Better Internet connections and increased video content are making it easier than ever to order or watch Indian and Hollywood movies online, legally
It was a weekend and instead of going to a mall to watch an expensive movie, Uttara Narayanan, 29, a social activist, decided to rent the latest Bollywood flick and watch it at home. She was surprised to see that she couldn’t find any movie rental shops in her Bangalore neighbourhood. “I didn’t want to buy a pirated cheap DVD or download a pirated version of the movie, so I went online to search for a video rental around my home,” she says. Her search led her to YouTube. “I couldn’t believe that YouTube is streaming some of the latest Bollywood movies which I wanted to see online for free!”
In October, actor Shah Rukh Khan partnered with Google India to promote his film Ra.One on YouTube. The site celebrated a month-long festival of his movies, which included superhits like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Chak De! India, Kal Ho Na Ho, Om Shanti Om and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, through October.
Free and easy: In several cases, there are no charges for movies online.
The model of streaming movies online seems to be working quite well with the Indian audience. Since the launch of YouTube Box Office in June, the website has already garnered over 18 million views and has about 1,500 movie titles.
Yahoo India launched Movieplex, its online free movie streaming platform, in August, but has uploaded only 30 movies. The company is in talks with both film and television studios for large distribution deals though, and is expected to increase that number greatly.
People who would rather not see pirated movies, and don’t want to shell out huge amounts at cinema halls, now have a number of options. Some of the best ones are:
YouTube’s Box Office
YouTube has created a microsite with ad-supported free movies. There are around 1,500 titles on the site as of now, and most of the collection is made up of older movies from the black and white era onwards. There are many regional language films on the site, along with Hindi movies. If you want to watch Hollywood or world cinema, check the complete listing of the movies on www.youtube.com/movies. Depending on the rights YouTube has, some of them might not play in India.
Upside: There are no delivery delays either.
Downside: Buffering happens fairly often. The films are also being streamed at a lower resolution, and don’t look great on full screen.
Where: Youtube.com/boxoffice for the latest Indian movies. For the complete list of movies on YouTube, go to Youtube.com/movies
Launched at the same time as YouTube’s Box Office, Yahoo’s Movieplex is also a free streaming site for legal movies.