Language no barrier: Mumbai team set on popularising regional films

July 12, 2019 12:00 am | Updated 06:26 am IST - Mumbai

Every week, volunteers collect information from theatres that play movies with subtitles and share the list with fans of cinema through Twitter

For the love of pictures:The creators of Mumbai Subtitles Database Amit Dadhich, Ahad Gilani, Devang Pathak and Harsh Desai.Emmanual YoginiEmmanual Yogini

For the love of pictures:The creators of Mumbai Subtitles Database Amit Dadhich, Ahad Gilani, Devang Pathak and Harsh Desai.Emmanual YoginiEmmanual Yogini

Four Mumbaikars have come together on Twitter to start Mumbai Subtitles Database. On their Twitter handle, they draw up a list of theatres screening regional movies with subtitles in the city every Thursday and Friday.

Regional films may have cemented their place in cinematic history over the years, but only a very small percentage of Indian movie goers get to enjoy this experience in theatres.

Inspired by Bangalore’s ‘Rally for Subtitles’ and Chennai’s ‘Subtitles Help’, Devang Pathak reached out on Twitter to seek help for a similar initiative in Mumbai. The result — a collaborative effort with a new handle called @MumbaiSubtitles to tweet from.

“I contacted (those behind) the pages (in Bengaluru and Chennai) to figure out the logistics of handling and making a database of my own. I figured that I would require a lot of help and attached a Google forms link to anyone who would want to join,” said Mr. Pathak, founder of Wasthatfunny, a publication on Indian stand-up comedy.

Audience experience

“There is an extremely popular notion in the cinema world, ‘Every movie deserves to be seen in a theatre, every film deserves its audience,” he explained — a sentiment he shared with three others who responded to his call. Amit Dadhich had been struggling to find theatres that would screen regional movies with subtitles for six years. Harsh Desai had been an avid consumer of regional films and Ahad Gilani enjoyed meeting people who enjoyed the films that he did. When they came across Mr. Pathak’s tweet, they quickly filled out the form link attached to it and formed ‘Mumbai Subtitles Database’.

Harsh Desai, an advertisement filmmaker said, “Generally, producers skip putting subtitles in their films because they’re positive that they can draw in their target audience. Many movie-goers also do not enjoy subtitles on the screen. Independent and artistic movies add subtitles in their films but mainstream movies tend to avoid it.”

“One could always settle for watching a dubbed version but that takes away the essence of the movie,” he added.

Technical aspect

“There are many theatres which are not equipped for playing movies with subtitle files that are sent to them by the producers. Unless the subtitles are hard-coded onto the film, it is out of the hands of the projection managers,” said Ahad Gilani, a student.

Amit Dadhich, a young businessman who also freelances as a digital content distributor, began getting in touch with theatres all over the city. “All of us live in the suburbs and have a hectic work schedule. A few volunteers reached out to us on social media and they help us by going to theatres and finding the information directly from the duty managers,” Mr. Dadhich said.

The process of extracting information from theatres remains tough for the group as managers aren’t always forthcoming with the information. “We hope that they recognise the symbiotic nature of this venture. Theatres would experience a surge in occupancy and revenue with the information passed down by our group,” Mr. Dadhich added. Mr. Pathak said, “For long, our audience has missed out on the diversity of regional cinema. We aim to change that.”

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