24 comments on “Tales of Two “White Men” Looking for Indian DVDs In Queens, NY

  1. Pingback: Breaking News: Brooklyn Hearts Ikea - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com

  2. so funny! now all the people who follow that nytimes link are going to walk in the store and 1) ask if they have slumdog millionaire which they won’t. 2) not know what they are talking about. 3) will give the goras a bad rap. So educate yourselves before you walk in, or you will be looked at in a very weird manner. Richard, you could educate them, by creating a biginner guide or adding a helpful link, or they will get the look, and jugging by this post, you and I both know how that feels. lol.

  3. Hi, Stella_1. You are right about the NY Times link… Though I am glad about the extra hits that this link brought me (hoping that at least a few will stick around beyond the initial visit), I don’t know if I should have been connected so directly to”Bollywood Fever” coming out of Slumdog Millionaire. (I guess it seems especially ironic, considering the thread we both just contributed to at Bollywood Food Club!) But it was certainly nice of this person at the New York Times to notice my humble and obscure blog here, I’m not going to complain too much about that.

    And thanks for the suggestion about the beginner’s guide, but I don’t know if I want to spend time and energy on a whole separate thing like that. I spend so much time on this blog right here (albeit, often to avoid doing less pleasurable things that I should be doing :), I kind of hope that if a beginner needs to know a thing or two, the blog itself will suffice.

    Besides, I have a list of blogs in the right sidebar that includes some other blogs a beginner could do well visiting for guidance. I believe you also just linked to one of them in your comment. :)

  4. That’s all pretty much part of my experience buying in Chicago’s Indo/Pak neighborhood along Devon Avenue. Almost nobody talks to me, and I’m not sure if it’s because they think I’m crazy or if they assume I know what I’m doing and don’t need any help. The best conversation I’ve had in a movie shop is when I commented on the owner’s proud display of photos of himself with various Bollywood stars when they had been in Chicago for stage shows. He had quite an impressive range and was delighted that I had noticed, giving him an excuse to talk about them.

    The owner of my local Indian grocery store (which rents films) will sometimes chat with me extensively – I gather “Bobby” is one of his favorite films, and he appreciates my love of Shashi Kapoor – and sometimes hardly gives me a smile. I’ve also learned not to go on Fridays, when the fresh produce and sweets from Chicago arrive.

  5. My list of fav tam movies..

    Most of Mani ratnam..
    Mouna Raagam
    Agni Natchatram
    Dil se
    Kannathil Mutham Ittaal
    Havn’t watched Guru yet

    Other directors more recent stuff..
    Chennai 600028
    Thavamai Thavamirundhu

  6. Hi Richard,
    I’m very happy to have found your blog/post! I have recently developed an intense interest in Tamil films and movie music (OK I admit to the fan crush on Chiyaan Vikram), but they are hard to track down. Could you get back to me on the name of the store in Flushing? Seems like a good field trip for the weekend….

  7. Anjali,

    Thanks for the list. As with the Bollywood movies, I’m most hooked on”Golden Age Tamil movies of the ’50s and ’60s, but I’m happy to catch newer ones once in a while…

    Coincidentally, I was already thinking of watching Subramaniapuram on YouTube:

    I saw Dil Se on YouTube a while back, but isn’t that a Hindi movie? (Or did they make a Tamil version?) It was good for the most part – maybe a little mixed in quality, but not nearly as mixed as the similarly themed Fiza

  8. Katie Kate BKLN,

    More coincidence – I was just planning to head back out to that neighborhood and that store tomorrow (that is, Wednesday). I’m also going to walk around a little and see if there’s another place, because this one doesn’t completely fit the description of the post that I referred to (though it could sort of fit). It would be nice if I could find a bigger one with even more Tamil videos! (And maybe older Tamil videos – with subs, that would be great…)

    So you have a fan crush on Chiyaan Vikram? The first movie that comes to mind is Anniyan. I saw that a couple of years ago, but without subtitles (or, rather, I sort of sped and skipped through it, to get to a couple of the song-and-dance scenes). Though I don’t know if I needed subtitles, really – since the most important phrase in the movie was an English phrase, uttered repeatedly: “Multiple personality disorder.” That made it kind of easy to figure out what was going on. :)

    By the way, does anyone know what “randaka” means?

  9. Hi Richard,
    Please let me know about your recon in Flushing, even if it’s just a likely street name. I’ve never gone out there in spite of living in BKLN for the last 5 years; I was just going to take the 7 to Main St and start wandering around.

    Thanks for the rec on Anniyan; I rented it from Netflix recently and enjoyed it’s blockbustery-ness. The song picturizations and choreography are the best things about it, I’m pretty sure you didn’t miss any insights into the human condition by watching it without subtitles. ‘Arul’ with Vikram and Jyothika is a so-so movie with stand out choreography by Dinesh Kumar; I gather you dig the dance especially.

    Have you seen any movies that Prabhudeva has choreographed? Not totally consistent, but when he’s on it’s a complete joy. Mr. Romeo, Minsara Kanavu, and Kadhalan are all 90s movies of his would recommend you check out for the dance. Also he directed and choreographed the Telugu NVNV (Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana) which has AMAZING dance sequences.

    Could you recommend some of the golden Tamil stuff for me to start with? I’ve seen a lot of the recent stuff, but don’t know where to start with Sivaji Ganesan movies, or even Rajnikanth.

    You lucked out weather-wise for your outing to Flushing!

  10. Hi, Kate. Thanks for the info about Tamil Wire. Yeah, I’ve been there. :)

    I went on my trip to Flushing as planned yesterday… I didn’t find anything there myself, because these Tamil DVDs were really the newer ones, and I really am in search for the older ones. But you might find a few titles that you like.

