Rekha Haricharan
Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar | Camera : Balaji | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
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Endhiran is in air and is the most omnipotent and omnipresent word right now. The count down has begun for its release on October 1st. And Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar caught up with Rekha Haricharan aka Rekhs who did the subtitling for Endhiran. In this special edition, Rekhs shares her experiences on subtitling and her dream to take Tamil cinema to a world wide audience. Over to Rekhs

Start of subtitling

I started my sub-titling career with Thoovanam which is directed by my husband Haricharan along with Newton in 2007. Madhu Ambat was the DoP. As the film had to be sent to Indian panorama, we had to subtitle the same. Madhu sir was such a source of strength and he guided me through this. Around 2009, my interest increased further as I realized that subtitling was not taken up anywhere in Kollywood and nobody was doing it as a profession.

Honing skills

What honed by skills in subtitling is my spiritual fervor. I listen to Shri Velukkudi Krishnan’s spiritual discourse in a television channel and translate his speech on Bhagavath Gita and Bhagavatham into English and post it in facebook. I have to do this in just 15 minutes. This, I think, has unconsciously honed my skills in subtitling. And more so, I am keen to take Tamil films to a worldwide audience.

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa

I had approached Gautham for subtitling his film and he was surprised and asked me ‘Oh you do this also?’ because he has known me as a costume designer. (I have also done the costume design in Thoovanam). That’s how I got the opportunity to subtitle VTV and it was a lovely experience. Editor Santosh sat with me and it took us 10 days to complete the work.


Subtitling is not as easy as people think. It takes around 10 days of 10 hours each. Then I sit with people to ensure that the sentences are broken correctly and placed right. Subtitling is coordination between the eye and the brain. One should also know some aspects of film making to do subtitling. I just love every nano second of subtitling.

Subtitling is coordination

between the eye and the brain

Endhiran took a long time


One day, I got a call from Sun Pictures asking me to contact co-director Jayaraman to do the subtitling for Endhiran. Needless to say, I was on cloud nine. Endhiran took a long time from August 4th to September 9th. In between I subtitled Arjun, Mammooty starrer Vande Matharam.

Endhiran experience

I can never ever forget the Endhiran experience. The ambience in Shankar’s office is very nice. The assistant directors treated me very well. Each one of them cooperated well and went out of their way to help me with words. Special mention should be made of Thyagu and Sridhar. We worked day and night, most often from 9 PM to 3 AM. Since they did not want to rush me through, they gave me the audio version first which I took around 8 days to complete and went on to work for Vande Matharam. Later I came back and started working on the visuals in Endhiran. I realized that looking at the visuals and translating, and hearing and translating are two different things altogether. I made a few changes and gave it a good shape. To go through the entire movie, it took around 10 days and posting it took another week.

I can never ever forget the

Endhiran experience

Tough song in Endhiran

Translating lyrics is very tough because the essence of the language should be preserved, the words, meaning and the rhythm. In Kilimanjaro number, the sensuality is important and one cannot write something and give it a ‘prose’ touch. The sensuality should be retained without giving it an improper feel.

For e.g. for a verse like ‘100 gramdaan idai, unakku ini yaaru naandann udai’ and when Rajni says this, it has to sound sexy and glamorous because it is aimed at Aishwarya and I translated it as ‘your waist weighs a delicate 100 grams, I am the apparel that adorns you’. I chose apparel over its other synonymous counterparts because ‘apparel and adorns’ give a lyrical twist to the line.

Interesting words

There was this word ‘ginni kozhi’ and after an extensive research (that included a talk to an ornithologist also), I understood that it is a guinea fowl.

Same way, we had a debate on the word ‘saavu graaki’ because there are many words in Tamil with a humorous connotation which if not translated correctly, will lose its essence. I thought ‘dead client’ was the right word. We finally zeroed in on Dead Meat for saavu graaki.

Ash says, ‘sukku milagu thatti ennai soup vechu kudiyaa’ and I came up with ‘garnish me with pepper and spice and taste your favorite soup’. I felt taste was better than drink in this context. Hence it was all thought provoking and time consuming.

‘Singa pallu’ is another phrase and after exploring, I hit upon the word eye tooth which is the equivalent of singa pallu.

It is important that I need to come up with the right word on the spot and should have a list of words in my mind

Vocabulary skills

I owe my vocabulary skills to my mom Viji Srinivasan who was the woman of the year in 2004. During my entire childhood, whenever I had problems with English, mom always insisted me on using the dictionary to correct my mistakes. Although I was not too happy then, I realize its value now. The ability to bring out various options as and when the director asks is something I feel good about and give the credit to my mom.

Verse on Aishwarya Rai

The line ‘ice-ukku ice vekkade’ is on Ash. Although, at home, we know Ash goes by her pet name ice, the global audience may not be aware of this. So we made it ‘don’t try to sell snow to the ice maiden’.

