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Conflict of interests and a hope

Conflict of interests and a hope
Highlights

Telugu TV artists and technicians have been agitating for sometime saying dubbing serials from other languages are making them jobless. Similar...

con2Telugu TV artists and technicians have been agitating for sometime saying dubbing serials from other languages are making them jobless. Similar complaint is voiced in case of dubbing films also. On their part, the buyers of such serials, producers of films and exhibitors are concerned with the economics of their business. Of course the 'King Consumer', that is the viewer and the film goer, is simply not bothered with any of these arguments.

He/she is only concerned with its entertainment value. Thus the conflict of interests appears intractable. Yet, as the producers say they are game for a solution and elders of the industry advocate talks, some compromise may hopefully be hammered out in the coming days. The Hans India presents different points of view on the issue.

Good serials have no language

con3I am an ordinary homemaker and an ardent viewer of TV serials. I don't know which our serial is and which one is from other language. Some serials are simply channel turners, they do not appeal to me.

I started watching serials Marmadesam, Rahasyam in Gemini TV during late 1990s. Later on, I became a big fan of Radhika. I was told that they were Tamil serials, dubbed into Telugu. But, I had nothing to do with the information. Whatever Radhika produced under Radar entertainment, I watched it. Her serials used to have a kind of heart-pounding nature of the interesting characters.

I also watch serials in ETV, which are claimed to be our Telugu serials. However, I love serials with a lot of great heart and a certain kind of almost sentimentality. But some serials, claimed to be 'ours', have turned monotonous and losing entertainment values.

In an age of hundreds of TV channels, network programmers, viewers like me are always looking for serials to catch our notice. In recent years, some serials like Punarvivaham, Chinnari Pellikuturu, Chupulu kalisina Shubhavela, Kutumba Gouravam, Chinna Kodalu are grabbing the viewers like me by the shoulders and force us to watch

. It is generally alleged that they are the serials from North India and Mumbai and they are foraying into Telugu satellite channels with their rich production values, which have their roots in the wide national market. Being a viewer, I am not bothered of the afflictions behind the scenes and screens.A The serial must be a procedural show with a little less noise.

(As told to Naresh Nunna)

Ours is business with ethics

con4Television audiences are like a nagging mother in law (NML). They can be very unpredictable and difficult to please. NML has privilege and right to refuse anything that comes from a docile daughter in law. Probably that is why most serials still have saas bahu issues.

Take a Hindustani music concert, and understand the rock show. There is always a gathering which relishes that kind of music. The performers and the organizers can be focused on the content as there is no pressure to churn out something different from the expected kinds.

This is applicable to the classical dance, theatre plays, pub dancing, disk jockeying etc. But when it comes to television audience, one needs to keep in mind the cross section of people, across age groups, income groups, regions, genders etc. How can any creativity cater to such wide audience and how can someone entertain such varied groups?

It's because of these riddles that some standardized formats of singing, drama, dance keep happening as they can't totally go wrong all the time. In other words, television brings and perpetuates not only mediocrity but predictability and stereotypes. This is inevitable as there is TAM, and there are business targets to meet. No other field, no other career is tested as frequently as every week on performance. Hence TV industry people are always under tremendous stress.

Gut feeling, cuing, pulse-- all these help one create and plan. But in all honesty, television, unlike other forms of arts is far less creative as pressure entails that art is compromised. People also get into assembly line production and hence even creativity becomes mechanical.

Though the crux of your 'Focus' is different, I am deliberately keeping away from the topic now, for its delicacy. Chinnari Pelli Kuturu- being telecast at 7 PM has never been perceived as of others' and as a dubbed serial. Letters came pouring in our office to dub the successful serial Hara Hara Mahadeva into other languages, as if it is produced originally in Telugu.

But, we don't take the receptive attitude of the viewers for granted, as we are not ignorant of Mahatma's 'commerce without morality' principle. With the same ethics in business and with our enduring passion for Telugu, we dedicated the prime time- 7.30 PM to 10 PM only to Telugu serials.

Dubbings haveA been age old

con5It is necessary to have a gestaltic outlook to analyse the present crisis and agitation of Telugu television industry from four view- points- 1) from the TV Channels 2) from the TV Artistes 3) from the dubbing artistes, and 4) from the viewers.

