Friday, April 29, 2005

Mumbai Express – several steps backwards?

Mumbai Express – several steps backwards?

I recently saw the much hyped Kamal’s movie Mumbai Express and came out thoroughly disappointed with the viewing experience. For this movie was much talked about for its digital movie making efforts. Though this is comedy flick and keep you laughing, viewing it was not a pleasant experience. Much of the movie was too grainy and felt like watching a pirated VCD print.

So, what happened to the digital images? Aren’t they supposed to be better than the ‘reel’ films? Apparently not…I came to this conclusion not after my consultation with Dr. Google but after reading an article in The Hindu

The story goes like this… A regular ‘reel’ 35mm film has 2000 lines per frame and this is what we are used to. In the digital movie world we get from 720 – 1800 lines per frame. So even in the high end of the digital movie making we get sub par performance. Kamal took the low cost road to digital world and opted fro 720 lines per frame. This is somewhat similar to the handy cam clarity I get with my SONY.

Here comes the kicker, since most of the theatres are NOT equipped to project digital movies, Mumbai Express for copied ‘back’ to traditional ‘reels’ and distributed across the world. That’s the print I saw @ MayaJaal and Narayanan @ Naz8.

So, Why this retrograde step Mr. Kamal ?


  1. Interesting Post..!! Wonder why Kamal did this.!!

    Even a pirated VCD would be better.!

    Can you help my get my money back?

  2. but, you know, there are very small number of theaters in Chennai that can show digital,

    Our theater will take a look only if a senior movie maker like Kamal starts a new process,
    If smaller producer does it, Theaters will not be upgraded to digital in near future, it will be ignored,

    Since Kamal had taken the 1st step I am sure more people will come in this and soon we will have theater that can play digital directly.

    The Digial to 35mm conversation process is costly as of now, but very soon this technology will get better and soon over the period theaters will get upgraded and this middle process can be eliminated.

    also, kamal made sure he took very simple script to try out his experiment.

    Having worked on Digital short films and videos, I see Mumbai express example to be a good start for small time movie makers.

  3. Sriks

    Yes, there are hardly any cinemas in India and there are very few in the rest of the world that can project digital films.. This is an infrastructure issue which is going to take time..

    Yes, Kamal experimented with the 'bleeding edge' technology with his digital film.. but for what ?

    The film viewing experience left much to be desired.. so as a Viewer who paid for this film, I am not happy with his experiment..

    So, who is he trying to keep in good humor ? Producers ? That is perhaps the only plausible answer because it was 'cheaper' to make movie this way..

    My feeling is digital film technology is not ready for prime time..


  4. My feeling is digital film technology is not ready for prime time..
    I don’t think so, having worked with digital, if done properly it is almost near film. These days frames rates match film quality quite well, we can also add digital filters to make it look like film. It works.

    In addition, if you see the script Kamal choose for digital or grains or navathaniyam, nothing matters, DV is more than enough to show what ever he showed. :)
    How much it would bring into the script if he had shot it on 35mm or 70mm --- nothing. Digital works for this screen play.

    The only fault was he was little over confident with digital, he gave statements like "digital will not save money etc", but made sure that he never spent a dime more and was stingy all through the movie. WE can see this movie lacked funds in few places.

    Other than that, after all an artist has a freedom to experiment Right?. Sometimes works, most often goes for a six, without any bias, I do not see anything wrong here; People can always make a choice simply do not go for this movie. I am sure you would agree with me here.

  5. secondly we only see the converted copy! DV to film coversion is kind of shady still.
    I think we should comment after seeing the DVD. who knows, the digital version might be good. I still dont want to underestimate our DPs from kodambakkam, they are very well in par with international DPs.