots I took while playing back the movies on VLC. Cinebella shots on the left and corresponding Ultra shots on the right:

(Click on them to see in larger size for finer detail)

This is not to say that the Cinebella transfer is perfect, far from it. The source print is in no way restored and has a fair amount of damage including many instances of minor blemishes/scratches. There is an annoying moiré effect whenever any furniture, clothing or props with closely spaced lines appear. Also, in my view, the color scheme is slightly more saturated than ideal. But what Ultra achieves is utter disgrace. It's like the people there thought, "The public here any way is not going to pay more than 200 bucks for a DVD, let's show them what we think of them", and dunked the print in a gutter. The colors of the film have been completely squeezed out and detail is murky. And all of this is besides the huge fugly Ultra logo that stays with you throughout the movie.

And what's the best part of this story? Cinebella is now defunct and their DVD of Suraj Ka... is out of print (I saw this on a DVD-R copy of that release, thanks to a friend), meaning that your options for watching this masterpiece of modern Indian cinema in any respectable manner are mighty slim. Someone at NFDC needs to be roasted on a spit for this.

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