Konkanifying Hollywood Movies
By Cecil Pinto
The lovely month of February is upon us. Valentine Day, Carnival, Shigmo, Urrack... The nightmare crowds of the IFFI and the Exposition are things of the past, and the distant future. The dastardly Goa Liberation VCD will soon be consigned to the rubbish bin of history. Soon we will be back to normal, discussing standard fare such as helmets, corruption, potholed roads and the dreaded 'outsiders'. At least that's what I thought...
Yesterday I met my friend Michael D'Costa, the entrepreneur whose idea of supplying interesting wedding guests on demand took off splendidly. Not one to relax and enjoy success gracefully, Michael, I knew, would be up to some unique new scheme pretty soon. Sure enough. Within seconds of meeting we were seated sipping chilled beer at the nearest bar and Michael was enthusiastically describing his latest business idea. Dubbing English movies in Konkani.
"What?!! Michael you've surely flipped your lid this time"
"Why not maan? They're dubbing movies in every bloody language. Why not amchi Konkani?"
"But Michael, where is the audience? As it is English movies run to almost empty theatres here in Goa. Who's going to watch Hollywood movies dubbed in Konkani?"
"Audience doesn't matter yaar!"
"What? Don't you have to recover your costs?"
"I will. The Government will pay me to get the movies dubbed. They're subsidising INOX, that's showing movies to nearly empty halls. They're supporting third rate Konkani movies made by amateur first time directors.
Movies that nobody's going to see or remember anyway. You see since Konkani is the Official Language they have to pay me, even if nobody comes to see the dubbed films. I had initially thought of subtitling, instead of dubbing, in Konkani but they insisted on the Devnagri script. And you know how bad my Devnagri is. Since SSC I've not written a single word in Devnagri. I can't even remember the basic numbers. That's why I use taxis in Mumbai. Can't figure out the bloody BEST bus numbers!"
"But won't you have difficulty with the Hindu Konkani accent being
different from the Christian Konkani accent and the North Goan Konkani being different from the South Goan Konkani and Portuguese and Marathi words and ..."
"No big deal buddy. See the original English films had different accents and colourful language anyway so I have a certain degree of artistic liberty. As long as the audience understands the dialogue. Since I'm not expecting an audience anyway, I don't foresee any problems!"
"I presume you will be hiring local Tiatr and Natak artistes"
"Actually I'm hiring people with interesting voices. Experience doesn't matter. The well known names are making what strange demands maan! Prince Jacob wants to do all the voices in the film - male and female, young and old. Hema Sardesai wants her dance troupe to accompany her into the dubbing studio. How will they, and she fit in my small studio? Premanand Lotlikar refuses to wear anything that covers his ears, helmets or headphones. Remo feels that films are not as important as hospitals and so he wants all his payment to go to charity, like he did with the 6 lakhs he was paid to perform at the IFFI closing ceremony. I wonder which charities benefited and by how much? And why music and songs are important and films are not?"
"I think you're digressing Micheal. But I get the point. So how are you going about identifying good voices among the public?"
"I'm watching a lot of local Goan TV. Goa365, Goa NewsLine, Goa Plus...."
"Found anyone particularly interesting so far?"
"Well Parrikar seems perfect for the voice of that arrogant Peter O Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. Dr. Willy's slow and thick speech could go down well as Sidney Poitier in The Heat of The Night. And nobody could do the charismatic role of Susan Sarandon, as the nun in Dead Man Walking, better than the elegant and charitable Mrs. Rane. We tried to get the firebrand Gomantak Times' editor Sujay Gupta to voice Sean Penn for Dead Man Walking.
Seemed an ideal choice with the risks he's taking by exposing all the corruption in the Government. But Sujay says he's not about to play dead so soon. A long and fiery life to him! Tara Kerkar from Vasco has the perfect voice for Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady - but only for the section before Eliza gets transformed into a proper young lady. Babush Monserrate's softspoken understated voice comes across as perfect for the menacing Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. By the way I've noticed that girls from South Goa speak beautiful Konkani in normal life but they put on such a horrible contrived English accent when faced with a mike that I cannot use them."
"Which movies are you currently dubbing?"
"We've started of with only Oscar winners. Poilo-Dusro ani Tisro Podon, Varyan Ublem, Chondriman Fanfudlo, Bailecho Vas, Kollean Borabor Nach, Sadhe Lok, Dockyar, Dhovem Ghor, Modyanir Gai Bhurgo, Xelliamchem Ogeaponn, Mhoji Gori Ostori, Pavsa Munis, Choltem Modem, Ratche Gorment, Arabi Lorso, Khodpi and Bhangra Tollier"
"Godfather Part 1, 2 and 3, Gone with the Wind, MoonStruck, Scent of a Woman, Dances with Wolves, Ordinary People, On the Waterfront, Casa Blanca, Midnight Cowboy, Silence of the Lambs, My Fair Lady, Rain Man, Dead Man Walking, In the Heat of the Night, Lawrence of Arabia, Rocky and On Golden Pond,
"Oh! Now I see. Best of luck Micheal. I wish you well in your new venture.
I would love to be present at the dubbing studio someday to write about the process."
"Sure. I'll let you know the next time we're recording. Thanks for the encouragement. My only problem is going to be getting past the Screening Committee that's been set up to check the translated script for factual inaccuracies or communal leanings."
"Who all are on the committee?"
"Mostly RSS members and Freedom Fighters"
"Then you will have no problem!"
The column above appeared in the February 2005 issue of Goa Today magazine.