Video International is the gold (or blue) standard for DVDs in Colombo. And yes it has branches, the main one is near Barefoot at 700 Galle Road, there are others in Battaramulla and Nawala. Here we’re reviewing the shop on Thimbirigasaya Road, at the corner of Fife.
First, the piracy issue. There is no place to get ‘legal’ DVDs in Sri Lanka except perhaps M Entertainment (branch at the Hyde Park Arpico and online) or ODEL. These DVDs are very expensive and there is also a limited collection. So it’s not that Sri Lankans are avid pirates, it’s just that these huge international companies make no effort to market to or serve us at all. Sri Lankans pirate not out of malice but neglect.
That said, under international copyright law these things are not especially legal. International copyright law is dumb and not followed anywhere especially, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is.
On To The DVDs
So whatever, you live here and you want to watch a move, ignore the corporate forces at play. Video International is a bit more expensive than the other DVD shops in Colombo (of which there are many) but they make up for it with quality and selection.
If you want Tamil films Wellawatte is obviously better, and those streetside kades serve up a decent variety of action and Indian romance. Video International, however, has the best selection of western movies and a huge Blu-Ray collection to buy or rent.
The Thimbirigasaya outlet is small but packed with pretty high quality DVDs. We got Moonrise Kingdom, Cosmopolis, Evita, Shame, To Rome With Love and an Indian film about Silk Smitha called Dirty Picture. They also had – wonder of wonders for a DVD shop – a pretty comprehensive documentary sections, with Planet Earth, Human Planet, etc. They of course have a TV and you can try things out before you buy.
For regular DVDs, Video International has volume pricing. The more you buy the more you save. We bought six DVDs so we paid Rs. 135 each. If you buy less than five you’ll be paying Rs. 160 per. If you buy more than 11 you pay only Rs. 125 each. If you’re buying more than that we’re not sure the five rupee savings make much of a difference to your addiction.
For Blu-Ray DVDs (much higher quality, if you’re wondering) the prices are Rs. 300 each. Seeing as these DVDs cost thousands of Rupees abroad, I suppose that’s fair, or as fair as piracy gets. Note that these aren’t originals, they’re Malaysian copies but they look the same to us.
If you’re really into Blu-Ray (and some films really are worth it, like Avatar or Pan’s Labyrinth or 300 or the like) you can become a Video International member and rent. Membership is Rs. 1000 (non-refundable) and then Blu-Rays are only Rs. 100 per rental. You have to return them in four days.
We used to love Dasa on Galle Road, but they seem to have moved and Video International is our new favorite spot. They have plenty branches and good selection, plus reasonable pricing for what you get.