If Aamir had played fair, would Asin have cried foul?
Aamir Khan  

When the Hindi Ghajini posters and hoardings hit the streets, I saw only Aamir. I kept thinking that there must be other posters and hoardings with Asin in it that also acknowledges Murgadoss prominently but I saw none. The only time I did see Aamir and Asin together was on the cover of a Hindi movie magazine promoting Ghajini.

And then, the alarm bells went off when Asin recently spoke to the media about how shocked and wounded she was that the movie promos did not include her in a more visible way. (Very recently there have been TV promos featuring her). A feeling of déjà vu hit me: was this, after all, another version of that old Bollywood attitude of ‘oh those poor Kollywood cousins down South, let’s give them a handout? We’ll take what we want from them, and give them some credit – but not too much’. It’s true that Ghajini gives Asin and Murgadoss a Bollywood break - should they just be content with this juicy bone that’s thrown to them? Or should they feel the Hindi version did not publicize them enough?

You could argue that Aamir could have gone with a known Bollywood heroine. But then would it have been possible for the star to leave her out of the posters? I might be reading this entirely wrong and would like to give the benefit of the doubt to Aamir Khan. But his co-star (though she isn’t in the posters!) wondered herself why there wasn’t more of her. The Hindi Ghajini emerges as
an Aamir Khan solo. We had hoped at least Aamir would play fair. If he had, would Asin be crying foul?

On a slightly different note, a Behindwoods visitor and contributor from Malaysia, Sharmila Valli Narayanan, points out that Bollywood movies dominate the market there and pull in a bigger audience because they are subtitled. She lamented the lack of subtitles for Tamil films, feeling they would bring in the local Malay audience.

“In my own little way.” she says, “I am doing my bit to promote Tamil films among non-Tamil speakers and non-Indians by lending them DVDs with subtitles. I lent a Malay friend of mine the Ayngaran DVD of SOK which comes with superb subtitles, and she just loved it and watched it 4 times. My Malay friend has now gone through Kakhaa Kakhaa, Vel and Vaaranam Ayiram. She is now a bona fide Surya fan, and would love to watch a Tamil movie in the theater with me but, alas, I can't take her because there are no subtitles.”

So Kollywood take note: a simple thing like subtitling can bring in a fresh audience for Tamil movies in Malaysia and Singapore. I would urge directors to go further and subtitle Tamil prints that show in states outside Tamilnadu. Rajiv Menon Hindi-subtitled the Delhi and Mumbai prints of Kandukondain, Kandukondain and saw packed houses. More recently Kamal English-subtitled Dasavatharam prints, and this was widely appreciated by non-Tamil speakers. Kollywood resorts to subtitling only when they send a movie to a film festival but it should become standard practice. If the entire Indian film industry did this (the Mumbai industry simply assumes everyone knows Hindi, and this just isn’t true for most of South India) then we would all feel motivated to see movies from each other’s region, appreciate them more and celebrate them.

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