Billy 'butchered'
Billy 'butchered'

In more bizarre Bollywood news of our times, Amazon Prime Video India has now decided to dub the critically-acclaimed 'The Boys' show in Hindi, lining up a 'star cast' of actors like Rajkummar Rao, Arjun Kapoor, and Disha Patani in the process. The network released the Hindi trailer on its official YouTube channel on Monday, evidently meaning to pick up more traction among the regional audience.

Fortunately, the internet didn't take too kindly to this blatant celeb-washing (this should be a legit term) that has now held the professional dubbing industry on a chokehold for years. The YouTube comment section was flooded with people displeased with the decision.

"You murdered the whole series. The best thing about the show was Billy Butcher's voice plus accent. And here we have Arjun Kapoor with his irritating tone," noted one user, while another correctly pointed out, "There are much better voice-over actors in India than these celebrities."

Typical hate-comments aside, the hive-mind's laments are explicitly directed towards one single question: Why get Bollywood actors to dub when there is a perfectly fine domestic dubbing industry in India?

To be clear, the issue is not as much with content localisation as it is with the marginalisation of the professional voice actors, veterans in the industry, by opting for stellar celebrity names instead.

The sudden surge in international content entering India's markets means there is also a steady rise in demand to watch it in native languages. Streaming services — both Netflix and Amazon Prime — are spending big on localising their content.

This could only signal a good time for indigenous dubbing artists, if not for the Bollywood gang hijacking every single opportunity, even if that came at a heavy cost.

A few users even harked back to an abhorrent time four years ago when "Varun ‘I can hardly say a line properly’ Dhawan" was roped in to dub as Steve Rogers aka Captain America in Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)'s Civil War movie.

As a 2016 report notes, "Till now, Sanket Mhatre, a veteran of the dubbing industry, who has dubbed for actors like Ryan Reynolds, Matt Damon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was doing Captain America’s voice in every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He also voiced Wade Wilson in the Deadpool movie and he sounded a lot like the real thing."

Mhatre was just one of the many unsung voice artists of India pushed aside by star kids, backed by studio heads, who want to make us believe that bankable celebrities are more talented than trained voice-over professionals.

In an earlier era, the indigenous dubbing industry carried on its shoulder much of the work that hit the market. Much of it was like how anime dub in America is done today - career voice talent, non-celebrities, and character actors providing the voices and the content was sold on pretty much every facet but their celebrity voice talent.

In the West, the celebrity culture, of course, started with the unwitting appearance of Robin Williams in Disney's Aladdin, but India has not reached the tipping point yet. This hellish mirrorhouse landscape, where every other bankable celebrity in Bollywood is being milked for marketing localised content can be entirely amended, if only more reverence than currently at display is put into the art of voice-acting itself.

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Free Press Journal