August 19, 2012 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
Whenever there is an audio function at Prasad Labs we see a familiar face mingling confidently with the producers and rest of the film fraternity yet maintaining a quite dignity. She is producer CJ Shobha Rani who buys films from neighbouring States and dubs them for Telugu audiences. Since her father Naidu belonged to the industry she as a child knows what filmmaking is all about.
Shobha Rani says, "We have produced Abbai Premalo Paddadu in 2004 and from 2006 onwards started dubbing movies, so far we have produced 28." Namesake it is called a dubbing film but it looks like a straight one. A lot of effort goes into it to make it look like an original one, she has innumerable discussions with the writers, lyricists, dubbing artists and also if need be changes a part of the story, she never compromises.
She says, "In Rowthiram (Tamil) the heroine dies meaninglessly, so in Roudram we changed it to a positive climax. I keep a track of all the south films Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and also English. We hardly suffered any loss. I follow the Tamil films even while they are in shoot so and have a command over the understanding of the progress, outcome and prospects post release. Not all people can exploit the chances of a film well i.e., not every dubbed film reaches the theatre or the run is assured."
Shobha observes that on the other hand people in Tamil Nadu are conservative and don't watch our films like we do theirs. Telugu people watch Tamil films for novelty but Tamilians don't like our glamour, grandeur and colours, they cannot find it close to their nativity and reality so there is no encouragement. Also media is not co-operative or friendly, their advertsiement rates are too high, and only big production houses can afford to publish an advertsiement like Eega or Businessman.
She avers that the scenario of production cost has changed, earlier one would talk in lakhs now a dubbing film costs two or three crores, i.e., a small budget film and big one anything above ten crores. "It is like making a straight small budget film but the market and craze a Suriya film has here a small straight film doesn't. Our instincts for the most part work right, we were confident about Dasavatharam and it did get us good returns and so was the small film Rathinirvedam. We did good business and could have done better but for people's misconception that it was a sexual film.
Roudram too did well. I can speak Tamil fluentlly and understand Malayalam too. There is competition for dubbing films too, the rest of the producers are Satyanarayana, C. Kalyan, Bellamkonda Suresh, Lakshmi Ganapathi Films, SVR Media, etc. People are wonderful to work with here, may be because they have a soft corner as I am a woman but I never faced any problem. I intend to direct some day."
What are the problems faced by dubbing film producers? Recently Tammareddy Bharadwaja who was elected President of the Film Chamber said he would see that there would be fewer dubbed releases. Shobha explains, "Recently we wanted to release David Billa and faced a simultaneous release of Eega and Julayi which was put off to a later date. Tammareddy is right in feeling that small and straight films are overpowered by dubbing films when it comes to non-availability of theatres.
But there are many other areas Tammareddy needs to concentrate on. Dubbing films saves industry by feeding the theatres, giving employment to posters and publicity people, dubbing artists..Entire industry is taken care of, theatres will shut down if dubbing films are stopped. Andhra Pradesh has the maximum theatres. Billa 2 had people buying tickets for Rs 200 in black. Telugu audiences are first in encouraging different cinema.
I buy and release six films on an average every year. Last year the number of dubbed releases were 30 and in 2012 the number is already 47. All Tamil stars are coming for the audio release functions and to promote their films as their market is growing. Ajith didn't come though."