When Terminator speaks Kannada

‘Dark Fate’ has become an important rallying point for those who want other language films dubbed into Kannada. Its success could have been bigger had the dubbed version released in more theatres in the districts

The latest film in the Terminator franchise, ‘Dark Fate’, has become a crucial point of conversation on dubbing films into Kannada.

After a years-long dry spell where Kannadigas could not access other language films in Kannada, the Terminator series, widely recognised since the 1980s as quintessential Hollywood property, seems to have broken the spell.

“I have seen English movies with subtitles, but I couldn’t understand most of them,” says Srikantha, who was among the many impressed by the quality of the dubbing.
“Or I could not enjoy the visuals because I was concentrating too much on the subtitles,” he says.

“My parents never watch English films. When I told them this film was in Kannada, they were excited. And I didn’t have to explain the movie to them,” Srikantha says.
If the Terminator is to be seen as ushering in an era of dubbed films in Kannada, it is partly thanks to artistes like Sudha Narasimharaju and R J Netra, who lent their voices to the lead characters Sarah Connor and Grace, and were praised by all moviegoers Showtime spoke to.

That is a win for the dubbing artistes in the state, who only used to work for non-Kannada stars in Kannada movies, given the unofficial ban on dubbing into Kannada.
Even as it becomes an important rallying point, ‘Terminator’ stopped from becoming the cultural success it could have been because of a largely city-centric approach to distribution.
20th Century Fox, which produced the film, did not seem to have thought their strategy through for Karnataka.

“The people who see the Kannada dubbed versions are from the interior parts of Karnataka. Not many got to know about a Kannada dubbed version. There hasn’t been much of a promotion. And also, there were problems with distribution. They haven’t released it in many single screens and they hadn’t placed ads in the Kannada newspapers,” says Ganesh Chethan, who fought at the Competition Commission of India for the right of Kannadigas to watch dubbed movies.

And some in the districts who knew about the release of the film were disappointed they couldn’t access it. A Belagavi resident tweeted soon after the film hit the screens: “There Is No Show For “Terminator Kannada” I Think Belgavi Belongs To UP Or Bihar (sic).”

Gopal Krishna, who thought the Kannada Terminator was great, said: “People think Bengaluru-centric. Come out of Bengaluru, think of people sitting in Mandya or Hubli or Dharwad or any B/C centres in any of the districts.”

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