The Kannada Film industry's aversion to dubbing dates back to the 1960s.
The ban on Kannada dubbing was lifted due to the efforts of Kannada Grahakara Koota (KGK). They started protesting against the ban because they believed that the ban prevented consumers from getting good quality content in the language of their choice, and that a few people should not be able to control something that has such a wide impact.
Earlier, the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) was in favour of the ban. Bindusaara R, who has seen Kannada film industry changing over the years, says, “Dr Rajkumar, he is like the Amitabh Bachchan of the Kannada Film Industry. He had a whole movement to stop dubbing from infiltrating our industry. I think out of respect for him many others also stopped.”
Another reason for supporting the ban was out of the concern that the artists of the Kannada film industry would lose jobs if more dubbed projects find place in Karnataka.
While one side was focused on the common man’s point of view, the other talked about the industry’s point of view, and due to the CCI ruling in 2012, the common people won. The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce’s subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court was also rejected.
Kannada Grahakara Koota has not stopped campaigning after the ruling. In fact, their Twitter page continues to be vocal about the need for Kannada dubbing and has even been responsible for last year’s trending hashtag #MowgliInIndia, which demanded that the Hollywood film be dubbed in Kannada.
According to a report in The Hindu, around the same time as the online campaign, a few dubbing- activists had written to the managements of the Kannada Entertainment channels, asking them to start broadcasting entertainment with Kannada dubbing.
Arun Javagal, a member of Kannada Grahakara Koota, said that the 2012 CCI ruling was a huge success. “We don’t see any opposition from inside. Viswasam film got registered and approved by the Karnataka film chamber only. So, there is no resistance in industry as of now.”
The KFCC sent out a notice to its members to not speak against dubbing or create roadblocks for those trying to release dubbed movies.
According to Javagal, “The only thing is people will have to adopt it, because from last 60 years people have not seen dubbed movies, right? So, it takes time for people to actually adjust to the new trend.”
Bindusaara says he is personally not in favour of dubbing, “It is still a growing industry and if you ask me, I would prefer a remade movie rather than a dubbed movie because, in dubbing lip-sync won’t be there and you won’t have a feel of the original language plus you can’t just go on dubbing each and everything. A Tamil movie dubbed in Kannada won’t work, because a Tamil movie is a Tamil movie. You have the essence of Tamil in it and that’s why it works there. If you remake the movie you will make sure that you get it to this nativity and then you make it.”
Regional movie actor, Gouri G Kishan, believes that a movie loses its essence when dubbed. “In the day and age when we enjoy even global language movies with subtitles, I don’t see the need for regional language dubbing to happen as well. It is all about making the most of the movie experience.”
Supporters of dubbing have said that the previous ban had hindered the growth of the Sandalwood industry even if it was done in an attempt to protect it. The reasons they state are that the industry has relied too heavily on making remakes than on creating original content and that the lack of competition from other regional movies had made the Sandalwood industry complacent.
While there are varied opinions on dubbing movies into Kannada, everyone is unanimous when it comes to dubbing educational content. Bindusaara says, “That is a wonderful thing, actually.”
“With regards to educational content, it is absolutely fine, actually needed. It is a necessity, because you can’t produce everything in all languages in India. You need dubbing to some point,” adds Bindusaara.
While not everyone is a fan of dubbing, numbers show that dubbed movies are actually gaining traction. Javagal saya, “Kanchana 3 from Tamil got dubbed to Kannada and released in more than 100 theatres, and even Viswasam got dubbed in more than 100 theatres”.
Thanks to the efforts by KGK, people can now watch Tamil actor Ajith Kumar speaking Kannada and can catch up on their favorite dubbed shows online on other online entertainment platforms.
(Contributors: Rasha Talkhani, Prachi Kapasi, Varsha Dilip)
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