William Shakespeare wasn’t an avid Hindi film fan, nor was he a fan of South films. But if he was, well, we’re sure he would pardon us for disagreeing with his famous words: ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’
To the South film industry, ‘a rose by any other name would smell even sweeter’, when dubbed in Hindi and re-released for the non-South audience. They are thus released in cinemas, on television and on the digital platform, with one crucial change – they now bear Hindi titles that draw on the names of hit and super hit Hindi movies.
They have just one sole objective – to stir the imagination of the masses and reel them in. Add to this the fact that these South films often have huge South actors playing the pivotal roles, and it doubles the chances of their success at the box office or ability to garner impressive TRPs.
The list is endless but here are a few South films dubbed in Hindi that have incorporated the titles of hit Hindi movies: Kaabil Deewana , a dubbed Telugu film featuring Ram Charan and Kajal Aggarwal, Sultan Ka Fan, a dubbed Telugu film featuring Prabhas, Sathyaraj and Anushka Shetty; Happy New Year 2, a dubbed Telugu film featuring Mahesh Babu and Samantha; Main Hoon Na 2, a dubbed Telugu film featuring Pawan Kalyan and Tamannah; Bajrangi Policewala, a dubbed Telugu film featuring Mahesh Babu and Shruti Haasan; Rowdy Cheetah, a dubbed Telugu film featuring Mahesh Babu and Prakash Raj; and Kapoors The Criminals, a dubbed Telugu film featuring Vijay, Sathyaraj, Amala Paul and Abhimanyu Singh. The list is seemingly endless… but you get the point, right?
The titles of the dubbed films are not quite as random as they seem. As soon as a big-budget Hindi film is announced, in no time, the South Indian industry capitalises on the title and either dubs an old film in Hindi and gives it a similar title or releases a dubbed version in Hindi, of a film that is releasing at the same time.
If you include online video sharing platforms, these dubbed films generate a lot of traffic. Surprisingly, they also seem to have loyal viewers for their satellite telecast!
One can’t help but marvel at the ‘creativity’ of these regional filmmakers, who come up with these quirky titles. This week, we seek the opinion of the trade on why these South films are given Hindi titles and what are the benefits to be gained from this practice.
While the theatrical release of these dubbed and rechristened films might not benefit greatly, the digital and satellite releases of these films are positively impacted. The film itself may or may not be popular but the Hindi title captures the imagination of the audience. Besides, these films have big stars from the South, like Vijay, Allu Arjun and Ravi Teja, and this boosts their prospects.
But bear in mind that the title is carefully chosen so as to relate to the content of the film. The South filmmakers are so ingenuous that if the South dubbed film is a romantic film, then it is given the title of a famous Bollywood romantic film, just so that the audience connects with it.
Giving a South dubbed film a Bollywood title is a good way to hook the audience. With titles like Kaabil Deewana, Bajrangi Sher 2 and Sultan No 1, they are bound to attract attention. This works especially on the digital platform and on television. South films are often dubbed in Hindi and re-released alongside a big-budget Hindi film, with a title that uses the name of the Hindi release. It’s all about making money. Thanks to these big Hindi films, small-time distributors, who give second-release films to small centres, make some money.
Which film-goer wouldn’t be curious to watch a film titled Kaabil Deewana when a Hindi film titled Kaabil starring Hrithik Roshan is about to release? These regional films not only cash-in on the title of Hindi films but also on the actors attached to these Hindi films. Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan’s film titles are the most popular – Raees and Sultan – in recent times. These South dubbed films are given Bollywood hit film titles that match their content and story. It is a great advantage for the dubbed film to carry these hit titles because of the familiarity factor. It gives the dubbed film a huge advantage. It doesn’t matter who the director is, the story or background; if the Hindi film is a hit, the audience will believe that even the dubbed film with a similar title will be good to watch.
Cinema Owner, SahebGanJIt’s very simple… these South dubbed films would not do great business if people did not relate to them, and the easiest way to connect with the audience is by making them connect to your film via its title. For instance, let’s say a Shah Rukh Khan film titled Raees is about to release or has been announced. These South dubbed films, which have released before, will rerelease again or a new film will be announced with a title similar to the Hindi film, like Raees Damaad.
Similarly, we have seen films like Sultan No 1 or Sultan The Warrior, obviously borrowed from the Salman Khan-starrer titled Sultan. Since the South version will not be understood by the non-South audience, a title that incorporates the Hindi film’s title is meant to help people connect with the film and hint at what it is all about.
This is an old practice. No doubt, these regional films have a huge star cast but these actors have gained popularity across the country only after their films were constantly aired on television. The title of a film is the first thing that connects with the audience, which is why these films borrow titles from hit Hindi films. Sometimes, the regional filmmakers match the genre of their film with that of the Hindi superstar. So, for instance, if the dubbed film bears the title of a Shah Rukh Khan film, it is likely to be a romantic film and if it is Salman Khan’s title, the genre is likely to be action. Borrowing titles directly impacts the film’s box-office collections.
