TALKING FILMS

Who dubbed it better? ‘Deadpool 2’ versus ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

The latest ‘Avengers’ movie beats the ‘merc with a mouth’ hands down.

Deadpool 2 is the latest big-ticket Hollywood movie to have been released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu versions. Following the mammoth successes of Hollywood releases in India – the most recent one, Avengers: Infinity War (2018), grossed over Rs 250 crores – the marketing team behind Deadpool 2 left no stone unturned to make the film appealing to Indian audiences.

Ranveer Singh was roped in to voice the merc with a mouth for the Hindi version. The Hindi trailer featured a host of Indian references, including local quips (“Iski maa ka Saki Naka”) and hat-tips to the headlines (“Main swachta abhiyaan ka fan hoon toh socha kyun na sabka vikaas main hi kar dun”). The Hindi version, however, is a hit-and-miss affair, unlike the near-flawless dub of Avengers: Infinity War.

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Deadpool 2, in Hindi.

The Hindi Avengers: Infinity War, written by Mayur Puri and Abha Jai Prakash, is on point. The story, with several parallel timelines, is communicated perfectly. “Infinity stone” becomes “anant mani” in Hindi. The popular line “I am Groot” is not translated.

The humour in Avengers: Infinity War is adequately communicated to Hindi speakers, especially in the scenes involving Drax. Remember the scene in which Thor lands up in the Guardians’ spaceship and Drax tells a jealous Peter Quill that Thor is not a “dude” but a “man” and that Peter is a “dude”? In Hindi, it becomes: “Banda tu hai, yeh mard hai.”

While in the English version, Thanos mockingly refers to Peter Quill as “the boyfriend” (of his adopted daughter, Gamora), in Hindi, he calls Peter Quill “damad ji”.

At several points in the Hindi version, characters slip into popular Hindi film dialogue (“Keh kar lete hain”, “Kismat kutti cheez hain”), and they work in the context of the scene.

Humour aside, the film has its darker moments involving, among other things, revenge over the killing of siblings (Loki) or loved ones (Gamora), and this opens up space for what in Indian commercial film idiom is known as punch dialogue. The ghee-soaked lines of threats and counter-threats issued between the umpteen heroes and the villain (“Gyaan ka shraanp sirf tumhe hi nahi mila hai”, “Badey totkey jaante ho, jaadugar”) are never laborious translations from the English.

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Avengers: Infinity War, in Hindi.

However, there is a small problem with Avengers: Infinity War that becomes magnified in the case of Deadpool 2.

In a sequence in Avengers: Infinity War, movie buff Spider-Man suggests to Iron Man, Doctor Strange and others to get rid of the villain, Ebony Maw, by taking cues from the climax of James Cameron’s Alien (1986). Moments later, Ebony Maw is blasted out of the spaceship and in the next shot, a frozen Maw floats off in outer space, which is a direct homage to Aliens.

In the Hindi film, Alien becomes Museum Ke Andar Phas Gaya Sikandar, which was the Hindi title with which Night at the Museum (2006) was released in India. The entire fun of the scene goes missing, and that happens a lot in Deadpool 2 as well.

Deadpool 2 is not as strongly plot-driven as Avengers: Infinity War, and its entertainment value comes from its irreverent, R-rated, and often, juvenile humour. Writer Mayank Jain tries to find Indian equivalents for every single pop-culture reference made by Deadpool in the English version, and not all of them stick.

In the original, Deadpool compares the box-office gross of the first movie with that of The Passion of the Christ (2004), another R-rated blockbuster. He notes that though The Passion of the Christ beat Deadpool as the highest-grossing R-rated film in the United States of America, Deadpool beat it back in the overseas market.

In the Hindi version, The Passion of the Christ is replaced by the Baahubali films, and the logic of the dialogue falls apart.

Some solid comedy writing in English, such as when taxi driver Dopinder explains in uncomfortable detail that he wants to be Kirsten Dunst from Interview with the Vampire (1994) to Deadpool who could play Tom Cruise, is ruined in Hindi with an unfunny reference to Tiger Shroff and Baaghi 2 (2018). In another scene, a depressed Deadpool finds hope in his mistaken belief that David Bowie has not died. In the Hindi version, Bowie is replaced with Kishore Kumar, and the joke is wasted.

The English-language Deadpool 2 assumes that its audience is aware of every pop culture reference. The xenophobic treatment of mutants by humans in Deadpool 2, which ties to the X-Men movies and comic books and is referred to in several scenes and lines, appears out of place in the Hindi version. “Sarey hue mutants!”, a snarl by a henchman does not have the same zing as its English counterpart.

Dialogue is the unique selling point of the Deadpool films. In the Hindi version, the comedy works only when it is visual, such as in the case of the anticlimactic death of the X-Force team which would be funny in any language.

To be fair, Deadpool 2 is simply a hard film to translate. It does not have the distinct “Indian-ness” of emotions and character motivations, as Mayur Puri, the Hindi writer of Black Panther had earlier told Scroll.in. Perhaps, this has been reflected in Deadpool 2’s box office in India as well.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.