Hidden hands pulling down DearComrade in Kannada avatar

Vijay Deverakonda-Rashmika starrer is among the first ambitious Telugu films to arrive in a Kannada-dubbed version

Rashmika and Vijay Deverakonda in Dear Comrade. In Bengaluru, the Kannada dubbed version is getting eight shows a day, while the Telugu original is getting about 250.

Vijay Deverakonda-Rashmika Mandanna starrer ‘Dear Comrade’ was released in Karnataka on July 26 in two versions: the original Telugu and the dubbed Kannada.

It ran into controversy as more screens were allotted to Telugu than to Kannada. 

Ganesh Chetan, convenor of Kannada Grahakara Koota, says vested interests in the Kannada film industry are working against Kannada-dubbed films as they fear it might erode their market.

“Though it’s not clear who they are, they make sure that Kannada versions of films do not get enough screens,” he says.

In the recent past, the Tamil-Telugu bilingual film ‘NOTA’ was dubbed into Kannada but was never released. 

Besides covertly blocking Kannada-dubbed films, Ganesh says, cartels are making sure Kannada-dubbed films are not bought by TV channels. 

He says of the 10 dubbed movies released in Karnataka after a six-decade-old informal ban on dubbing was lifted, not even one was bought by TV channels. 

English films dubbed into Hindi and non-Kannada regional languages, however, find screens here, he says.

“The Kannada dubbed version of ‘Dear Comrade’ was given five theatres and eight shows in Bengaluru while the original Telugu got 65 theatres with 250-plus shows,” he says. 

Multiplexes don’t screen dubbed films, says Ratheesha Rathnakara, director at Harivu Creations Pvt Ltd, who brought the Kannada-dubbed version of the Tamil film ‘Commando’. 

“Dubbing was completely banned for a long time. After the ban was lifted, we dubbed the film. We were able to release Commando on 150 single screens across Karnataka and on 10 in Bengaluru. Multiplexes are still not open to dubbed films,” he says. 

Ratheesha says single screens show dubbed films, but they are in remote areas and aren’t maintained well.

“Exhibitors are used to practices for decades and still don’t understand the benefits they can reap from dubbed versions. There is a crowd for it,” he says. 

G Krishnamurthy, who produced Kannada versions of ‘Sathyadev IPS’, ‘Dheera’ and ‘Naanu Nanna Preethi’, says the challenges are many.

“Good theatres are not allotted to dubbed films. The collections at single screens are low as theatre maintenance is poor,” he says.

He suspects exhibitors and members of the Karnataka Film Chamber are behind this game. “Dubbed film producers suffer heavily,” he says.

Barely 30 percent bookings: source

A source says Kamakya cinema, Banashankari, is showing the Kannada-dubbed version of ‘Dear Comrade’ and the booking is about 30 per cent. Industry sources cite various reasons, including rain, for the poor turnout. 

After 60 years

An informal, six-decade-long ban on Kannada-dubbed films was lifted last year thanks to a court ruling. Tamil and Telugu films dubbed into Kannada are only now trickling into Karnataka.

Polyglot Bengaluru

Janardhan Reddy, the distributor of Dear Comrade, says cities like Bengaluru are not too fond of dubbed films. 

“Even when an English film like The Lion King is dubbed into Hindi and other languages, people prefer watching the original,” he says. 

3 theatres for Kannada in Bengaluru

The film is being screened at three theatres in Bengaluru currently: Bharathi Theatre (Peenya), Kamakya Cinema: Banashankari and Sri Venkateshwara Theatre: Kengeri.

‘Film is a disaster’

A distributor of the Kannada and Telugu versions in Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan and Tumkuru says that the film is not doing well because it is not good. 

“‘Baahubali’ was a super movie and all its versions: Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi raised money. The movie’s content matters a lot and this movie is a disaster, which is why it’s a loss here,” he says. 

Love story

Dear Comrade stars Vijay Devarakonda, who shot to fame with Arjun Reddy (remade in Hindi as Kabir Singh), and Rashmika Mandanna. He plays a man who can’t control his anger. Rashmika is a cricket player.

“Cartels work in a way where they cut off supply and claim that there is no demand. They keep claiming there is no demand for Kannada-dubbed films.” 

Ganesh Chetan, Kannada Grahakara Koota

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