Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Giving The English Version

Vivek Ranjit has been doing the English sub-titling of most of the recent Mollywood hits like 'Charlie', 'Action Hero Biju' and 'Kali'. He talks about his experiences 

Photo by K. Shijith 

By Shevlin Sebastian

On April 7, Vivek Ranjit wrote on his Facebook wall: ‘From tomorrow, a beautiful family drama, ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam’ (Jacob's Kingdom of Heaven), will be releasing. May this adorable Kingdom of Heaven be the winner of this season. So glad I could also be a small part of it by subtitling it’.

A day later, there was a response from Abhishek Sreekumar, a Chennai-based content writer: 'You are doing a fab job. People know you by name. You are uplifting the quality of meaningful cinema. Keep up the good work.'

Last month, Mollywood star Dulquer Salman wrote on his Twitter feed: 'So glad you are a part of our films and improving our reach'.

The Kochi-based Vivek is developing a reputation of being a good sub-titler. All the recent movies that he has done, like 'Charlie', 'Action Hero Biju', and 'Kali' have done well outside Kerala. “In fact, Dulquer [‘Charlie’] and Nivin Pauly [‘Action Hero’] have a huge fan following in places like Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai,” says Vivek. “There is a big demand among young non-Malayalis to see Malayalam films. I believe one of the reasons is the sub-titling.”

Earlier, Vivek had to force his Chennai friends to watch DVDs of Malayalam movies. Now they are all going to the theatre.

Usually, Vivek gets the film a month before the release. He views it in a home theatre, and starts sub-titling it. “It is not always a literal translation,” says Vivek. “I aim to be simple and clear. With minimum words, you have to communicate the maximum. The viewer usually sees the image, then reads the dialogue, and waits for the reply from the other character. So there is little time.”

Normally, people take about one-and-a-half seconds to read a dialogue, and about three seconds if it a longer one. If it is a speech, the sentences will spill over to the next frame.

Following the completion of his work, he sends it by mail to the film's editor, who will then upload it, along with the video and sound file, on a digital platform like Qube. Cinema owners then download it, using a given user name and password, to their respective theatres.

Vivek is happy that Mollywood is changing its attitude towards sub-titling. “Earlier, people never took it seriously,” he says. “But now they feel that they can expand their market and make good money.”

Dulquer, in another tweet, aimed at Vivek, wrote, 'Love that subtitling is becoming popular in our films. I have always dreamed of this and releasing our films nation-wide. Rock on.'

Meanwhile, Vivek has another dream. He wants to sub-title the classics. “Again, this will make it attractive to non-Malayalis, who have no idea of our rich tradition of making beautiful films,” he says. With this end in mind, Vivek has approached a few television channels to offer his services. Most of them have a platform on You Tube where they screen old movies.

As for his future plans, Vivek, who was part of a three-member team that had written the script for the 2013 Malayalam movie, ‘Kili Poyi’, wants to become a director one day. “I am learning from my interactions with writers and film-makers,” says Vivek, who is busy doing the sub-titles of veteran director Ranjith's much-awaited, 'Leela'. 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)

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