Saawariya Blu-ray Review
PictureOriginally framed for 2.35:1 this now comes to BluRay at a wider 2.40:1 using the MPEG-4/AVC codec and obviously these days at 1080p. Unlike the film itself which you may quickly forget the picture is reference material; by a long way as well.
The extra width suits the film well, even though it was shot on closed sets there's a wealth of information available to the viewer and it's all there for you to pick out as you see fit. The initial RK bar where Raj and Gulabji meet has artefacts on tables, the bar and on far walls and all can easily be identified even though some are shrouded in shadow. The initial view of the square when Raj's befriends the locals again offers up an amazing amount of detail, there's far too much to take in (especially whilst you're also reading subtitles) and these scenes (along with Lillipop's apartment, the canals, the shadowy back streets) all deserve repeated viewing just for the extraordinary beauty that they offer up.
Contrast is excellent. Most scenes are veiled in shadow for one reason or another, yet still the picture has incredible depth and detail. As mentioned the chases through the back streets, the hidden corners in the bars. All of this adds to that elusive 'pop' that we enjoy the most from this new technology. Saawariya is incredibly 3-dimentional with the foreground actors being lifted from the backgrounds and their counterparts.
The transfer itself is flawless. Even in the darker scenes there's not a hint of grain that I could see. There's some fine floating dust in the fog or the spotlights but never grain. Skin tones are spot on and this is in complete contrast to the colours on offer in the splendid clothing of the cast. Primaries are deep and incredibly bold, leaping off the screen yet tightly held within all of their borders and not once encroaching upon the detailed embroidery of the stitching.
As I say it's reference material and the guys may not like it but next time they ask me what Blu-ray looks like then I know which disc I'll be reaching for.
SoundThere are two audio tracks of your aural pleasure. An original Hindi Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and a weaker standard Dolby Digital 5.1. I will always, without exception, watch a film in its original language, to do anything else is distracting and somewhat disrespectful.
The audio is good but not quite up to the same high standard as the video. From the outset you'll be immersed in a wall of sound as the songs fill your room from every channel. The surrounds do not detract from the audio coming from the frontal stage during these moments though they simply add to it and widen the stage somewhat. During these song routines the audio is splendid indeed with the slight strings from the sitars coming across particularly well, as do the percussion from the chenda which adds incredible low bass to the whole proceedings. Be warned when this film decides to go low then not even a futuristic limbo dancer could beat it.
The frontal stage explodes with music once the song and dance routines are up on your screen and there's apparent depth to the side and almost behind your screen as well, such is the effect of the myriad of instruments being played. Panning between left and right is excellent but don't be expecting any steerage into or from your surrounds as it's just not required here.
At times the low voices during conversation do get a little lost but that's really only for the odd moment or two and this is the only reason why this score dops just the one point. In saying that the vocals during the songs are superbly defined and never once lost in the mix.
- Making the Music of Saawariya. - 0:19:58
This is a brief look at the people and process involved in bringing the music to the final product. Realised by one Monty Sharma who certainly put together one of the most memorable scores I have heard. It's a rather odd extra as it's not just the music which is discussed, but also footage from the opening night of Saawariya which whilst welcome does seem a little out of place.
- Premiere Night Footage. - 0:21:59
And this is why the opening night footage mentioned above is a little out of place, because it's all repeated here and then some. This has some cast and some crew up on stage before the film is shown praising the work which Sanjay Leela Bhansali has produced. It is a lurvey type affair but seems genuine enough.
On top of that there's a short trailer for Water Horse: Legend of the Deep and two commercials for Citibank. When a studio start advertising commercials as extra material then we know we're on a rocky slope somewhere. The two featurettes should really have been amalgamated into one with perhaps more cast interviews and definitely some direct words from Sanjay himself. What we're left with though is really throw away stuff which seems only to have been onto this disc as an afterthought.
VerdictAs a disc set Saawariya is a definite mixed bag. It has stunning, truly stunning, video and a fantastic audio mix; the storyline and extras though really let this one down. When I first volunteered for this I thought, watch it, review it and pass it on. Now though I'll be keeping this on my shelves as there are some wonderfully choreographed scenes in there I will want to watch time and again.
The storyline is weak, and the two main actors don't really play well off each other and that's a shame and perhaps the reason why the love story itself never really kicks into gear. Excellent video and audio though can't really overcome a weak storyline and a lacking extras package and the end score reflects this.
Only you will know if you're going to dive into this 'Bollywood' offering and it's certainly not everyone's cup of tea - in the Western Hemisphere anyway. I can say though that it's well worth watch just for the visual imagery up on screen and because of that perhaps you might want to give this one a rental. If you do I'm sure there'll be a few out there going back for more and eventually picking this one up.
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- Making the Music of Saawariya. - 0:19:58