Dubbing or Subtitling : Which works better?

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Dubbing or Subtitling : Which works better?

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First making films for theatrical release and then dubbing them and releasing them for either theatrical or video release has become a fashion. There are many such films which were quite successful in their original rather than dubbed versions. Examples: Magadheera, which released in 2009, was presented in Tamil as Maaveeran in 2011. The film, however, got mixed reviews in the Tamil speaking region, and performed nearly well. Similarly, several other blockbusters to flops have been released by dubbing, and most viewers feel the disconnectivity due to nativity factor. But there are some filmmakers who make their films in different languages straight without dubbing them, the best examples being of Telugu movies Eega (2012) and Baahubali The Beginning (2015). These films were directly made in Tamil as Naan Ee and Baahubali respectively. Besides, these films enjoyed a good favour from both the critics and audiences alike, and were blockbusters at the Box Office. But has one ever thought of subtitling a film if dubbing and simultaneously shooting sounds painful?

Foreign language films often release with subtitles, mostly in English, so as to combat the nativity factor coming in between. We have also heard examples of the Telugu film S/O Satyamurthy being released in Tamil Nadu with English subtitles, although I have only heard and not exactly watched it in theatre. Similarly, in a review of Baahubali The Beginning, I had read a critic say "Filmmakers must release their films with subtitles instead of dubbing them since it looks original." I do agree, but I haven't myself seen this thing work.

Previous year saw big Tamil and Telugu releases in the Hindi market: something great which happened after a big decade, I feel. Shankar's I, a great entertainer, was released in Hindi and collected Rs 11.2 crores at the Hindi Box Office. Baahubali, one of the best films of the year, collected the highest for any dubbed film: Rs. 120 crores from its Hindi dubbed version alone. But there were some other films, like Puli and Rudhramadevi, which too were dubbed and released on a good scale. Since Baahubali was a huge success and was praised for its world class visuals, these two films also were packaged with top notch visuals. But both these films were unable to do very well in any of the languages out of Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. Puli had releases in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. The VFX was being talked about.  Rudhramadevi had a Malayalam release as well. But not much is known whether it did well or bombed.

Dubbing and its cost here proved to be very painful. Subtitling wouldn't have cost much. When viewers can watch a film without minding who the lead hero is, and just by focusing on the content, then why can't subtitling a film work, especially at the Box Office?

Our films release in overseas centres with subtitles. People there watch and enjoy these films. Because many a times watching original is better than dubbed, as dubbing sometimes plays a spoilsport. Best example is of Kamal Haasan's Hindi film Abhay (2001), which was dubbed in Telugu. The recording and dubbing didn't seem good enough, although the film was quite entertaining. But when in the climax, Kamal sir shouted on his hand being bitten, the voice used for his dubbing sounded too funny and rather childish that even in the most serious segment, I ended up laughing. This is not the same in the original Hindi version, I think, since I am unable to find it anywhere.

I feel Bollywood too must try this. Superstars keep dubbing and releasing their films, which aren't though quite successful, but do succeed in combating the nativity factors. Shah Rukh Khan's 2011 top entertainers Ra.One and Don 2 were dubbed in Tamil, and the dubbing was so crisp that one could hardly complain. But still, I feel, subtitling must be tried as well. As far as I know, Hindi film Vishwavijay is scheduled for a release in 2018, with Tamil subtitles, theatrically. Whether it truly releases or not is a thing to watch out for!

Prashast Singh
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Tags : Eega, Baahubali



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