Right, if you're on my Facebook friends list you know that the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) has released in conjunction with Shemaroo Entertainment what they call "digitally restored" versions of some of the classics of Indian cinema in very affordable DVD editions (Priced at Rs. 199/- MRP, they are available for further discounted rates at online sites like Induna and Flipkart). From a brief skim of scenes from all the films I'd say that while these new transfers can not be declared as immaculate, nay they're far from that, they are a significant improvement over previously available editions from various companies and fans of sensible Indian films should definitely look to add these editions of their favorite classics to their movie collections.
The films released so far in this series are: Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (Kundan Shah), Party (Govind Nihalani), Mirch Masala (Ketan Mehta), Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda (Shyam Benegal) and Dharavi (Sudhir Mehta).
In an earlier blog post, I had made DVD image comparisons between the Ultra DVD and the Cinebella DVD (US origin, OOP) releases of Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda, in which the latter with all its flaws notwithstanding demolished the murky mess of the Ultra release. SKSG in this NFDC edition is much closer in visual quality to the Cinebella release (close enough that I won't make additional screenshot comparisons), and therefore a highly recommended upgrade for Indian movie buffs.
I have here screenshot comparisons for some other films in this set with previous Indian DVD releases, let's see them in sequence. The screenshots were taken using VLC player version 2.0.0, no modifications made to the image settings. Images were taken from reasonably comparable shots, but not matched to the specific frame, and saved as non-resized jpg files. Please click on the files to see them in the proper size to appreciate the comparisons better.
JAANE BHI DO YAARON
Left side NFDC - Right side (Ultra / Moser Baer)
So overall the NFDC transfer, being immensely sharper and crisper, delivers a massive kerbstomp to the Ultra release. It's not all good though - some of the color tints appear suspect with the Ultra release edging towards blue and the NFDC release veering towards yellow/green, and it doesn't always seem that one party is right. Still the benefits far outweigh the doubts and this upgrade is a no-brainer. Also NFDC is providing this film in a 2-DVD Collector's edition with a feature called "Director's Perspective" on the bonus disc, which promises to be interesting viewing.
This is another wonderful film from the 80's and has a brilliantly composed visual palette. Ideally this should have been one of the best looking DVD's in this series. Let's see now how it holds up.
Left side NFDC - Right side Eagle Home Entertainment
As you can see there are issues with the NFDC release. It's window-boxed and while the video is cleaner, it appears to have been brightened up too much, to the point where detail is obscured. But still it has significantly better color and texture and the previous release.
No need for any comparisons, the only previous release for this brilliant poetic tale of one man's struggle to realize his dreams in the big bad city was a horrible VCD from Lara Video, bleh. From what I know the film was shot on location for most sequences and is not a poster child for pretty visuals. Again, the DVD is by no means immaculate, but the best you have so far and therefore worth your while to visit this classic.