The TV channels are having both advantages in dubbing TV serials from other languages, in terms of investment and in viewership. An original TV serial has a production cost ranging from 2 to 5 lakh per episode. As such RS 2 to 5 crore of investment is required for a serial of 100 episodes. It is interesting to note that, the time allotted for serials in a channel is around 6 to 7 hours per day. That means at least 12 to 14 serials per day.

There is a "cut-eye" competition among the TV channels in general and the serials in specials, as their fate is decided by the switch of remote. So, nowadays, they are compelled to invest high amounts on publicity of the serials. Thus the channels are investing a minimum of Rs 24 to 28 lakh per day. And the returns for all the serials are not encouraging too, which is resulting in heavy losses.

In addition, another mechanism called TRP/TAM is there to decide the fate of the serials. So, the channels now are on the tougher ride and tide, due to which, they might have been compelled to go for dubbed serials, which cost 30% of an original serial. The channels found them as the ultimate resort to reduce the costs on one hand and to lessen the burden of production.

Naturally, the option of dubbed serials is resulting in making the Telugu TV artistes and technicians jobless, as there is no such demand for churning out new serials. On the contrary, this trend has created many avenues for dubbing artistes. The curse in respect of performers, had become a boon for dubbing and voice over artistes.

As far as the viewers are concerned, they are least bothered about the origin of the serials, whether they are Telugu or non-Telugu. They are only confined to the story lines. Moreover, these dubbed serials, which are made with high budgets and rich production values are guaranteeing a different feel and also variety in content and culture. However, it is noteworthy that a Telugu original serial like Mogali Rekulu still managed to be at the top in spite of all the invasion of dubbed serials.

Dubbing of content is not a new phenomenon. Since the very beginnings of Doordarshan in 1959 and the advent of Satellite channels in 1995 dubbed serials on par with original Telugu serials has been in vogue. The pioneers of Telugu satellite TV entertainment, GEMINI and ETV have telecast dubbed serials of Tamil like Sudigundaalu, Premi, Rahasyam, Marmadesham, etc. and got great viewership.

After all, dubbing is dubbing! There is no such agitation by the Telugu TV artistes and unions earlier, against these southern dubbed serials. When the TV channels went for Hindi serials, then the question of the survival and sustenance of Telugu TV serials and Teluguness have cropped up onto the forefront, the reasons for which are not clear yet.

We go jobless

con6Dubbing serials on Telugu television is not healthy and those of us who act in Telugu serials are fighting for our rights. As an actor and a viewer, I am not in favour of dubbing serials. There is no doubt that local artistes and producers get immensely affected because of the trend.

There are 15,000 technicians, artistes and 74 serials on air. There are 64 dubbing serials currently on air. You can understand the magnitude of its impact as a majority are jobless simply because a dubbed serial is on air in place of an original serial that could have given them livelihood. Until recently, we had to contend with serials dubbed from Kannada and Tamil and perhaps a few from Malayalam. Now we have competition from Ekta Kapoors as many Hindi serials are being dubbed into Telugu for television channels. Currently, Bade Achche Lagte Hai is on a Telugu TV.

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I agree that their costumes are better; their sets are expensive and hence the quality is also higher compared to local serials. Hindi serials are national and also have international reach. They typically spend around eight to ten lakh per episode. In Andhra Pradesh, Telugu serial makers spend only Rs 30,000 to 40,000 per episode. Our people buy Hindi serials for Rs 20,000 and dub it. It is unfair for people to compare our serials to those serials simply because they are in a different league and have different sensitivities.

We can't blame the audience if they find the dubbed Hindi serials better than local serials. But one cannot deny the fact that it affects us profoundly and many may even shy away from making more serials, thereby sounding bad news for local producers. Culturally also, it affects our next generation as Telugu serials certainly have more native and local content than those serials with cosmopolitan content.

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(As told to Purnima Sriram)

No issues if A dubbed films are banned

con9If the Telugu film industry decides to ban dubbing films, I am game for it. Big shots like Allu Aravind and KS Ramarao produced dubbing ventures before making it big in straight cinema. I was inspired by them and followed the same path. It's just that I'm away from straight films as of now. If the industry stands as one in banning dubbing films, then I will not be the one to shout my allegiance to them. I don't depend on dubbing cinema to earn my bread and butter. Since there is scope for distributing dubbed films over here, I do it.