    The place is located on Main Street and Blossom Street. If you find the Flushing Library, you can go to the right side of the library when you are facing it, and keep walking. (Or, you can just google map it or MTA map it. :)

    I have to say, the neighborhood around there is not very interesting for Indian DVD huntiing in general. I walked around there quite a bit, and there was very little – just one other store that sold Indian DVDs, and it was very tiny. If you are interested in Indian DVDs in general, of course the best place to go by far is still Jakcson Heights, right at the 74th Street stop on the 7 train.

    I did find a stack of Tamil and Telugu DVDs in a place on 37th Road, next to the Eagle Theater. But once again, they were very new ones.

    Ironically, after walking around for miles in Flushing, I ended up buying DVDs in a place about six or seven blocks away from me, on 73rd Street and 37th Avenue. This was yet another one of those knickknack sort of stores which happen to sell DVDs in addition to bangles and jewelry and other stuff. This was where I found the latest movie that I wrote up, Mujrim, for $5. (Also picked up Kohinoor from the same stack.)

    I think I will continue to count on buying favorite Hinid DVDs (as long as I can afford to do so) and finding most of the Tamil ones online.

    For early classics…

    Possibly the first one I saw among the Golden Age classics was Uthama Puthiran (1958). It contains a great performance by Sivaji Ganesan (as two very different brothers separated at birth – good and bad, rich and poor, etc.) and several of the best dances by Padmin and Ragini, as well as an excellent dance with Helen. I saw it without subs, then with subs. You can find both online. (Unfortunately, I don’t know the sites off-hand where you can find it with subs, but it does turn up somewhere if you do a search. Maybe Rashri has it.)

    I thought Sivaji was great in Thiruvarutchelvar (1967), and it also had a fantastic dance by Padmini. (I also wrote this one up recently.) You can get that with subs at Rajshri.

    If you like mythologicals (I think they’re fun and interesting), there’s also Athi Parasakthi (1971), which has a number of skits with good dancing by Padmini and Jayalalitha (among others) and good performances by Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan. (That one’s on YouTube, by the way – unless it’s been taken down. It’s generally pretty available on the Web, I think.)

    Mannathi Mannan (1960) has fine dances and a great pairing of Padmini and MGR – also available with subs online (if not at Rajshri, somewhere). (I saw it with subs online first, but then an Internet friend out there sent me a good copy of the film on DVD.)

    There are a bunch more I could mention, but I think I’ll get to them at another time…

  11. LOL .. this was hilarious … eitherways … if u want a fix, watch my channel on youtube/soulKurry

  12. Hi. Thanks for the good word, and for linking to this post from your soulKurry YouTube site. My movie watching habits have been kind of stuck in the 1940s lately, but I’m sure to come back to some contemporary stuff, and I’m more likely to watch contemporary South Indian movies than Bollywood ones, so I probably will watch some of your movies.

    I have a YouTube site too, by the way. It is:


    I have put up a few clips from Tamil movies almost 60 years old, and soon I’ll be putting up some 55+-year-old Telugu clips, then some more ancient Tamil clips.

    I don’t actually have these movies and I don’t make the videos; I have a connection, also on YouTube, who’s been kind enough to send some of these old rarities my way once in a while.

    I have a favorites list, also with lots of ancient stuff (some from movies that I have actually seen). Once in a while, I’ll “favorite” a contemporary bharatanatyam dance or Pakistani mujra, (I love those Lahore mujras – hope they never get banned!) I also might put together some playlists of Noor Jehan and Padmini (to start). So, feel free to visit that site, especially if you’re in the mood for (mostly) ancient stuff…

  13. Hi. I described the specific location in my comment of March 19, above. If you want to find it, I think that’s as good as an adress – and at least as good as knowing the name, since the name, as far as I can tell, is very generic (as I recall, the sign above the store just refers to “videos”; I couldn’t even tell they sold Bollywood and Kollywood videos until I looked in the window).

  14. Another place that sells new & Old tamil DVDs, as well as malayalam, and telugu DVD’s is:
    24808 Union Tpke
    Bellerose, NY 11426-1837
    (718) 347-1669

    they speak english fluently there- and are very nice to deal with!

  15. Eagle, thanks for the recommendation. This is a bit far east (in New York City terms, anyway :) , around the Queens-LI border(?)… But I’ll try to get there sometime.

  16. I managed to get out to edison NJ- Picked up about 20 old tamil DVD’s for approx 5 bucks each!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and telugu DVD’s – try 5 for 10 !!!!!!

  17. I am really excited that non Indians are watching Tamil movies. Enjoy watching because they are the best when it comes to entertainment. You must watch this movie : KUNGAMMA POOVUM KUNGAMMA POORAVAM what a climax. Had me speechless !!

  18. Richard and Kate… Quite interesting to see your interest in tamil movies. WOW.. Even i havent seem that old tamil movies in a while. If you are looking for classics i might recommend Shantha chakubhai, haridas, meerabai, pattinathil bootham, veerapandiya kattabomman, thillana moghanambal, thiruvilayadal to start with. The list goes on..

    richard.. rendaka is jus a filler word.. means nothing

  19. Sundar, thanks for the good words and the recommendations. I have seen Thiruvilayadal and Thillana Mohanambal. (I watched the former with subtitles, the latter without – because of my love of Padmin!) I have seen scenes from Veerapandiya Kattabomman, and I’ve downloaded the soundtrack thanks to a post at Tamil Film Story (a blog by another completely non-Indian person who loves Indian films. :) And I will have to look into the other ones that you mentioned…

    By the way, I kind of knew that “Randaka” was just a “filler word” :) …

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