Filming local, going global... .

NEW DELHI OCT. 5. But for them, the Indian film industry's dream of making it big in the global bazaar would have remained just that -- an expensive dream. And for those who missed out on the vital role played by subtitles in making any film a global product, here is the story that unfolds at the International Film Festival of India now under way here.

By all indications, Indian film-makers may soon find it easier to showcase their films in the Chinese and Japanese markets. Not because of increasing interest shown in Bollywood by these countries, but because the National Film Development Corporation -- the only agency that subtitles films in India -- is finally gearing up to adding the two languages to its kitty.

Rated widely as one of the best in Asia, NFDC subtitles not just Indian films but also those from nearby counties like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia. Having moved from the laborious and messy process of chemical etching to digital subtitling mid-'90s, NFDC has handled this particular segment of the film industry since the early 1980s when it first took up the job.

With the 1990s setting off a new trend for cinema -- with films being released internationally by Bollywood film-makers -- subtitles have almost become a part of film making now. "Earlier, only films selected for the Indian or international festivals would be subtitled. But with the concept of an international release gaining popularity, almost everyone is going in for subtitles now,'' says M.S.Sutar, NFDC Manager (Projects).

What started as a trend with Kamal Haasan's "Hey Ram'' became the norm with films like "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai'', "Mann'', "Mohabbatein'', "Yaadein'' , "Aks'', "Lagaan'' and "Devdas''. With Indian films gaining popularity even in countries without a strong Indian population, NFDC now is all set to master new languages.

With over a hundred freelancers working for it round the clock, NFDC may be loaded with work but it is hardly complaining. "We had difficulties with `Devdas' releasing a record number of prints abroad. It could have cost them a fortune had they gone for all original prints, but the problem was solved by using dupe negatives which cut the cost by one-third,'' says Mr. Sutar.

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