Monday, April 18, 2011

On Movies and English

I have been watching a lot of movies lately. Not that I was not watching them earlier, it is just that I have gotten more into it than before. Earlier, I used to be the Parthiv Patel of movies. Now I am the Brendon McCullum of movies. Not yet Sachin Tendulkar, but getting there. A majority of the movies I watch are from Hollywood, featuring the big names, the household names, the soon to be big names or just names. Sometimes, people tickle me that I do not watch enough Indian movies and thus miss out on a lot of fun and frolic. The fact is that I speak two languages of which only one is native to India. I have watched most of the good Mallu movies and quite a few bad ones as well. Just for kicks. The other language I am fluent in happens to be English and not Tamil, Telugu, Hindi or Bhojpuri, thus restricting my choice of movies. People say that the visual media has a language of its own and one should watch movies of different languages even though you understand just about nothing. The problem is that enjoying the dialogues is an integral part of any movie watching experience. It is only then that one gets to know the nuances and the intricacies of the movie. Plus, one can understand only the bare skeletal structure of the story by just watching the scenes of a movie. These days, all movies seem to have the same structure. It is only good dialogues that make them enjoyable.

One fact that continues to amaze me is the lack of bilingual movies in India. With a population of 1.21 billion and a few thousand languages, it might seem very profitable to have two languages in your movie and thus draw double the crowd. Or maybe, perhaps if you take a movie in Tamil and Hindi, the Tamil audience might think it is a Hindi movie and move it while the Hindi junta would call it a Madrasville production and sweep it under the carpet. Perhaps, making a bilingual movie is the perfect way for a producer to go the dogs.

Personally though, I would love it someone made a bilingual movie with the two languages I know- English and Mallu. Now let us be clear here. When I say bilingual movie, I mean a movie in which actors can speak both languages with at least as much finesse and fluency as I can. Instead, if the fare to be put on show involves Lalu Alex spitting out English dialogues which sound as if they were written by Britain’s P.E No.1, I am outta here. Too many movies have gone by with someone or the other taking a hacksaw and chopping the language I love into six. English dialogues in the Mallu movie industry is pretty much like school in July- no class. Of what I have seen, very few people in the Mallu movie industry speak good English. It has reached such a situation that sometimes I pray people in movies do not venture into English dialogues. Yet, once in a while, they do.

May be it is the unfamiliarity with the language, but the dialogues in English are clich├ęs, grammatically incorrect and outright bad. I am perfectly sure there are opportunities open for a part-time English dialogue writer in Mollywood and I am prepared to jump for it. At least then, the Suresh Gopis and the Prithvirajs can shout out decent dialogues, dialogues that do not sound like they came from a remote corner of an elementary school.

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