Usually, in our rural centres, where films are never promoted, the title of a film assumes even greater importance. For instance, a man in a small village like Jharia near Dhanbad might have only heard of Kaabil and that a film by this name is about to release. He would probably not know anything else about the film. So when a film titled Kaabil Deewana releases in a cinema near him, he will go to watch it. These dubbed films with Hindi titles clock good business with their satellite premieres too.
The logic behind giving Hindi titles to dubbed movies is to create a connection between the audience and the film. These South dubbed movies don’t have great dialogue, so the audience avoids watching them in cinemas. So these films have only one source of revenue – television. Big South actors feature in these films, so in a way, these actors gain national popularity because of these dubbed releases. These films do much better on the digital platform and on television but they also do decent business with their theatrical release.
South dubbed films take Bollywood titles just to make the cinema and television audience assume that the film has some connection to a hit Hindi film. So, there are dubbed films with titles like Don No 1 or International Don and so on. Once a Hindi film becomes a hit, its title is repeatedly used for South dubbed films. I hear the latest are titles such as Aa Gaya Jolly LLB, Sultan Ka Fan, Kapoors The Criminals, Sultan No 1 and Raees Damaad. These titles might sound funny but they mint money with their digital release and television premieres. They don’t do very well in cinemas but they do make enough money to cover their expenses. Also, these films feature big South stars, which is a plus. That’s why , for instance, Allu Arjun has fans in Bihar or Ravi Teja is very popular in UP!
These films are not supported by multiplexes and are made for small towns with single-screen audiences. These movies don’t run for more than two to three days in cinemas, even in small towns. They are mostly full of action and bring in business during the weekends. However, there is a flip side to that. These movies work only if the stars are big and their titles resemble hit Hindi films.
The response to these films depends largely on the casting. For example, movies starring Jr NTR, Allu Arjun and Prabhas run for a long time in cinemas even though their titles are inspired by Bollywood film titles. If these films are promoted well, people come to watch them. Maximum collections come from B-C class single-screen cinemas.
These dubbed South films are re-released mainly for satellite and YouTube audiences. They do good business only on the digital platform and on television. Most of the audiences for these movies come from C Class centres and single cinemas in small towns.
There are plenty of films that are released with such titles, however only the good ones work. Many movies sink without a trace. Only the distributors and producers benefit from these films. These films don’t stay in cinemas for more than a week and may run longer if they are well made and feature a good cast.
These dubbed films do good business only on the digital platform or on television and they work in territories like Western India, Orrisa, Bihar and Delhi-UP. That’s why some South actors have a fairly big fan base in these circuits.
Cinema Manager, WardhaFirst, many of these films don’t even get cinemas for release, and it is only once in a blue moon that a film with borrowed Hindi titles works. A lot depends on their star power too. Films of stars such as Mahesh Babu, Ram Charan Teja, Allu Arvind and Jr NTR work in cinemas. Also, the public has widely accepted Prakash Raj in any role. But the biggest marketing push for these films is on television and on channels with heavy demand, and the makers receive a hefty price.
These South movies are usually Telugu and Tamil films and are dubbed in Hindi, especially for North India. These movies work in the circuits of Mumbai, Pune and a few other parts of Western Maharashtra. If the star cast is huge, they fetch a huge price. The smaller films are sold for Rs 2-3 lakh and have limited release and business. The dubbing of films of big stars such as Allu Arjun and Mahesh, Babu who star in movies such as Main Hoon Racer, make it to television channels and they recover costs.
These films don’t work a whole lot. They have limited releases and limited screens. They are never screened in multiplexes and only work in single screens. They usually work in small towns and have a limited run of three-four days, primarily over the weekends. Titles do help as they are relatable and don’t seem to be restricted to the regional viewers. Hindi hit titles are domestically famous and hence South films are cashing in on these titles.
These titles are clearly bait for the audience but it is unethical. This is done because, on YouTube, there are no restrictions on titles. And that is why this trend is picking up. Obviously, South dubbed films with Hindi titles are minting money because if people come across a title that sounds like it is related to, say, Raees, this sticks in their mind. Moreover, when the film features a known star, people are more likely to click on these titles, online. The greater the number of clicks, the more money is made.
This gimmick works only when the title is familiar and catchy as opposed to a translation of the original title in a South language. South dubbed films are in great demand on YouTube and satellite, and people will connect with them only if they understand the titles. Hence, these quirky titles that play on hit Hindi films are an excellent hook to the content of the film. Films like The Return of Kaalia, Bajrang The He-Man and Sambha have good content and the titles are easy to understand.