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By Arun Gopinath
Last week saw the release of a sensational movie. The posters called it, ‘Sexy Girl Reema Sen’ in Ilavarasi. Obviously, it did not have a major release, just a couple of theaters around the city which are reserved for B grade flicks, mostly of the titillating type.

Why would Reema Sen act in such a movie, one thought? She is a fairly successful actress, who, by her own admission, does not bother about the number of films she does as long as the ones she gets are good. And, she has been able to maintain that over the years, being part of projects
like Aayirathil Oruvan. This surprise over seeing her in the posters of a supposedly B grade flick lasted only for a while; that is before one discovered that it in fact was the dubbed version of a National Award winning Bengali movie, Iti Srikanta, directed by Anjan Das.

Of course, Reema Sen showed enough spunk to not take such an insult, both on her and on the film and blasted the people responsible for such a gross misrepresentation of a movie through posters. A movie that was recognized as a worthy piece of art by the national jury was reduced to the level of trash by a publicity strategy which chose to highlight only a few scenes, the nature of which does not need elaboration.

Now, this is not a new practice amongst local distributors. There are umpteen examples of films from other languages which are dubbed and released in Tamil, solely for B grade theaters. We all know that there is a B grade film industry and a market associated with it. So, when such films are made, dubbed or released in any manner, we can accept or ignore it as one of the many nonsensical things that keep happening around us.

But, when such treatment is meted out to films that are truly good works of art, it makes one feel uncomfortable. It is as if a few people can conspire to bring down a reputation of film personality built over a career of hard work and dedication. Take the case of Reema Sen itself. Starting from Minnale in 2001, it has taken almost a decade, upto Aayirathil Oruvan in 2010, for her to build a reputation as a gutsy actress. Well, her career might not have been a flawless one, but she did find her place in Tamil cinema. Yes, she has done a fair bit of glamour during her time, but has seldom (almost never) crossed the line between glamour and vulgarity. But, all that has been damaged by one silly move of a distributor. For people who follow cinema closely, the fact of the matter might be evident and we will never hold Reema Sen responsible for what happened. But, a majority of the population perceives cinema only through the publicity material on offer. And, for every such person, the perception of Reema Sen would have changed, probably forever.

And, spare a thought for the Bengali film industry. Iti Srikanta is a film that would have made them feel proud. To think that his work has been so gloriously vilified in their own country would infuriate them.

This is not the first time that such a thing has been done to a regional film from other parts of India. One remembers that in 2006, Rituparno Ghosh’s Chokher Bali featuring Aishwarya Rai had received similar treatment in Tamil Nadu.

At that time, Bollywod was closely watching the original version as proof of the fact that Aishwarya Rai could in fact be a powerful performer. And, how were local distributors in Chennai looking at it? They were creating posters which would make the film look like a B grade flick featuring Aishwarya Rai. Even, late last year, the Telugu Vedam was dubbed and released in Tamil; the claim on the poster being that it was the most glamorous avatar of Anushka. The publicity was unabashedly designed to make it evident that the highlight of the film was none other than Anushka.

You might be quite surprised to know that it was the same Vedam that was remade and released as Vaanam in 2011. The Tamil industry hailed it as an excellent attempt. And, look at the way the Telugu original was received and treated just a few months back!

The point is; the Tamil film industry must be mindful of such things. The downright deplorable treatment of good films from other languages sends a very wrong message about the respect that the Tamil industry has towards its counterparts. Imagine, what would have been the reaction of the Tamil film industry if a film like Hey Ram, which is a pride of Tamil cinema, was dubbed and released in some part of India as a B grade flick just because of certain scenes?

Yes, the entire industry is not responsible for such mistreatment of films. It is only a few tasteless businessmen who do such things. But, it reflects poorly upon the whole of Tamil cinema. There should be regulatory mechanisms in place which make sure that such perverse attempts never get to theaters. Else Tamil cinema might come to be known as a place where works from other industries are devalued and disrespected. Let’s give respect where it is due!
Tags : IlavarasiReema SenAayirathil OruvanMinnale
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