Streaming Sites Comparison Post Update: Prime is Evil in a New Exciting Way, Hotstar is Losing Relevance, Tentkotta is Getting Better, Netflix is Still the Best Platform

Prime has done something new and horrible which made me decide I need to do a new kind of “consumer beware” post in hopes of helping you save yourselves.

Prime is Selling Incomplete FilmsDo Not Watch Any Hindi Film on Prime Without Checking the Run Time from Another Source

There are multiple versions of most movies floating around, the actually physical reels of film vary. There are bits of film that broke, reels that were lost, or little local government censorships, or even censorships by distributor/theater owner (“my audience won’t like the kissing scene, I’ll just cut it out and throw it away”). What drives me crazy is that the actual full complete version for the films Prime is selling exist, it’s on DVD, it’s even on youtube videos by fans in most cases. Prime, somehow, has just purchased a massive library of vandalized films and made them available to viewers without any realization of what they have done, or feeling the need to throw up some kind of warning saying “not the complete version of this film”.

Before you watch an older Hindi film on Prime, check the run time from another more reliable source (fan loaded youtube videos, einthusan, even the image of the back of a DVD available for sale on ebay). If the times don’t match, DON’T WATCH IT!!!!!

Image result for sholay dvd case
This is from ebay, see how the time listed is 204 minutes? That’s three hours and 24 minutes, same length as it is on einthusan or youtube. On Prime, it’s only three hours and 15 minutes

I’ve run into two films so far that were destroyed before Prime loaded them. These aren’t small changes, these are massive ones that mean the Prime version of the film is not actually the film any more.

Guddu first, that’s the easiest to explain. Prime cut off the ending of the film. Not the last 5 minutes, the actual resolution to the plot. It’s a love story, and in the Prime version you don’t find out if the couple gets together. ?!?!?!?! This is ridiculous, here is a major company proporting to provide a film to you, and you have to go to youtube or find an article online to learn how it actually ends.

Sholay, that is a far far bigger deal. Imagine, for instance, that DDLJ was the film we know, and then at the last few days before release the police came by Yash Raj Studios and, with a literal gun to their heads, they were forced to reshoot the last five minutes to show Kajol marrying Kuljit and the wisdom and power of the parents being affirmed. The whole rest of the film is the same, this build of the perfect love story and so on, but the last five minutes were tossed in the trash and the police filmed a new ending.

That’s what actually happened with Sholay. Salim-Javed spent almost a year writing this perfect script, the producers dug up funding to make it exactly as it was envisioned, the whole thing builds to this statement on vengeance and grief and the masks men wear, and all of it. Sholay was being made during The Emergency, when Indira Gandhi instituted a dictatorship for a year and a half. And her men went into the studio offices and forced them to reshoot the ending, based on a script they had written that affirms the power of the police.

Sholay released with the police/censor board version. It became a big hit, but the real ending became the stuff of legend. The movie is okay, good enough, with the censored ending. But the real ending is what makes it the greatest film in Indian history. And then in the late 90s, the real ending was discovered and released with the DVD. It was a miracle! And that version of the film became the one that people saw around the world, the version I saw, the version people discuss on fansites, the accepted version.

And now Prime is rewinding the clock, losing this thing that was found. WHY???? How can you DO something like that???

Image result for sholay ending
If you didn’t see this, you didn’t really see the movie

And there’s more! Prime cut another 10 minutes from the film, I don’t know what 10 minutes but I know that the real version needs every single second of screentime so those 10 minutes are guaranteed to be vital.

And they changed the soundtrack. Sholay was the first Indian film made with Dolby sound, and the makers used that to the utmost. Each character and relationship has it’s own little musical theme, and the Foley sounds alone are iconic. You know in Chennai Express when Shahrukh and Deepika return to the village at the end? The series of sounds they hear as they arrive, the twang of the cotton being carded and so on, that’s a Sholay homage. That’s the exact series of sounds that herald the arrival of the bandits in the village before their raid. That’s how important the soundtrack is. And Prime tossed it out with the trash and threw on some dumb thing as a replacement.

Sholay is the horrific one, Prime is vandalizing one of the great works of cinema, and is second hand agreeing to state censorship. But it seems to be affecting basically every movie. Emily mentioned she is excited to finally watch Baazigar, so I checked that one. Don’t watch it on Prime, because it’s missing 4 minutes. Watch on youtube instead. Where is available, in full, legally.

Here’s the good news, most of the Prime films ARE available on youtube, usually legally. Prime apparently bought the rights to the censored cut versions of the films, meaning the rights of the actual real films are still out there and you can watch the real movie somewhere else. Just do a little bit of research to makes sure you are watching the right thing before you use Prime.

Hotstar is Not Moving Forward

Hotstar is still your best bet for older Malayalam films, although Prime is getting better. Hotstar just has such a massive library it will be a while before any other service catches up. But the newer films are being added slowly, and not that many of them. And the subtitles are getting less common. 6 months ago I said they were the one to beat, but since then Prime and Netflix have both beaten them in the newer libraries of films and subtitles.

