Old Hindi DVDs to disappear from the shelves

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During a year when Indian Cinema is celebrating 100 years since the first moving picture was made, it is unfortunate that we have to report recent news regarding DVDs of old Hindi films. According to a leading Indian newspaper, a number of distributors have decided not to renew licences which permit them to sell films which released during the golden era of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Keta Maru, who is producer of Shemaroo Movies, explained to the Indian press why DVDs of old Hindi films are not being renewed. “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.”

In contrast, Dinesh Shah, owner of Girish Electronics, mentioned the following about this particular case. “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.”

In addition, a film producer talked about how unfortunate it is that the younger generation have not shown much appreciation towards the classics. It is due to this that distributors do not want to renew their licences to sell old Hindi DVDs. “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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