A play of words

A play of words
Drawing an audience to a movie is the first challenge. The cast is thought to be one of the conventional ways of doing it. But among the many unconventional ways of striking a connect with the audience before the first scene is shown is to come up with a fascinating title. The more attractive the title, the greater is the head-start the movie gains in the market.

A lot of Kannada films have been path-breaking when it comes to their title. Using English titles is one of Sandalwood’s many tried and tested tricks. A few of this year’s English titled films in the Kannada film industry are ‘A Day in the City’, ‘Flop’, ‘Raincoat’, ‘Q’, ‘Melody’, ‘Rebel’, ‘Red Alert’, ‘Luv U Alia’, ‘Dove’, ‘Plus’, ‘Boxer’, ‘The Plan’ and ‘Rocket.’ The new year will also see Kannada films such as ‘Killing Veerappan’, ‘Style King’, ‘U the End A’, ‘Contract’ and ‘Toss’ hitting the screens. 

Film titling is interconnected with the art of filmmaking, graphic design and linguistics and it is hard to sit in judgement about whether other language titles must be used or not when titling a Kannada film, reasons actor and director Yogaraj Bhat. He says, “The trend of using English and other languages when choosing a title is a new trend and I find no harm in doing that because as filmmakers, we must be open to mixing words from other languages,” narrates Yogaraj.

Young director Preetham Gubbi was criticised for using English titles for his Kannada projects. His latest project ‘Boxer’ ran into a lot of trouble for its title but Preetham calls it a filmmaker’s “creative freedom” to be able to borrow from other languages. “Times have changed and we have to focus on catering to the multiplex audience. It is important to choose a title that caters to a large segment. Words like ‘Dil’, as a replacement for ‘Hrudaya’, have been overused and using it again makes the whole process a little monotonous,” reasons Preetham.

Another director who has generously used English titles for most of his Kannada films is director PC Shekar. Talking about why he chose to call his latest project ‘Style King’, Shekar says, “This English title conveys a definite meaning. There are two characters in the film— one has style and the other is a mafia king. I’ve tried to juxtapose the two.” He feels that even in regular conversation, people don’t just speak in Kannada or in Hindi but use a mix of other language words. 

The choice of title for a film is important but it must match with the content and mustn’t be chosen just to grab extra attention, feels a section of the Kannada film industry. Ramesh Aravind has also dabbled with English titles for some of his films like ‘Accident’, for instance.

He feels that one must use English titles in the Kannada film industry not because of a dearth of words but because the title effectively conveys the essence of the story. “The ‘Eraval Pada Kosha’ dictionary of other language words has become a part of Kannada lingo because of its popular and repeated usage over the years. Any language gets enriched when it borrows words from other languages. There’s no harm using English words provided it conveys a definite meaning,” adds Ramesh. Close on the heels of Ramesh Aravind’s reasoning, veteran director Girish Kasaravalli shares that the title is an important aspect but it mustn’t be given more importance than the content of the film. “A film like ‘Bandit Queen’ had an English title but it did exceptionally well. It doesn’t matter if the title is in English or any other language as long as it is good cinema,” shares Girish. 
 
The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) has not laid any restriction on filmmakers using English titles. However, its president Sa Ra Govindu says that he has repeatedly asked Kannada directors to refrain from using English titles as much as they can.

“I have repeatedly asked filmmakers to stay away from using English words for a Kannada film but looks like the trend of using English titles has increased. The idea is to promote and popularise our language. There’s no harm borrowing words from other languages but it shouldn’t be done at the cost of neglecting our own language,” he says.  

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