The National Film Development Corporation has released over 80 films from its catalogue of restored classics and experimental films on multiple online video platforms. So far, these films are available on Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, and JioCinema. NFDC confirmed that they are also in talks with DTH providers in India, as well as more streaming platforms both in India and internationally.

Some of these films include classics like Salaam BombayGandhiMirch Masala; and experimental films like Om Dar-B-Dar, Percy, and Bioscope. Earlier, these films were only available on DVD, and on NFDC’s own streaming platform, CinemasOfIndia.

Justice to restorations

While NFDC had already begun restoring its films as early as five years ago, the results of those efforts weren’t very apparent. Because of the technical limitations of distributing restored films on DVD, the video quality suffered. Five years later, with more efficient video encoding and bandwidth on platforms like Prime Video, the extent of NFDC’s restorative work is on full display.

From exclusive licensing to wide reach

NFDC’s strategy of distribution for these films is unusual. Usually, production houses only lease their films to one streaming provider online, in exclusive deals. NFDC has instead chosen to lease their catalogue to multiple providers at the same time, on a non-exclusive basis.

“Our aim is that these classics over the last 30-40 years, which have pioneered Indian cinema, should be out there on [all] these platforms,” said Awadhesh Kumar, NFDC’s head of distribution and syndication. Even as NFDC continues to license more recent films on an exclusive basis, like Chauthi Koot to Netflix, they’re pursuing several content providers for their catalogue of classics.

In the US, Turner Classic Movies and Criterion, two large classic film libraries, recently teamed up to create their own streaming site, FilmStruck; but unlike NFDC’s CinemasOfIndia service, they are keeping their catalogue exclusive to FilmStruck.