North Indian invasion on the south silver-screen

Published Jun 18, 2014, 10:12 pm IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:38 am IST
The dubbed versions of Hindi serials have the Malayalam artistes and industry in a twirl
Kochi: Every evening,  Monday to Friday,  almost every household must be witnessing similar scenes — an elderly man or woman clasping the TV remote like a kid and switching channels to watch their favourite soap. They cry, laugh and sometimes shout in anger when the villain slaps the poor heroine, a caged bird. This is a time of relaxation for those who are enjoying the autumn of their life.
However, the artistes who have been entertaining parents and grandparents of every Malayali for a long time, say that their situation is getting worse every day. Recently, the General Body of ATMA, an association of television artistes, averred that Malayalam television channels should refrain from telecasting dubbed versions of Hindi serials, especially family dramas citing that it would adversely affect their sole livelihood. In this context, we asked the concerned people about this new trend and its impact.
Every actor supports the cause. Seema G. Nair, actress and Vice President of ATMA, feels that the dubbed serials are stealing the time of locally made soaps. “There are many artistes whose sole income is from acting. The television serial industry is already moving on a rough path with demands for fresh faces. The situation has deteriorated with the advent of dubbed serials. One episode of a serial is only 20-22 minutes and the availability of time slots for serials is reduced. Hence, we lose our opportunities. If people like Hindi serials, they would watch that in Hindi. I don’t think there is much demand for dubbed versions here,” says Seema. According to her, imitating   Hindi serials has inflated production expenses. “Imitating them, we too are forced to use heavy ornaments and make up. In the past, we had seen many serials reaping success portraying normal life,” she adds. 
However, for another actress, bhakthi serials can be an exception. “It may not be possible for us to make such outstanding soaps here. Their technology and surroundings are different. Also, people will not be hesitant to accept north Indian actors as Gods,” she says.
But K. Gireesh Kumar, fiction head of Mazhavil Manorama, has a different take on it. According to him, dubbed serials haven’t become a trend in Malayalam and it poses no threat to artistes. “Since none of the channels are showing  dubbed serials at prime time, I don’t think there is a crisis in the industry based on this. It can be considered as a crisis if dubbed ones appear on prime time. There are a lot of channels and many serials are being telecast.  Regarding the availability of opportunities, it might depend   on the suitability of an artiste to the character. However, we are not planning to take up dubbed serials as we don’t believe that they have good rating here. Our serials will always promote local talent and they will be  against  the backdrop of our culture,” he assures.
The audience too believes that, barring the bhakthi ones, they won’t go for dubbed serials. “I cannot relate to their culture, and even the way of dressing,” says a woman in her late 60s. But everybody seems to support remakes.
A.M. Nazeer, a hit serial maker, says it is acceptable to do remakes but not dubbed versions. Malayalam soaps too have been remade in other languages. According to him, making a serial requires a lot of labour, passion and innovation. “When I do a serial, I try to make it innovative and to include our artistes to the maximum. I try new locations and ways to help artistes. A serial is a continuous process and we have to meet many criteria. A successful serial is a collective effort. Also, we must follow scientific modes of rating to bring out quality. I create serials for those aged above 60. They have certain interests. And there is always a nostalgic tint to see the muddy road and temples in serials,” he says.