Personal stamp

A line that I am fond of is - ‘naan oora vaitha kani, enai mella aara vaithu kadi’, I thought oora vaithu and aara vaithu could be specially preserved and reserved and I used (p)reserved. Hence I wrote I am a fruit specially (p)reserved for you, savor me leisurely. I thought this bears my special touch.

Swear words

There are many such words Santhanam uses at Robot Rajni like metal madaya, aluminia gunda etc. I wanted to bring in such words without repetition. I came up with dunder head, block head, tin head, metal moron which I am sure would bring about the laugher intended despite being swear words. Generally we don’t use such words because we don’t yell at machines.

Director Shankar

On the whole, I loved subtitling Endhiran although it took up a lot of my time. I learnt something new in every frame or scene that I saw. I feel director Shankar knows the pulse of the audience very well. There were many occasions where I would simply be watching the film and not doing my work. It was an unique experience and I thank director Shankar for giving me this opportunity.

Shankar knows the pulse of the


Actor Sivakumar’s words

One of my long time supporters and somebody who has backed me in all my endeavors in the celluloid world beside my immediate family is Sivakumar annan (Suriya and Karthi’s dad). He considers me as his sister. When I told him about my interests in costume designing, subtitling and directing a movie (on my mom), he jocularly told - ‘are you doing an abhimaan in your own house?’ and of course he wished me.

Family support

I have a very supportive family- my husband, my three daughters and my dad.


I have a host of friends who support me in every celluloid venture of mine. Actors Jayaprakash, Kishore, Anupama Kumar (Kishore’s reel wife in Vamsam), Sampath, DoP Rajavelu (Yenippady Mayakkinai and Aadupuli), directors Nesan (Muruga) and Jeyam Raja, choreographer Balaji are all such good friends of mine who encourage me and refer me whenever there is a need of subtitling. When I want the phone numbers of any director, I immediately turn to my friends who help me out with.

Subtitling has not been given the

due recognition or importance

that it deserves


My dearest dream is to take Tamil cinema to every nook and corner of the world. We have so much talent in our industry and are capable of many more things. When we are watching Italian, Iranian and French movies, why can’t the world watch our Tamil movies? I feel subtitling has not been given the due recognition or importance that it deserves. I hope the scenario changes because Bollywood has woken up and most of their films are subtitled whether they go to a panorama or not. Subtitling is basically to reach a wider global audience.


I came to know that Magizhchi directed by Gauthaman has been selected for Dubai International Film Festival and I approached him. When I spoke to him, I realized that he is a staunch Tamil and would not speak a word in English. As his film was going to an international film festival, subtitling was needed. I shared with him my dream of Tamil films reaching a world wide audience through subtitling; he appreciated my interest and told me that I am indeed a true Tamilian. He went through sentence by sentence, frame by frame of my work. Magizhchi is a village based subject and he was very keen that native Tamil phrases should be brought out in their right spirit and flavor. We had exhaustive discussion on this and he came to understand my objective and lauded my work.

I am indeed a true Tamilian

Other projects

Director Prabhu Solomon’s Myna and Anand Chakravarthy’s Nil Gavani, Selladhey. These film makers have realized that it is just not the film festivals or the Indian panorama but they want the subtitles in FMS prints also. FMS prints have an advantage as the work is done on a negative and it is going to reach the non-Tamil global audience which is what we should target at. Karu Pazhaniappan wants me to do the translation for Mandira Punnagai for the FMS prints. Other projects are director Kuzhandai Velan’s Aanmai Thavarel, Veera Pandian’s Avargalum Ivargalum and Cheenu Ramaswamy’s Then Merku Paruva Kaatru. I am happy to note that directors who are working on a shoe string budget are keen to subtitle their films.

Healthy trend

I think the trend is picking up, thanks to Endhiran. But I would personally attribute it to Gautham Menon and DoP Manoj Paramahamsa who has put my name as Rekhs which has really kindled the interest.

‘Bridge the gap’ with Madhu Ambat

I have started a business concept called ‘bridge the gap’ with Madhu Ambat to basically bridge the gap between the directors, distributors and the investors. We feel that we should make quality films in a low budget that should reach worldwide audience. I heard around 122 stories and zeroed in on 3. Madhuji is working on to get the investors on board. I will also be directing a film on my mom.

Endhiran translation in U tube

My friend told me the other day that she found Endhiran songs translated in English were doing the rounds in U tube. When I checked, I was shocked to realize it was not mine. I am not sure if someone else is doing subtitling.

Vote of thanks

Madhu Ambat’s wife Lata, my close friend Lakshmi, Dr Ramakrishnan of Apollo Hospitals and the list is endless. My special thanks to my husband Haricharan.

Request to producers

Cost should not be a barrier to subtitling. When you do in a negative, it is much more than what you do for a positive or a DVD. Negative gives access to many more prints so that you can use for FMS prints also. I request the producers not to minimize the cost on subtitling because your rewards are going to be phenomenal.

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