However, many forget that there are many people in Hyderabad who earn a livelihood on dubbing cinemas and there are junior artistes who lose out on employment because of them. It has its own hits and misses, advantages and disadvantages.

I have been purchasing films like 'Shopping Mall', 'Journey', 'Premalo Padithe', 'Pizza' and 'Crazy' for under Rs 1 crore. Some Tamil producers look down upon Telugu cinema as they make films under Rs 30- 40 lakh and charge Rs 2 crore as Telugu dubbing rights which is absurd.

For me, everything boils down to presenting a good cinema to Telugu people. I've distributed films which were not made here and which have done exceedingly well at Tamil Nadu box-office. 'Premalo Padithe' and 'Pizza' have received awards nationally and globally. I doubt whether our filmmakers can ever churn out such films. Commercial perspective was never my agenda to release non-local cinema.

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Having said that, I must say I am in favour of local cinema dominating our screens. However, I feel that straight films alone can't feed every theatre. Canteen owners and parking lot owners who decide on how many days a film will run nowadays are least bothered about whether it is a straight cinema or a dubbed one. To them, good cinema and hit cinema matters.

Compared to 2011, the number of dubbing films has come down drastically in 2012 and in the present year. This could be because of the number of films being made in Tollywood. As stars decided to have at least two releases in a year besides the increase of production activities, our films would occupy theatres and won't leave much scope or space for dubbing films.

By the way, I will soon be producing a Telugu film. I wanted people to get a feel of SK Pictures and since they have got it, I will be making a straight film in the days to come. The film will not just satisfy my taste, it will cater to the audience liking too.

(As told to Nagaraj Goud)

Tirade not based on facts

con11It is just a myth that dubbed films pose a threat to straight films. Big ticket Telugu films occupy more theatres during their release and pose threat to small-budget films. In fact, the effort behind making a dubbed film is as much as in making a straight language film. Like a straight film, producer of dubbed films also need to hold discussions with lyricists, dialogue writers and dubbing artistes to match with the original version. One also needs to put in extra effort if we feel the climax or certain parts of the story need some changes in order to bring in local flavour to a dubbed film. Except for the shooting part, the work necessary for the rest of the elements is a much as a straight film.

Since most of the straight-films are being shot in foreign locales, local junior artistes and new technicians are losing out. Big productions are hiring foreign artistes, dancers and stuntmen. Dubbed films, on the other hand, employ many sections of people just like small-budget films.

con12There is no doubt that dubbed films pay a vital role in running of theatres and most of exhibitors and distributors bag profits through this kind of films. It's impossible to run theatres without dubbing films as Telugu film Industry can't produce such number of straight-films. People who protest against dubbed films often cite the example of Kannada film industry which banned dubbed movies and is still doing well. But there are huge differences between Telugu film industry and Kannada filmdom.

Tollywood has come a long way and is on par with Bollywood and Hollywood. The market for Telugu films is big. The budget of a small-ticket Telugu film is around Rs 8 to 10 crore unlike Kannada films whose small-budget film varies about Rs 2 to 3 crore. Our big-ticket films vary around Rs 30 to 50 crore which is four to five times bigger than big-budget Kannada films. Telugu film Industry is big and should not get restricted.

Most of the theatres these days are being shut down and turned into function halls. Only dubbed-films can save and pull them out of danger. Hence, it's not fair or possible to ban dubbed films.A Dubbed films also have huge fans. Believe it or not, Telugu audiences are even ready to buy tickets in black to watch their favourite stars like Suriya, Ajith and Vijay and are not bothered whether it is a dubbed or straight film. So, people who speak against dubbed films should consider all these options and mull over various issues.

(As told to Sandeep Atreysa)

Local shows should get priority

con13I feel that local artistes and telefilms should get top priority compared to artistes and serials from other states. However, that does not mean we should totally ban them because art has no boundaries. I don't know the exact number of dubbed serials but it certainly should not outnumber the local productions. There is a need to evaluate this as the welfare or local artistes and technicians depend on this. I think both the parties should hold discussions and try to resolve the issue amicably.

However, one cannot apply the same rules to films, as it is a different story. Undeniably, films have wider reach compared to television shows. As I said before, art has no borders and should reach various corners of the country. Language should not be used to discriminate art. At the end of the day, I think one should also respect and cater to the taste of certain audience who would like to watch different kinds of cinemas or serials.

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