Tentkotta

Tentkotta is the reason that Hotstar and Netflix and Prime have such a small Tamil/Telugu library. Tentkotta has been around a lot longer and buying up everything. Only downside is, terrible platform! It’s still not great, the movies that say “subtitles” don’t always play subtitles. There’s supposed to be a Roku channel but I can’t get it to work. Chromecast does seem to work, so that’s good. But the website is suuuuuuuuuuuuper slow. Like, I have been waiting for the homescreen to load the entire time I have been typing this paragraph. Oh, and you can’t see the English title for a movie until you click on the poster image. I don’t mean translated to English, I mean English script. That seems like a legitimate complaint, right? I shouldn’t have to learn how to read the unique Tamil script just to figure out if I am clicking through to Petta or Kabali.

Image result for tentkotta images

But the library! That’s what it’s about. Okay, you can’t find EVERYTHING, but you can find a lot of things, and if you just want to watch a good Dhanush movie, or a good Ajith movie, it’s there. You know, after you click on each poster in turn to find out what the actual title of the film is.

Netflix

Still the best! Crosses the very very low bar of having subtitles for every film, being searchable by title, and actually providing the real full version of every film instead of some chopped up unfinished thing. Prime has a bigger library, but if most of their films aren’t the real movies, I’d still prefer Netflix where at least I know that what they have, is the real thing.

20 thoughts on “Streaming Sites Comparison Post Update: Prime is Evil in a New Exciting Way, Hotstar is Losing Relevance, Tentkotta is Getting Better, Netflix is Still the Best Platform

  1. just watched the first half of Chupke Chupke ( Hrishikesh Mukherjee) last night on Netflix. Great quality sound and visuals compared to DVD version, but a lovely funny song, Sa Re Ga Ma with Amitabh and Dharmendra, is missing. So Netflix is capable of these cuts too. Hopefully, it is the only cut and nothing as horrendous as the Sholay cuts you mention.

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    • That’s ridiculous! Looks like Youtube has the best version of that one, 2:25 versus Netflix at 2:07 and Prime at 2:09.

      And someone is awake at the wheel at youtube! Check it out, their preview trailer includes “Sa Ra Ge Ma” just in case you were trying to find it.

      On Sat, Feb 15, 2020 at 8:54 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Even Youtube is not immune. A great many of Telugu films from the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s are on youtube — but their length varies anywhere from 2 hrs 30 mins to even 2 hrs, or sometimes, 1 hr 50 minutes! This at a time when the films were a minimum of three hours long. The problem is that all these sites are convinced, with some justification, that today’s viewers don’t have the attention span to watch films that are more that two hours long. Just see how today’s Hindi films all aim to be between 2 and 2.5 hours long, and how it has played havoc with the traditional narrative structure, since audiences still insist on having songs (albeit mostly montage) and, more importantly, an interval. That’s why I am trying to buy as many of my favorite films on dvd as possible, as they still contain the original length films most of the time. But unfortunately, dvd players are disappearing! Between the relentless march of technological advancement and shrinking attention span, most of the great classic films will be lost to future generations.

    But anyway, thanks for this post. I was debating between getting Prime or Netflix, so this has helped me to decide.

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    • DVD players have gotten so bad! They’re cheap but they last a year or two at most. The latest one we got has the worst remote I’ve ever seen. My husband has to put on his reading glasses to find the play button.

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    • To clarify, I don’t think Prime is cutting the films, I think they just purchased a massive batch of Hindi films from some other source and those films are heavily edited and just plain wrong.

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  3. I look at run times and cuts of Hindi films like I look at them for silent films.

    I know when they are shown on TV, they often censor bits; different ones from other cuts. When we had Zing, and they showed Sharmilee, so much of it was cut. They showed two or three different versions of Roop Tera Mastana and Mera Gaon Mera Desh, depending on the whims of the censor that year. There was like an hour cut out of Deewar when they showed it. It was ridiculous.

    DVD and streaming version of Swarg differ in run time every time, I’ve had the same problem with Ghungroo (the Shashi Kapoor version).

    I’ve also realised, talking to desi and Indian people about movies, that the versions of movies they watched, often taped off TV or whatever, were sometimes totally different from the ones I watched. They’d tell me how wholesome and fun movie x was, and I’d be like, what about the rape scene or that really bloody death scene or whatever, and they’d just look blank.

    Obviously, to me censorship is a human rights infraction, and I am against it; but equally I think they sometimes cut bits for time, much like theatres did for silent film back in the day.

    It’s a discussion we need to have, but putting the blame on Prime entirely is wrong, I think. There is at least some blame for formal and informal censorship and a lax approach to the text in India, too. What version was a distributor given? What are they working with?

    And I also don’t really go for the authenticity/authorship argument, either. What is the “real” version? The version of Deewar everyone watched on TV that is the one everyone quotes, but has over half an hour cut out of it? With silent films, you have to have this argument all the time and I think that is the most important thing.

