While weeding inactive links from my Amazon Prime list, I noticed that a handful of Dharma Productions movies are not currently available (at least not in the United States), including Kapoor & Sons, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Shaandaar, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. I’m assuming their absence just temporary, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Netflix announced earlier this week that it secured the rights to a slate of 18 Tamil movies and 16 Telugu movies that will stream on the service after their theatrical release. Netflix has long been criticized for its heavily Hindi-focused catalog, and this is a strong statement about the company’s desire to expand its Indian offerings into other languages.
This week’s other new direct-to-streaming Hindi film is the comedy Chhatriwali on Zee5.
I’m planning to review Mission Majnu and Chhatriwali next week. Today and tomorrow, I’m catching up on movies so I can vote in the annual Online Film Critics Society awards. The winners will be announced on January 23. This year’s list of nominees contains some really, really good movies, including RRR, which is nominated in three categories.
There are a lot of movies still to come to Netflix before the end of December, so head to my Netflix page to see the titles we already know about. I’m half-expecting to see one more big Hindi theatrical release debut on the service during Christmas break, but that’s just a hunch.
Also new today is the straight-to-streaming film Tadka on Zee5. This Hindi remake of the Malayalam film Salt N’ Pepper stars Nana Patekar, Taapsee Pannu, and Ali Fazal. (Update: if you’re trying to watch Tadka via the Zee5 app on Apple TV and use subtitles, the subtitles will appear at the top of the screen, obscuring the picture. See the photo below for an example.)
One note about Hulu is that it seems like they’re the streaming service with the most disparate regional restrictions on marquee content. With some regularity, stuff that they promote on their social media channels is ultimately available in India, but not in the United States. For example, Liger is now streaming in Hindi in India, but not here. [Update:Liger in Hindi was added to Hulu over the weekend. I guess the other lesson is: stuff isn’t added to Hulu as quickly as it’s added to Disney+Hotstar.]
Plenty of titles are available on Amazon Prime in India that aren’t free with Prime in the US, but they aren’t usually titles that are promoted in advance. All this is just to say that, while I try to be accurate in the “Coming Soon” section on each of my three streaming pages, don’t be surprised if some titles mentioned on the Hulu page never make their way to the USA.
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I just updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with yet another massive list of films that will soon expire from Netflix. Following the big purge of UTV titles on October 1, most of the rest of the UTV catalog will expire on November 1. Because of the ways that films are co-produced by multiple studios, I suspect a lot of this activity is due to a realignment of streaming video contracts. Many of these titles may wind up on Netflix again, although some will likely make their way other streamers (such as Disney+/Hotstar/Hulu in the case of movies produced by Disney India, like ABCD 2 or Zokkomon.)
Here are all of the movies leaving Netflix on November 1, with titles I’ve reviewed at the top followed by other titles in alphabetical order:
In other streaming news, the mass exodus of Yash Rash Films content from Amazon Prime that I wrote about last week turns out to have been more of a housekeeping matter. Previously, every YRF title had two separate catalog IDs: one from the initial time they were added to the Amazon Prime catalog and then when the movies were added again (for some reason). All of the original YRF catalog entries were wiped out on October 1, but the newer catalog IDs remain. So for now, the vast majority of YRF movies are still available on Amazon Prime. You can find all of them on my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime.
Unfortunately, no release dates were announced at the Tudum event. While every other show or movie got a new official teaser, Monica, O My Darling got a music video. If I had to bet, that’s the one I’d pick as next to release. Here are all of the shows that got new promo material:
Netflix recently launched a “Browse by Languages” tool to help filter content within their massive catalog. This is actually a useful feature for every subscriber, but it’s especially important as Netflix tries to expand their subscriber base outside of majority-English-speaking countries. Let’s see what this new filtering and sorting tool can do!
At the time of this writing, this feature is only available while viewing Netflix in a web browser. On the Browse by Languages page, users are presented with three dropdown menus next to the phrase “Select Your Preferences.” The first dropdown menu allows users to choose between “Original Language,” “Dubbing,” and “Subtitles.”
The second menu allows users to choose from a list of dozens of languages, including Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. Netflix offers movies in other Indian languages that aren’t included in the “Browse by” tool, so check my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix to see what Indian and Pakistani films and shows Netflix offers in Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Punjabi, and Urdu.
The third “Sort by” menu allows users to organize results by “Suggestions for You,” “Year Released,” “A-Z,” and “Z-A.” The Netflix algorithm selects the display order when “Suggestions for You” is selected. Choosing “Year Released” displays content in reverse chronological order, starting with the newest releases.
Note that changing a selection in a menu resets the menus to its right to their default settings. If the left-most menu is set to “Original Language” and you choose “Dubbing,” it resets the “Language” and “Sort by” menus to their defaults of “English” and “Suggestions for You.” If you change the language, it resets “Sort by” to “Suggestions for You.”
There is no ability to filter the content to choose only movies or TV series, making this tool only so useful for languages with a large catalog presence like English or Hindi. (Although apparently a lot of users have been looking for a way to exclude non-English titles from their searches, according to What’s on Netflix.) What the tool is best for is showing a wider array of options than might be first apparent for languages with a smaller catalog footprint.
The tool is also good about accurately displaying titles under their “Original Language.” Netflix has a quirk whereby some Indian movies have dubbed versions that have to be selected from within the film’s audio options menu (like the Tamil movie Don), while other Indian movies get separate catalog ID numbers for every audio version of the film. The movie Kurup has five distinct catalog IDs: one for the original Malayalam, plus dubbed versions in Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu. Thankfully, the new “Browse by Languages” tool only displays Kurup when Malayalam is selected as the “Original Language.”
One exception is Baahubali, which appears under “Original Language” whether English, Hindi, Malayalam, or Tamil are selected. But Baahubali is the exception to many rules.
Overall, this tool is a really welcome addition to Netflix’s website. Anything that helps users find and organize content by their preferred language — and with the additional ability to display the most recently added content first — gives Netflix an advantage over competing streaming services.