Hindi channels say ‘Vanakkam’ & ‘Namaskaaram’ to Southern hits

29 Jun,2012


By Meghna Sharma


What is common between Ghajini, Wanted and Bhool Bhulaiya, apart from the fact that they were all blockbusters and starred A-listed actors? The fact that they were all remakes of popular South Indian films.


Lately, Bollywood has been experimenting with a lot of films made down south. And since, the small screen is a reflection of what happens on the big screen, even the channels – movie as well as GECs – are cashing in.


There has been a spate of south Indian dubbed films being shown on the television. According to the recent data, there isn’t much difference between the ratings for Hindi and dubbed films on TV. On an average, both get a 0.3TVR (HSM CS15+ on channels like Colors, Star Plus, Sony Max, UTV Movies, Star Gold in Jan -June) as compared to prime time where Hindi movies score better.


So, it is logical to wonder, why the sudden acceptance of South Indian dubbed films on national channels? Is it a Rajnikanth effect or there is more than what meets the eye…


Formula or freshness?

Manisha Sharma, weekend programming head, Colors feels that the acceptance started gradually over four-five years ago with experimentation by all three stakeholders – Bollywood, broadcaster and viewer.


Anilkumar Sathiraju

“The viewer was getting hungry for content and the increased frequency with which Hindi blockbuster movies were being repeated ensured that he was willing to experiment with dubbed movies. The other thing that worked for the dubbed movies was the fact that the production quality of south Indian movies has gone up tremendously in the last decade. Also, the movies which were initial successes were the ones which had stars who, at some point, had crossed over into Hindi like Rajnikanth and Nagarjuna,” she added.


According to media planner Anilkumar Sathiraju, associate VP and head South, Mudra Max, the fresh content and faces are working in favour of the dubbed movies on channels. “Movies down south, especially Telugu films, have a certain mantra – say six over-the-top fight scenes, two behind-the bushes romantic songs – which isn’t very common in Bollywood movies of late. So, people don’t mind watching something ‘different’.”


Mohan Gopinath

However, there are movie channels like Zee Cinema, which have been showing South Indian dubbed films for a long time, which feel that the trend has caught on other channels recently. “To be frank, these movies have always rated on Zee Cinema, so the appetite has always been there. Other channels have picked the trend up in the past few years and now the viewer gets South films, dubbed in Hindi, all across. Now with South Indian films being remade into Hindi films, the appetite for dubbed films has increased,” says Mohan Gopinath, business head, Zee Cinema.


Manasi Sapre

Also with broadcasters taking precautions to maintain the real essence of the film while dubbing, not much is lost in translation. So, viewers find it easy to relate to the films.


Manasi Sapre, director programming and acquisitions, Movie channels UTV, said: “Though, dubbing is a challenging job, we make sure that the essence of the film isn’t lost in the process. Therefore, it varies – sometimes they are sourced dubbed and sometimes we do it.”


Vijay Subramaniam

“Till a decade or so ago, most regional movies were shown with subtitles which didn’t attract the viewer as much it does today, since they are dubbed. So, not only masala movies but also artistic films are able to find their way into one’s living room,” said Vijay Subramaniam, deputy GM, Madison Media.


Apart from the content and viewer’s acceptance, Anamika Mehta, COO, LodestarUM feels that it’s the explosion of media which is behind this: “What happened with the song Kolaveri di is the finest example one can give today. Boundaries are shrinking and more and more people are coming to know about the film culture down South.”


Cost cutting

Vajir Singh

Vajir Singh, editor, Box Office India accepts that freshness in content and crossover of actors – famous like Rajnikanth or lesser-known ones like Siddharth – does play a role, but feels that it is the cost of acquisition that plays a bigger part here: “If a channel can purchase entertainment at cheaper rates, then why shouldn’t it? South Indian films in comedy and action genre have always done well as they provide pure entertainment to viewers and eyeballs to the channel.”


He’s not the only one to voice such a sentiment. Even media planners feel that cheaper acquisition rates are a main reason why suddenly these movies are being shown on television so frequently. “It is far cheaper to acquire little older or newer South Indian movies than latest Hindi movies which are showcased as premieres on the weekends by channels. So, it helps them to build a bigger library,” said Ms Mehta.


“Broadcasters, over years, have been struggling with increased cost of acquisition, limited hits and increased competition. As compared to about a decade ago when a Bollywood star would have 2-3 releases a year, today stars prefer to do one movie at a time. Also, in a good business year the number of blockbuster movies will not cross 10. This, coupled with the fact that there are new channels getting launched in both Hindi GE and Hindi movie space, ensured that broadcasters was struggling for content and more willing to experiment with south Indian dubs,” explained Ms Sharma.


The new experimentation seems to be working for Bollywood and it is working for the channels and viewers too. No one seems to mind it!


Pictures courtesy: maxtelevision.com, Imaging: Rafiq



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