Bhatt is a happy man!
2001, the 50-year old gave up a secure job in State
Bank of India for a career in dubbing.
that time, it looked quite a gamble: the switch from
one of the country's top financial institutions to
something which has an uncertain entertainment industry
piggybacking it. There were many who wanted to correct
as I speak to Bhatt, his ten year old kid proudly
lists out names of the characters Bhatt lends his
voice to: Beakman, Batman, James of the Pokemon
series, Samurai Jack, Uncle in the Jackie Chan
the list goes on.
Bhatt, the timing was right. This period saw international
players including Discovery, The History Channel and
National Geographical Channel entering the Indian
market. Then, Walt Disney's arrival in three Indian
languages has ensured lot of work from the kids' channel
segment. We have many more international networks
knocking the door as well in approximately Rs. 150
million TV language dubbing industry.
per industry estimates, the total dubbed content was
of approximately 2,400 hours in the 2003 fiscal. In
the current fiscal, Disney alone has 1800 episodes
of dubbed content in Telugu and an equal number in
Tamil. The channel has already dubbed 1650 episodes
of content in Hindi. Taking all the other players
into account, the growth pattern definitely shows
an upward curve.
volume of dubbed content in all segments including
broadcasting has gone up. English to Hindi dubbing
has gone up over the last two years," says UTV
Post Production and Dubbing GM Indranil Ghosh.
vendors are riding on this wave. UTV, which has a
dubbing business primarily caters to movies,
television serials, documentaries and animation
films. Walt Disney, Discovery, Star TV, Nickelodeon,
National Geographic Channel (NGC) and The History
Channel figure in its clientele. UTV is offering
dubbing services to the Walt Disney channels
in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu for serials and feature
films. According to the agreement with NGC Networks
Asia, UTV's services include translation and
transcription of the original English scripts
into Hindi and Tamil for both dialogues and
lyrics and also for dubbing.
business unit, recorded a volume of 733 hours in this
period. In the quarter ended December 2004, the company
has done 461 hours of dubbing.
leading dubbing vendors include VGP, En Sync, Mainframe
and Sound & Vision. The boom has given birth to
a large number of dubbing organisations, big and small.
There are at least 25 small outfits in Mumbai itself.
Industry experts find it difficult to give an accurate
assessment of the size of the market because of the
is a very fragmented market. Apart from a handful
of big players, we have many smaller players to take
into account," says Ghosh.
analysts value the market size at an approximate Rs.
150 million with UTV in the lead. The company earned
Rs. 34 million from dubbing in the 2003 fiscal and
has already touched 24 million for the six months
period ended 30 September 2004.
which is present in India since 1999, launched its
dubbed Hindi programmes last year. From May 2004,
the channel started airing 18.5 hours of its daily
programming in Hindi. UTV's Hungama TV has recently
acquired a host of new Japanese and French animated
Disney's full-fledged entry with a lot of dubbed content,
competition has heated up on language dubbing. The
effort is now to put up a strong dubbed content library,"
reasons Mainframe Software Communications head Ellie
Lewis. Mainframe's clients include Disney, Warner
Brothers and HMV Saregama.
Network and Pogo have been making all its programming
available in Hindi in the Northern and Western parts
of India. Cartoon Network has already got a strong
dubbed library since they had been dubbing content
to Hindi since the last six years.
part of our localisation strategy, Cartoon Network
began enhancing its Hindi dubbed programming on-air
from 2001. Since then, all the Hindi comprehending
parts of the country enjoy Cartoon Network programming
in Hindi," says Turner International India MD
is not only kids' channels which have resorted to
dubbing for market penetration. It also include The
History Channel, National Geographic Networks Asia
which dubs it international content to Hindi and Tamil
and Discovery Channel which dubs to Hindi. Among Hindi
channels, apart from general entertainment channels
which have dubbed programme slots, we have Hindi movie
channels Set Max and Star Gold dubbing Hollywood movies
South we have Star Vijay, Jaya TV, KTV, Teja TV and
Kiran TV exploring the potential of dubbed Hollywood
movies. The mythological genre has also been making
its contributions. Production house Creative Eye has
dubbed its popular mythological shows Om Namah Shivay
and Shree Ganesh in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. The
two shows together put up a volume of 354 hours of
dubbed content in each language.
