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The dubbing argument

Sharath Bhat for


With the news about a dubbed film being ready for release, the dubbing debate has resurfaced. Should Kannada film industry allow dubbing or not is the question. The answer is not an easy one.

Let me also take an anticipatory bail. I am neither completely for Dubbing, nor completely against it.

I guess, this whole issue is about what will happen to the B and C center audience if Dubbing comes. Cosmo Kannadigas are not watching Kannada films anyway. Apart from an occasional Uppi, Guru Prasad, Rakshith Shetty, Pawan kumar or Yograj Bhat film they don’t even know much about the Kannada films anyway. At max ,they might watch some star movies.They are happy watching Hollywood and Bollywood movies. A sizable fraction of them might even be watching Tamil/Malayalam/Telugu.

Dubbing or no dubbing will not make any difference to KFI as far as this cosmo kannadiga class are considered. It is like the guy who buys Hyundai cars. The debate is about whether Ambassador Cars should be allowed or not. It will not make any difference to him since he is not using Ambassador cars anyway. He is buying Hyundai cars and he will continue to do so. Ambassador or no ambassador will not mean anything to him.

People like me will watch Hollywood films in English itself. I will watch French/Italian/Spanish/Iranian films in the original language with subtitles.

So, the argument boils down to: What will happen to the B and C Centers? Will the mass stop watching Kannada films if dubbing comes? The answer to this can only be speculative. That is why I am neither for dubbing, nor against it. A skilled debater can argue either way.

Some points that I can think of:

1. I want this remake culture to stop. You remake good films like Autograph and Aptha Mithra once in a while. Such remakes once in a while are welcome and necessary. But most of our top stars are doing remakes after remakes after remakes. Salute to Dr.Shivaraj Kumar in this matter for taking a bold stand. I want dubbing to discourage the remake trend. And scene lifting might also be discouraged.

2. Capitalistic theory: Competition is good. Competition results in better products. If you sit in your home, protected by your parents, you will not grow or become good. It is when you go out and compete with the best that you learn. Take Pre-Globalization era India. Ambassador, Maruti 800/Omni and Fiat were the only cars available. After globalisation we have so many options. Now Maruthi has to face competition. they did not close their factory. Competition has only made them better. They have responded by reinventing and producing new cars which can compete with other Global brands. They have released stuff like Alto also. We want KFI to be like Maruti. Let us compete with Telugu and Tamil. We might lose a few battles initially but eventually we will learn to beat them. We will be forced to make stories that are better than Tamil/Telugu films.

3. Who are you to dictate what the audience can and can not see? Let them make a choice. Can you stop people from using iPhones because local phone manufacturers don’t want you to get iPhones? We will say, let the local guys produce something better than iPhones and we will but it. Don’t force us. Give us that freedom. We will buy whatever we like. If you want us to buy your product then create something that will attract me. Regarding lip sync: I will reject the films with bad lip syncs. Don’t decide for me. I will decide whether I want to watch a lip synced film or not. Films with bad lip syncs will irritate me and I will naturally reject them.

4. Situation back in the 60s was different. There was no such thing called KFI. It was Madras which was everything. We were not at all organised, there were no professionals, no stars, nothing. So, A Na Kru and Raj Kumar and all had a valid point. Now it is an established film industry. We are very well established now. Let the Box Office Kings  face Vikram,Surya, Mahesh babu and such. If they really are Box Office specialists then they will emerge victorious.

5. Watching films is more like an addiction, abhyasa bala. Just because Pizzas and burgers came we will not stop eating Dose, Idli and rice. SImilarly those who are addicted to kannada film will continue to watch Kannada films. Fans will watch their idols next big film no matter whether a Tom Cruise or Pawan Kalyan or Amitabh Bachchan has a Co release. This abhyasa, addiction will not go anywhere.

6. Culture, language and all: Firstly, KFI does not do justice to the culture and language of Karnataka. It just shows the culture of Bangalore and Mandya in a vast majority of cases. Karnataka is not limited to Mandy and Bangalore. There are other parts also. KFI has not even bothered to check what people in other parts do and how they speak. Our culture was alive long before the film industry came and it will be alive in future also.

7. Raj Kumar at least spoke in crystal clear kannada and taught people how to talk in Kannada. What have today’s heroes done? They are rarely concerned about creativity, bhaashe and all. They are busy protecting their stardom & securing their future like businessmen.
Even the Munis and Manjus are concerned with how much money they can make, nobody here is really concerned about Kannada. So, don’t expect sympathies now. We will also act like the customers of a businessman. Let the best businessman with the best product flourish, even if he is from some other state.


1. We already have given half of our theaters to Tamil, Telugu and all. Now you guys want to snatch the rest of theaters also for your dubbed films? Where will we release Kannada films? In Mangala Graha?

2. You can not compare Kannadigas with Tamil/Telugu guys. A Telugu guy will even watch a dabba(mediocre) film. An ordinary film will also make 50 crore business there. We are nirabhimaanis, Kannadigas will be harsh on routine movies.Their screen density and movie watching populations are high resulting in a much bigger market for Tamil and Telugu. So, we face a real danger of extinction in the long run. Spare us.

3. Competition is between equals. Because of our nirabhimaana, inferiority complex, meekness and various other factors, KFI is already like a person with a knee injury. If you ask a person with knee injury to compete with Usain Bolt, it is not equality. It is like they are already on shoulders of a giant and we are still crawling. Competition will destroy us. Can we ask a 5 year old kid to compete with a 25 year old guy? Competition will destroy the kid. Kid needs protection.

4. Try for a job in Europe. You will see that only Permanent residents of that region are allowed. If they allow open market policy then people there will be unemployed. They protect their people first. Even in Singapore PRs are preferred 1st. This is natural. Let us say that your son gets very low scores in the exams. He is not doing well. Do you say ask him to perish because he can not compete with others? Do you say, “Let him fail because he is not doing well”?
You give some concession to him. You give some concession to him. You protect him and in the future he might become the best engineer/Doctor/Lawyer/teacher/Social worker/Poet/writer/businessman whatever.KFI is like this son. It is ours after-all. These are our people. Let us give some discount/concession to them.

5. In Argentina, they watch dubbed versions of Hollywood films. There is no such thing as an Argentinean film industry. Dubbing has almost killed the Argentinean film industry(May be dubbing was like condom, it did not even allow the Argentinean film industry to take birth), Do you want Karnataka to be another Argentina?

6. We all saw how our distributors and multiplexes inflicted injustice upon a small Kannada film like Rangitaranga by snatching theaters and not giving prime time shows, by not displaying the show-timings etc. This problem will only aggravate with dubbing. When a Baahubali releases, we will have 300 shows for the Telugu version, 100 shows for Hindi and Tamil versions and another 200 shows for the Kananda dubbed version. Only way to do this is to snatch theaters from a film like Rangitaranga. Stars will not face this problem as they already have a big fan base. Filmmakers like Anup,Rakshith, Pawan, Giri Raj will certainly see theaters and shows being snatched for the next big Telugu film!!

Let us agree that the world is not always fair. There is no level playing field and the big often kills the small unfairly. Rangitaranga had overwhelmingly positive reviews and it had nothing but “Sold Outs” mind you, it still had to lose theaters. A Kannada film made with a budget of 3 Crores will always lose theaters to a hyped up 100 Crore Telugu/Tamil/Hindi/English film. This will happen no matter how good the film is. Rangitaranga losing theaters to Baahubali is a very good case in point.

Sharath Bhat for


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