Bollywood movies with English subtitles?
November 7, 2014 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find Indian movies with decent English subtitles to stream or download?

I absolutely love Bollywood movies, old and new. Unfortunately, I don’t speak a word of Hindi (or Tamil, or Telugu, or anything else that would be helpful here), and I’ve had a hard time finding Indian movies with English subtitles. Netflix has some, but in my experience most of their Bollywood movies are un-subtitled; same with YouTube. What are good online sources for subtitled Bollywood films, either to stream or to download? I know people who are big in to Japanese dramas, and apparently there’s a thriving LiveJournal-based culture of producing and releasing high-quality fan-made subtitles - is there anything like that out there for Indian film? I’m fine paying a subscription fee, so if it’s something like ‘this service is essentially Indian Netflix and has a lot of subtitled movies’, that would be perfect.
posted by Itaxpica to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A cursory search for "Bollywood" on Hulu brings up a wealth of movies. I can't speak to the quality, but it's where we get our K-Drama fix, and those are done very well and kept up to date.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 10:11 AM on November 7, 2014

Are you sure most of the Netflix Bollywood movies are unsubtitled? That hasn't been my experience, and a quick check of 4 or 5 titles that show up when you search under the Bollywood genre showed English subtitles for all of them. Are you checking down at the subtitles on/off option, or just basing this on the fact that the subtitles don't automatically appear when you play each film?

Back when I used to rent Bollywood movies from an Indian-American bricks and mortar video store, all of them were always subtitled (sometimes not very well, though). When I used to go see Bollywood movies in a theater in an Indian-American neighborhood, they were also invariably subtitled. Hell, I saw Jodhaa Akbar in a multiplex in Lucknow, India, and it was subtitled in English! I even rented videos in India where the movies were all subtitled. I've never experienced this "dearth of subtitled Bollywood" you seem to be experiencing. I thought they were just all subtitled in English as a matter of course, since English is a major lingua-franca in India.
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Are you checking down at the subtitles on/off option, or just basing this on the fact that the subtitles don't automatically appear when you play each film?

No, I'm checking the subtitles menu. I may have just had bad luck in movie selection, but I've found that ~50% of the dozen or so movies I've tried to watch via Netflix have had either no subtitle options at all or, more frequently, only Hindi subtitles. I've also found that DVDs are pretty much always subtitled, but I moved recently and don't have access to a place I can rent them (and I'd rather not buy a whole ton of DVDs).

This is on a Roku - I've never actually tried on a computer, and while I doubt that the platform would make a difference it very well might.
posted by Itaxpica at 11:17 AM on November 7, 2014

Best answer: I haven't noticed it with Bollywood films, but Hulu does have a lot of Spanish-language films that are not subbed in English, so it's possible some of their other foreign-language films aren't as well. Every Bollywood film I've browsed on Netflix, however, has had English language subs. Maybe there are differences based on Roku and/or Netflix software versions. Can you give an example of a film that your Roku shows you that does not have English sub options? What type of Roku device do you have? It would be worth checking against the Netflix player software on your computer to see if there's a difference. I've noticed my Roku device (an older one) doesn't handle certain channels as well any more after they've been updated, and functionality seems to change on some channels after updates.

If you're OK with watching films on a computer or tablet device, or you have a Chromecast or AppleTV in addition to your Roku, there's a service/app called Spuul that is basically Netflix but all Bollywood films, although you'll have to check each individual film to see if it has subs (many of them do not). There are different types of accounts, from a free account with limited viewing options and ads to paid subscriptions where you can watch anything and lose the ads. Unfortunately it's not available on Roku, and as far as I know there is no similar service for that device.
posted by rabbitroom at 11:33 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Youtube has a decent mix of indian movies albeit broken up into parts.
If you want to know the names of recent movies. Times of india movie review are good place to start
posted by radsqd at 12:18 PM on November 7, 2014

FWIW, I've also noticed missing subtitles on Bollywood and other foreign language films on Netflix, but only when I'm watching on a Smart TV. Usually checking the subtitle option on and off or reloading fixes it and the subtitles show up again.
posted by yasaman at 1:03 PM on November 7, 2014

If you own a film that doesn't have subtitles in the language you need, you could download subtitles for it. Search for the movie's name and "English subtitles."

Then use a program like MPlayerX (Mac) to watch the video, using the program's features to choose the subtitle file and adjust the time delay if the subtitles get out of sync.
posted by ceiba at 2:10 PM on November 7, 2014

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