says in the regional sector, South is the biggest
consumer of dubbed content. "There, dubbing happens
mainly in Tamil and Telugu. Hindi and English get
dubbed into Southern languages. Other than that, most
of the market is concentrated in Delhi and Mumbai,"
analysts sight the lack of tough entry barriers as
there are lads of software and hardwares used
for dubbing and music recording, but there are
2 softwares that stand out.
1) Pro Tools (runs on a Mac & PC)
2) Nuendo (runs on PC)
of these are freely and widely available in
India. Pro tools is the more sought after while
Nuendo is more for home or small/cheaper setups.
use Protools or Nuendo with a combinations of
analog or digital mixers and beta recorders
and players. These are the most commonly used
technology in the country today. En Sync uses
Pro tools in mumbai and Nuendo in Chennai.
for such a fragmented market. The convenience of outsourcing
the infrastructure in cheaper rates makes it easy
to launch a dubbing outfit.
you are really smart, you won't need a single penny
as investments. You approach international clients
who give you up to 45 per cent payments in advance.
And you roll back the balance amount," says En
Sync head Ashwin Saksena.
studio rent ranges from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 5,00,000
depending on quality. And if you want to set up your
own equipments instead of outsourcing the infrastructure,
then equipment costs will be approximately Rs. 8,00,000
and then real estate and other miscellaneous costs
have to be taken into account. Ghosh says a full-fledged
state-of-the art dubbing set up may cost up to Rs.
easy availability of dubbing vendors is actually de-activating
the boom effect in terms of money. The theory "more
work and so more money" doesn't really apply
here. The congestion has eventually brought down the
competition is taking rates down. A lot of undercutting
is happening in the industry," points out Sound
& Vision president Leela Roy Ghosh.
experts opine that, even in this fragmented scenario,
bigger players are not looking at consolidation by
acquiring smaller players because they have their
are not threatened by the smaller players at all.
They take bulk of the deals happening. Big networks
prefer corporate level players like UTV. The small
players make it big by improving their standards or
just disappear in the long run," says Saksena.
from a dubbing assignment depend on various factors
including number of character and number of episodes.
Rates differ from channel to channel and it also depends
on the budget allocated. "The cost differs from
project to project based on the kind of execution,"
says Leela Roy Ghosh.
estimates put the dubbing cost for a one hour TV programme
in the range of Rs. 45,000 and Rs. 55,000. Dubbing
cost of TV movies ranges from Rs. 75,000 to Rs. 1,00,000.
VCD/DVD dubbing of English movies to Hindi costs up
to Rs 1,00,000 while the dubbing cost of an English
movie for theatre stands in the region of Rs. 3,50,000
to Rs. 6,00,000.
finds the pricing levels of both episode dubbing and
film dubbing equally lucrative. The ratio UTV recorded
between episode dubbing and film dubbing in the last
fiscal was 65:35. Ghosh says there is an increase
in episode assignments.
have gone up. This is because volume of broadcasting
work went up," he says.
D'costa prefers episodes to films. "Work from
serials is consistent. Films are sporadic," he
to industry analysts, the charges get reduced up to
50 per cent when broadcasters get into bulk deals
with dubbing vendors. But in the case of movies, bulk
deals happen very rarely.
channel may be acquiring 50 Hollywood movies a year,
but it won't know what title is reaching them in what
time. So channels can't commit," says Saksena
whose En Sync has Star Gold in its clientele.
feels the channels hold an edge in the bargain game.
"Some occasions, they won't be ready to pay more
than Rs. 1,00,000 even if it is a one hour movie or
a two and a half hours movie. Normally vendors don't
bargain much. If you can prove your worth by excelling
your job, you can demand a premium of up to 15 per
cent," he says.
