An interesting thought has emerged yet again… distribution of regional language films in India with subtitles.
It has been talked about often but no one seems to be doing much about it. Even an epic film like Pazhassi Raja is dubbed into multiple languages but not released with subtitles. Personally I find dubbed language films rather unsettling and would rather read subtitles. That way the performances are real and we are closer to the filmmaker’s original version. Dubbed films may be a way to reach out to audiences who may be unable to read. But in the context of multiplex viewer demographics, how much of a factor is that?
Fact is that quite a few films get subtitled (for the Panorama/ film festivals etc.), yet their release prints have no subtitles on them. There is an interest in non-Hindi cinema at the moment, especially among the multiplex crowd. But these filmlovers opt to see a French/Hungarian/Polish film over a homegrown classic. Why?
In a city like Mumbai, regional films are screened in multiplexes and this pulls in the regional audience. But it stops there. High time we step over this line. For all this talk of regional films being marginalized why don’t the regional filmmakers/producers/distributers look at this tiny element that can make such a difference?
It is embarrassing when some 16 year old Brazilian raves about a quirky Bengali film he has seen but I (the non-Bengali Indian) haven’t even heard of it!
Today Kerala Cafe is releasing outside Kerala – in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Bangalore, Michigan, Texas and God alone knows where else. Without subtitles.
Shashi Tharoor has tweeted about Kerala Cafe – “It’s a revelation to Indians weaned on Bollywood to realize that India has film-makers of such quality.KCafe deserves 2b seen outside Kerala.” It is a real pity that though KC will be seen outside Kerala, it will not be experienced outside the community of Keralites. 😦