Also, it is becoming the second highest grosser in Malayalam after Puli Murugan with its dubbed version earning over Rs 50 crore already at the box office. Post the huge success of Dangal in China (expected to earn over $80 million or Rs 500 crore), Baahubali 2 may be dubbed and released there and one can expect similar collections.
The concept of dubbing a film from its original language through lip-sync began in India with a Tamil film Harischandra (1943) by legendary producer AV Meiyappan (AVM). Originally in Kannada, the idea of dubbing in Tamil arose accidentally to his team. Since then, there has been no looking back for exploiting a film through dubbing. Today, Tamil films are dubbed in Telugu and Hindi. Baahubali 2, a Tamil-Telugu bilingual was dubbed and released simultaneously in Hindi and Malayalam, the first film to achieve this. Hollywood films followed the success of Indian films and today, most big budget films are being released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu (dubbed versions). This helped The Jungle Book to become the highest collecting Hollywood film (Rs 250 crore) in India, in which the dubbed versions (in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu) earned over Rs 100 crore.
Telugu dubbing of Tamil films: There is a market for Telugu- dubbed content when it has a big artiste or a universal and relatable subject. The artistes who built a strong Telugu-dubbed market are Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Suriya, Vikram, Karthi, Lawrence and Vishal. Realising the potential, Sivakarthikeyan tried to establish his market and did wonderful marketing for Remo last year. Vijay Antony got a good appeal there, post the success of Pichaikkaran. Though huge in Tamil, both Vijay and Ajith have a smaller Telugu-dubbing market and hence their films are mostly being remade there; recent examples being, the remake of Veeram and soon, Vedalam. Examples of Tamil films with big heroes which did huge business in Telugu dubbing include: Enthiran, Sivaji, Anniyan, Dasa vatharam, Vishwaroopam, Chan dramukhi, Ghajini, the Singam series, Paiyya, Ayirathil Oruvan, Sandakozhi, Thimiru, Ko, Kancha na and Muni.
Examples of strong concept-based but universal subjects that worked well in Telugu dubbing were, Kaadhal, Engeyum Eppod hum, Angadi Theru, Pizza, Vazhak ku Enn: 18/9 and Pichaikkaran. Malayalam dubbing of Tamil films: As Keralaites easily understand Tamil, there is no dubbing market for Tamil films and hence, are released directly. However, Telugu films are being dubbed in Malayalam, the recent blockbuster being Baahubali 2.
Tamil to Hindi: With multiple satellite channels and digital online companies vying for commercial content with top heroes, the market for Tamil films dubbed in Hindi has expanded. The Hindi dubbing rights of Rajini’s Kabali was sold for a record price, Vijay’s forthcoming film with Director Atlee is estimated to have been sold for over Rs 10 crore and satellite rights of Ajith’s Vivegam reported to have been sold for over Rs 7 crore. This opportunity is available for either big artiste films or action packed, horror and thriller films, which producers must make use of.
Tamil to Kannada: This is one market, which cannot be cracked, as Kannada film industry does not encourage dubbed content. Though an attempt was made to dub in Kannada and release Ajith’s Yennai Arindhal as Sathyadev IPS, it was not fruitful due to severe opposition.
Net, dubbing rights can be exploited in Hindi and Telugu (and ambitiously in Chinese too) if the content has a big star or is based on a good concept or a universal subject. Nativity, artistic and realistic subjects have no scope through dubbing in Telugu and Hindi, which must be kept in mind by producers and filmmakers. The dubbing market is growing in many languages and must be exploited to earn more out of the original film.
— The writer is Founder-Dean of BOFTA Film Institute in Chennai