Mind your language

At a recent meet held by distributors and theatre owners, the topic of discussion was the box-office success of Aamir Khan’s Dangal in Tamil Nadu. The film in Hindi and its dubbed version in Tamil have done extraordinary business in the state, including small towns and rural areas. The market buzz is that Dangal has grossed approximately Rs. 17 crore, with a distributor’s share of around Rs.8 crore, a sum no other Hindi film has achieved.

A leading Chennai-based theatre owner says, “It is not only Dangal, a lot of Other Language Films (OLF) in English, Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam too are having a good run in Chennai, Chengalpet, Coimbatore and non-traditional markets like Madurai, Salem, North and South Arcot. All the three Sankranti Telugu releases, Khaidi No.150, Gautamiputra Satakarni and Sathamaanam Bhavathi, have done well in Chennai and Chengalpet areas.”

Last year’s biggest dubbed hits were The Jungle Book and Dangal, both from Disney. Its content appealed to family audiences and it was also backed by good quality Tamil dubbing with perfect lip sync. Hollywood studios are employing the finest Mumbai-based Tamil dubbing artists and dialogue writers to make it near perfect. The final copy has to be cleared by studio heads in Singapore or Los Angeles before release.

The Hollywood studios seem to understand the potential of the southern market better than most of the local producers. A spokesperson of a major Hollywood studio says, “ The growth of the south Indian market, which includes Tamil and Telugu dubbing, is spectacular. Most of the studios now have an R&D wing that takes a call on the kind of films that should be dubbed. Today, the South is a bigger market than the rest of India. By 2020, the India market for Hollywood films would be the second biggest in Asia after China.”

Mind your language

Take a look at Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE Films India), 2017 release slate; out of 16 films scheduled for release, 10 will have Tamil and Telugu dubbed versions.

Among the lot are Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Smurfs: The Lost Village, Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Dark Tower, Blade Runner 2049, Insidious: Chapter 4, Jumanji etc.

A top distributor and exhibitor from Coimbatore says, “I control quite a few screens where dubbed content really works. The English and Hindi films which are to be dubbed this year in Tamil have already been announced, along with release dates. Tamil films, except for Rajinikanth’s 2.0, are yet to announce a release date.”

What makes OLF and dubbed films attractive to theatres in Tamil Nadu is that revenue sharing in the first week is 50:50 after tax deduction. But in the case of straight Tamil big films, 60 to 65% will go to the distributor. Tamil films without tax exemption are no longer attractive to the exhibitor.

Bollywood films too, which rarely got dubbed in Tamil, are getting dubbed versions out after the huge success of Dangal. For the Republic Day (January 26) weekend, Suriya’s C3 (earlier called S3, but to get tax exemption had a name change) will have stiff competition from Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees and Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil. Both the Hindi films are releasing a day earlier on January 25, and Kaabil will have a Tamil dubbed version called Balam.

Mukesh R Mehta of E4 Entertainment, who is distributing Kaabil and its Tamil version Balam in Tamil Nadu, says, “Hrithik Roshan already has a huge fan base in Tamil Nadu. Films like Krrish, Dhoom 2, Krrish 3, Jodhaa Akbar were dubbed in Tamil and were successful. Kaabil is a romantic action entertainer with loads of sentiments, which I’m sure, will work. The film is releasing in Hindi and Tamil in 140 to 150 screens, with the dubbed version giving us a reach in places where Hindi is not screened.”

Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees distributor for Tamil Nadu, B. Vinod Kumar of Green Chillies, explained, “Normally, SRK films are not dubbed in Tamil; despite that, films like Chennai Express did extraordinary business in the state. We have got around 80 screens for Raees, and it will do well in the core multiplexes in the 3 Cs, where it is leading over its competitor in pre-release booking.”

Last Friday’s Malayalam releases, Mohanlal’s Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol and Dulquer’s Jomonte Suviseshangal, too are getting more screens and prime shows in Tamil Nadu. Theatres across Tamil Nadu have already blocked April 28, for the big summer release — Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. Though producers claim it is a bi-lingual in Telugu and Tamil, the trade is treating it as an OLF. At the same time, no big Tamil film has announced a summer release.

Another interesting factor is that theatres which are getting renovated are depending more on OLF or dubbed versions than straight Tamil content to run the business. It is clear that 2017 will see a record number of films being dubbed in Tamil.

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2021 6:59:20 AM |

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