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    • With Prime, I blame them for not taking responsibility for their content. They clearly just purchased within the past few months a ton of Hindi movies from a third party who only has access to prints that have been chopped up and messed with. Why buy from this third party? Why not write something into the contract requiring it to be the full film? Why not at least respond to complaints when viewers (like me) point out what they have done? Why not do the same amount of research I just did to confirm the run time of the film and reject movies with the wrong run time? Or at the very least, why not put a disclaimer up saying “this is not the complete version of the film”. I mean, TV does it, right? They put up a little “edited for time” thing. If Prime is showing that edited for time version, why aren’t they putting in a disclaimer?

      It’s the complaint thing that really bugs me. And weirdly, I think that’s why einthusan is so good! Both because the users on einthusan tend to really really care and will post comments immediately if something is wrong with a film, and because einthusan actually responds. The version of Sholay that Prime is showing is ridiculous, I put a comment there, and there were already some other complaints listed, but they aren’t going to respond to that, they just don’t care that much about their Indian content, they want massive quantities, not quality.

      On Sun, Feb 16, 2020 at 2:37 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I get it, but who’s to say what the “complete” version of the movie is? With Sholay, you can make a case for the directors cut being the complete version, but it’s not as easy with other movies.

        Zing NEVER put up anything saying they cut anything. Either for time or for content. Like in Sharmilee, they cut out soooo many scenes, so that the whole rape/murder thing is gone, and nothing makes sense anymore. They also cut out the item song, so you don’t get the bit about Kamini plotting. They messed up the whole film. No notice, nothing.

        Einthusan usually does have the best versions of things, sometimes even better than the DVD version! Their version of Ghungroo is best, but the Hotstar one of Swarg is best.

        Anyway, I mainly want a conversation about this because the censorship really HAS to end.

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        • In another comment, it came up that the Netflix Chupke Chupke is missing the Dharmendra/Amitabh duet. Which is cute and nice and all that, but I suppose the film still makes sense without it.

          On the other hand, cutting the ending of Guddu is along the lines of “wait, this doesn’t make sense any more!”

          Just as a thought exercise, how about this as a rule of thumb? If the viewers as a group object to the version shown, then it is not acceptable. Let the viewers determine what is “complete” and what is “incomplete”, not the censors or the filmmakers. If the majority of viewers indicate that they feel Guddu is complete without the last 5 minutes, but the Dharmendra/Amitabh duet in Chupke Chupke is vital to their enjoyment of the film, go with that. Which, again, seems to be why einthusan is so good, they have a very vocal group of users and they listen to them.

          On Sun, Feb 16, 2020 at 10:02 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I don’t know, I don’t like that idea because they’d probably want to cut out everything fun, like everything that’s inappropriate. I always go for the longest version with silent films, or whichever one I liked best, I don’t care about what the director thought lol. Actually, that is usually what they do with silents, make all the versions available, but labeled, then you can choose for yourself.

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  4. My only criticism of Netflix’ subtitles is that they have a silly habit of not subtitling almost any English words or phrases which can be jarring.

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    • I know what you mean, like you get the whole sentence the person just said minus the English word that was in the middle of it.

      On Sun, Feb 16, 2020 at 2:43 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • In that case there is a reason for it, someone made a decision. What is happening here seems to be pure carelessness, literally “losing” films not throwing them away.

      On Sun, Feb 16, 2020 at 12:41 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I have Eros Now from yesterday and I’m so disappointed. Apart of few movies in Polish , there is not much for me to watch. Even the ones in Polish are not the best e.g Banjo (like really, they could dub any movie and they chose Banjo?), Dishoom, another Riteish Deshmukh’s gem – Aladin, Shiney Ahuja’s Hijack, Raanjhanaa, Akshay Kumar’s stupid comedies etc The only ones I want to see are Ek Villain and Ki and Ka (I know you hate it but since it’s in Polish and Arjun looks so good, I think I sould watch).
    All this site looks like abandoned and outdated, for example they recommend all the time Tanu Weds Manu and Housefull 3, both almost 5 years old movies!

    My other new subscription Zee 5 is better when it comes to movies. but I have never seen search engine so bad. E.g if I write Shah Rukh Khan, they show me everything they have with this name. When I use the filter “movies” there are 75 results, things like SRK snapped in all white pathani suit in Mumbai; Malala praises SRK’s Zero etc Why it’s listed as movie? The real movies are maybe 5: Pardes (in many languages), Yes Boss, Ra.One (only in Russian, Arabic and Indonesian), Army and Dushman Duniya Ka. They really should invest in a good IT specialist.

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    • Aw man, I’m so sorry Eros Now is such a disappointment! While also feeling vindicated because I’ve been complaining about them for ages.

      Yes Boss and Pardes are good though, right? And Army is kind of fun. You can rewatch those a lot. And maybe, someday, try Ra.One again?

      On Sat, Mar 21, 2020 at 9:31 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I will give Ra.On another chance, but I’m surprised how odd it is.

        Now I’m watching a talk show with Arjun Kapoor on Zee5. I’m loving it because they subtitle hindi parts.

        Like

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