Subtitles for Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Hindi films

Paan Singh Tomar
MUMBAI: Paan Singh Tomar has opened up a new vista of verbal communication for Hindi cinema. It is the first certified Hindi-language film which carries English subtitles in all the prints sent to every part of the world in India and abroad. Now, Dhulia says he would insist on English subtitles for all his films regardless of where it is being screened.
English subtitles for Hindi films in India? A revolutionary step for Bollywood cinema, since English subtitles are generally reserved for overseas markets.
“But I haven’t made a single typical Mumbai-Bollywood film! My films are set in the Indian heartland. My characters speak regional dialects. So it makes sense for my films to have subtitles. We discovered that subtitles automatically generate a wider audience. When we tried it in Paan Singh Tomar we were not sure it was the right thing to do. But since the characters spoke a dialect that no one followed we went with the unheard-of concept of English subtitles for a Hindi film in India, and it worked. I don’t think Paan Singh Tomar would have been so successful in the metros like Mumbai if it wasn’t for the subtitles,” asserts Dhulia.
For his next film Milan Talkies again Dhulia will insist on English subtitles.
Divulges the director, “It’s again set in a region whose language is not comprehensible to the man in Mumbai or Madras. Milan Talkies is a love story set in Allahabad. I can’t make a love story set in the big city because there’s no point of conflict there. But in small towns of Uttar Pradesh a girl meeting her boyfriend is still a matter of great scandal outrage and social protest.”
While Milan Talkies would be located in Allahabad, Dhulia would be shooting the film in Lucknow also. “Lucknow is a beautiful city. I’d like it to be part of Milan Talkies even if it would mean taking liberties with geography.”
Interestingly Dhulia doesn’t see his cinema as ‘Hindi’.
“There are so  many spoken dialects of Hindi. I’d say my films would be like a Japanese or a Telugu film with English subtitles.”