MUMBAI: My Name is Khan has made cinema history by becoming the first ever Bollywood film to be released in cinemas with audio description (AD). Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) worked with 20th Century Fox to achieve this milestone after its research among blind or partially sighted people of Asian origin found that over 55 per cent of respondents were more likely to watch Bollywood films if AD was provided.
AD is as important to blind and partially sighted people as subtitles are to those with hearing problems. It is an additional narration that fits between passages of dialogue to describe action sequences, body language, costume and scenery, allowing the viewer to understand exactly what is happening on screen. My Name is Khan is also the first film to feature AD in Hindi, the language of the film.
Twentieth Century Fox executive director Martin Bromfield says, "20th Century Fox is proud to offer, for the first time ever, a Hindi AD track on ‘My Name is Khan’. English speaking AD has been available on all our films for some time now, so we felt it was natural to progress and offer Hindi AD on our first collaboration with Bollywood. With help from RNIB and Deluxe Digital Studios we worked hard to create an English audio descriptive track, which was then translated before being recorded by a Hindi speaking audio describer, in time for the second week of release."
RNIB director Inclusive Society Fazilet Hadi says, "Around 700 films are produced by Bollywood every year, and our research tells us that blind and partially sighted fans want AD on these films. So we’re delighted that Fox have worked with us to allow blind and partially sighted people to enjoy this much-anticipated release along with their sighted family and friends. We hope other studios will follow Fox’s lead making My Name is Khan the first of many audio described Bollywood films."
My Name is Khan from Fox Star Studios and 20th Century Fox is directed by Karan Johar and stars Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. It opened in the UK on 11 February and was made available with English AD and subtitles and Hindi AD in cinemas from 19 February. Cineworld and Vue cinemas have confirmed they are using the Hindi AD.
RNIB’s campaign for AD has resulted in more than 300 cinemas in the UK equipped with systems to facilitate it, and the majority of Hollywood and UK films released in this country have an AD track on them. Many DVDs also include AD on mainstream UK releases.