Sun TV and Vijay TV get their Hollywood flicks dubbed
from dubbing vendors, Jaya TV directly acquires dubbed
versions of Hollywood movies from agents.
buy it in bulk, about 30 movies at a time. This saves
time and cost," says business head Balaswaminathan.
Does the quality suffer?
dubbing artist from Mumbai, Pushpa Saksena feels the
quality of dubbing depend upon the budget allocated
to an extent. She says low budgets affect the vendor's
capability to hire quality professionals.
the budget prevents dubbing vendors from having quality
dubbing artists, they compromise for average artists
who will naturally charge less. So the quality will
be missing," she says.
the budgets are low. The client knows that vendors
work at any cost. But finally, it's the client who
is using the final product which may not be up to
the mark. He accepts it because he has no knowledge
of what a good dub is all about. All he cares is that
he is getting it in his budget and people are watching
it," says Lewis.
don't think that the issue of doing inferior quality
to save cost is correct at all," defends UTV's
Ghosh. "In fact we have the highest of quality
checks both at the client level as well as at internal
levels to ensure that we deliver top quality work.
Our clients; who are mostly international have international
benchmarks which we need to adhere to."
while denying this trend, insist that the dubbing
quality is ensured through expert quality checks.
"We have quality control in place. Apart from
voice, this takes care of expression and mixing,"
says Nick India director business & operations
Saksena, who puts Disney on a high pedestal as the
most quality conscious channel, speaks about the need
for a standard rate card for dubbing artists. She
says the Mumbai-based Association of Voice Artists
(AVA) is currently looking at launching such a system.
studio: another view
organisations having in-house studio facility normally
keeps sound recordists and script writers in their
pay rolls. Dubbing artists are available in the market
on freelance basis. The present payment structure
for dubbing artists depends upon seniority and expertise.
It starts at Rs. 200 and ends in the region of Rs.
2000 for a half-an-hour episode.
says the pay was better earlier. "In 1993 my
seniors used to earn Rs. 3500 for a 30 minutes assignment.
We are doing the same work for a lesser amount now,"
as a career
dubbing, who is common in the international arena,
is making its presence felt in India now. Mainframe
had Shahrukh Khan dubbing for Disney's The Incredibles
recently. Salman Khan was supposed to dub Hanuman
for an animation movie, but later the assignment went
to Mukesh Khanna.
Ghosh agrees that it is tough to get good dubbing
artists. She says, though there is a lack of good
training institutes, dubbing as a career is opening
aspirants will have to learn on the job since there
are not many training institutes around. We do encourage
people who approach us. People aspiring to be actors
also turn to this field," she says.
keeps having auditions for different types of voice.
"We add the suitable ones to our talent bank,"
says Indranil Ghosh.
is pursued as a part-time career as well. 23-year
old Saumya Daan, who has Spiderman and Archies to
his credit, works as a customer service assistant
with Jet Airways. "The working schedule in dubbing
is really flexible. So I am able to devote my spare
time to dubbing," he says.
points out the lack of pure Hindi speaking voice over.
"While I was in UTV, we actually moved dubbing
to Delhi in search of pure Hindi speaking people."
also stresses on the need for scriptwriters who knows
how to employ the local lingo as and when the context
demands it. "Most of the time people used to
just translate. Now there is demand for transcreation."
finds the future of language dubbing in India unpredictable.
"People might get fed up of dubbed programmes.
Anything can happen."
feels foreign content will be the key for the industry's
survival. "Opporunity lies in foreign content.
More work will come from production houses abroad
or broadcasting companies abroad."
is upbeat. He feels that with India having low English
literacy levels, foreign channels have to localise
their content and do a lot of language dubbing. "International
players will have to rely on language dubbing for
better market penetration. So the industry is here
the question of consolidation comes into focus. The
easy availability of service helps the clients to
dominate the bargaining. Thus, the rates go haywire
in spite of the heavy workload. This diminishes the
financial status of a growing market. In the long
run, this might lead to the formation of an unsophisticated
and fragile industry. Buying out the smaller players
will be one practical solution before the established
players to avoid any such complications.
studio pix by Vickey Ahuja