Dubbed South Indian films are finding an audience on TV as well as movie screens

Indra – The Tiger, Meri Jung, The Return of Chandramukhi… sound familiar, eh? These are some of the many dubbed South Indian films that have overwhelmed our small screen the last four –five years. Aired every other day on Hindi movies channels, dubbed films have acquired an audience that extends way beyond the regional audience the films were originally intended for. Be it the melodramatic dialogues, the exaggerated action-packed sequences or the highly amusing lyrics, these films have been regaling one and all, thanks to the band of dubbing artists, distributors and television channels.

Larger-than-life cinema

Manisha Thakur, a student, says, “I love watching these films as they are ‘light-hearted’ comedy. Maybe they were made on a serious note, but when dubbed in Hindi, the fun factor always increases," Sandhya Pawar, an MTech student in Maharashtra, agrees.

Increased TRPs

Niraj Vyas, Executive VP, Set Max, says when it comes to television, TRPs are the deciding factor for the continuation of any programme. “There is a huge demand from the audience for this genre. There are certain iconic scenes and characters, and the audience loves to watch things like Nagarjuna taking down 10 villains single-handedly.” He agrees that over a period of time people are accepting this genre of cinema well without any preconceived notions in mind.

While everything might go well with television, distributors say that films that do well in the South do not necessarily do so in the North too. The recently released Telugu film Eega created waves at the box office and was subsequently made in Tamil as well. The film made a collective business of a whopping 120 crore rupees across South India. However, when Reliance Entertainment screened the dubbed version as “Makkhi “in North Indian theatres as well, the film barely crossed the 10-crore mark, leaving distributors incurring losses. “The North Indian public has some sort of apprehension when it comes to watching South Indian movies in theatres, though they will definitely do so if it is being aired on some TV channel,” says Amit Awasthi, Regional Head, Reliance Entertainment (North India).

Vikram Sethi of PVR Pictures cites a similar example of Tamil film Enthiran, which was simultaneously shot in Hindi as well (Robot). While the film was declared a hit in South India, it failed to create an impact in northern screens. Sethi, however, makes it clear there is always a market for good content. “We cannot tar all dubbed South Indian films with the same brush. Films like Roja and Bombay, even though they were dubbed in Hindi, garnered immense appreciation from the North Indian audience as well.”

Sethi also adds that dubbing artists too play a major role in attracting the viewers. Shobhini Singh, a dubbing artiste based in Mumbai, says that the most arduous task is to maintain lip sync. “We have to keep a track of pace and fit in that metre apart from matching the voice and the lip sync. We call it trans-creation,” says Shobhini, who has dubbed voices for over 100 films, including South Indian ones.