Home / Industry / Media /  Marathi, Odia, other languages join pan-India movie wave

NEW DELHI : Following the success of Tamil and Telugu films, whose dubbed versions have found acceptance across the country, producers and studios in other industries, such as Marathi, Bengali, and Gujarati, too are attempting dubbing movies in multiple languages.

Zee Studios released the Marathi period drama Har Har Mahadev last Diwali dubbed in Hindi and southern languages. Recently, an Odia film Daman too, attempted a Hindi release, while the Bhojpuri film Maahi is the first in the industry to release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

“Streaming platforms have introduced people to content from regions other than their own, and everyone is now open to trying out stuff they may not be familiar with," Mangesh Kulkarni, business head of Zee Studios, Marathi, said. The company is definitely looking at multilingual projects, Kulkarni said and will accordingly scale up VFX and budgets. Like in the case of Har Har Mahadev, having lead actors with some kind of recognition across India can help further.

The company will be releasing another Marathi film called Ghar Banduk Biryani this April that it will dub in other languages and ensure a wide release.

Producer Anand Pandit, who has rights to his next Kannada project Kabzaa in multiple languages, said he would take a call on whether to remake or dub it in different languages for diverse markets. “The point is that today film-goers are language agnostic, and OTT platforms have also made audiences patient with subtitles. If a story is made well and promoted smartly, it will penetrate markets that just a few years ago were not open to experiencing an unfamiliar milieu or culture. It is true that dubbing cannot capture idiosyncratic metaphors and humour rooted in a region, but the global success of films like RRR and Pathaan shows that even when certain things are lost in translation, the power of cinema connects people across the world," Pandit said. For sure, makers are now motivated by the prospect of earning larger revenues and also taking their films to a borderless, global audience, he added. Pandit has considered dubbing his Gujarati films Fakt Mahilao Maate and Tron Ekka in Hindi in the past.

To be sure, the biggest challenge to smaller regional language industries remains the absence of star power. Unlike Tamil or Telugu movie stars who benefited from dubbed versions of their films playing on satellite television for years, these actors are barely known beyond their home markets. “We’re all in search of scripts and directors who can do justice to the idea and budgets for multilingual films, but we aren’t sure if our efforts will really pay off," Marathi film producer Akshay Bardapurkar said. Bardapurkar has backed a film called Chhatrapati Tararani that he is considering dubbing into Hindi. “There is no doubt all of us want to do what the Tamil and Telugu filmmakers have managed," he said.

Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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