By Rehan Mudannayake
Pirated DVD stores are ubiquitous in Colombo, many housing vast quantities of contemporary Hollywood fare (your run of the mill live-action/animated blockbusters, mixed in with the odd indie flick) and the latest Bollywood offerings. However, if one is more irritated than amused by the selection i.e. the gratuitous number of plotless American sequels/prequels, or the repetitive Indian remakes of those very pictures with complimentary song and dance situations thrown in, one should probably look elsewhere.
Enter New Bollywood.
Don’t be misled by the name – you’re not likely to find any predictable south asian love (lau?) stories in here. Situated opposite Colombo Jewellery Stores, under a blue board with the aforementioned title in purple letters, sits the city’s finest DVD retailer. Something of a haven for cultured film enthusiasts, New Bollywood offers a wealth of classic and contemporary cinema, much of which is foreign.
An abundance of diverse film movements awaits: from German Expressionism (Fassbinder) to Italian Neorealism (Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti), from the French New Wave (Godard, Truffaut etc) to the British New Wave (Loach, Anderson). There’s also a liberal sprinkling of Asian masters, present (Mehta) and past (Kurosawa, Ray).
The exceedingly influential American greats haven’t been forgotten either: you’ll find your Kubrick and Hitchcock in there. The same goes for all those modern-day mavericks with devoted followings: Paul Thomas Anderson and Michael Haneke, anyone?
Arranged in alphabetical order, the DVDs are cheap: classics are 150 bucks a pop, new films are Rs 100 and Blu Rays are Rs 300. NB’s enthusiastic owner may well give you a discount if you buy in bulk.
Now comes Catch 22: New Bollywood closes in a couple of months. Terribly tragic for those of us regulars who frequent the place on a weekly basis. I guess there’s not much more you can do than attempt to buy out their supplies?
There’s no silent or experimental film to be found here but it’s a price worth paying for a rather spectacular collection.