The Kannada film industry is divided over the issue of dubbing. What then does the future hold?
The 77-year-old Kannada film industry is literally at the cross roads. While the industry has almost accepted the remaking of other language films into Kannada as inevitable to survive in the market, it is now really in a confused state over the issue of ‘ dubbing' of other language films into Kannada.
Though there was strong opposition for remaking other language films into Kannada from a section of the film industry, attributing the trend as total bankruptcy of creativity, the market inevitability has overpowered the ‘perceived danger'.
Now, proponents of dubbing culture are again using ‘market inevitability' as a perfect alibi to usher what the majority is describing as detrimental to very existence of Kannada film industry, which is facing a threat from various quarters.
The issue of dubbing other language films into Kannada that is haunting Kannada film industry time and again; one can recall the recent ‘Koffee Shop' episode, a film directed by Geetha Krishna.
However, Geeta Krishna challenged the sentiments of the industry in the court and released the film in northern parts of the state, as it is more an emotional issue than a legal one.
Now “Aa Marma” is in trouble, with the Dubbing Scrutiny Committee of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) certifying the film as dubbed version and has restrained its commercial release.
Protesting against the decision of the Committee, Umesh Banakar and Anaji Nagaraj representing producers sector in the Chamber have resigned from their posts.
Those opposing dubbing are aware that their stand against dubbing has no legal sanctity which was proved beyond doubt during the release of ‘Koffee Shop', as the Court ordered for the release of the film. Torch bearers of anti-dubbing culture do admit to this: “Since there is no law stopping anyone from making dubbing films or serials in Kannada, only a self-imposed code will protect the interest of Kannada film industry which is in crisis,” says KFCC president Basanth Kumar Patil.
In the meanwhile, discreet attempts were being made to usher dubbing culture from the backdoor.
A private channel is facing the charge of telecasting devotional songs dubbed from the original Malayalam and also airing a dubbed film “Shwetanaga”.
However, the channel apologised and blamed the producer for concealing the fact. Another attempt to dub “Jhansi Rani” into Kannada has also been foiled by the anti-dubbing force.
The issue popped up in a CD release function recently, where producer B.N. Gangadhar appealed artistes and techni-cians to cut their remuneration before discussing the issue of dubbing. Another producer-distributor M.N. Kumar urged for a ‘democratic' discussion on the effect of dubbing culture on the Kannada film industry.
According to some of the members of KFCC, dubbing will help only producers and rest of the industry is bound to suffer.
Though Chairman of Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy T.S. Nagabharana tried to initiate a ‘democratic' discussion on the issue some time ago, he was made to eat his words and forced to withdraw circular in this regard.
Now, one section of the film industry is feeling that it is imperative to discuss this issue in a democratic environment and find a ‘universally' accepted decision.
“Representatives of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam film industries are supporting decision to oppose dubbing in the light of their experience,” observes noted director M.S. Umesh. Producer Surappa Babu demands an explanation from anti-dubbing film makers on their contribution in enriching language and culture.
Dubbing is detrimental to the interest of Kannada language and culture and that is why doyens of Kannada film industry protested then, says Om Prakash Rao.
Supplementing this opinion, Shivamani says that, Kannada loses its identity on allowing dubbing culture.
“An industry, which is boasting of having seven Jnanapith award winners will be forced to close, if we do not put an end to this, ” notes Rajendra Babu.
Now Kannada film industry is finding it difficult make a choice, as it wants to protect the interest of thousands of workers depending on the making of films, besides safeguarding the commercial interest of industry.
And striking the balance is not an easy task.