Dialogues did the trick for the movie. For instance, Jai Courtney’s character who plays Bruce Willis’s son in the film points to the villains and says, “Apni sadhiyan bandookan nu thalle rakho” (keep your guns down). Or when Willis turns to his son and says, “main sochda si tu hi bigdi aulaad hai” (and I thought you were the spoilt one!”). The villain gets the best ones, like when he’s asked to drop the weapons and he retorts, “kyun tere hathan ch mehndi laggi hai” (do you have henna on your hands?), or when he wants an elderly guy dead, “iss buddhe di phatti poch do” (kill this old man). Willis’s one-liners too are memorable, like swad aa gaya (enjoyed), rabba (God), and malko (boss).
Although the movie is a big pull for those who like Hollywood action flicks but can’t understand, it’s still a shock to hear Willis mouth dialogues in Punjabi. The only saving grace, agrees singer-actor Gippy Grewal who dubbed in Punjabi for Jai’s character, is that such films, especially Willis’s, have more action and little dialogue.
As Die Hard 5 released this Friday, in English, Tamil and Telugu, it saw a simultaneous release in Punjabi too, an official first for the Punjabi film industry. Till now, all the audiences were being treated to documentaries and English television programming with an option of viewing it in Punjabi. However, viewers and netizens would tune into the endless Punjabi dubbed versions of Hollywood flicks like Shanghai Knights, Mr Bean, Spiderman, Baby’s Day Out, 300, Dumb & Dumber, The Mask, Welcome to the Jungle which are available on the net, and audio-video sites like youtube.com. Mostly dubbed from Pakistan in Punjabi, these are mind-numbingly hilarious, laced with local jokes and crass comments.
“It’s because the industry does not take professionals on board. Dubbing is an art and requires actors to emote, to convey the core of the film,” points out Punjabi film producer J S Cheema. According to him, expressions and creative inputs are missing in Punjabi versions of films as budgets are low. “So they end up sounding false,” he says.
Presenting an original piece of work in its dubbed avatar can be a tricky proposition. What sounds romantic in English may sound like a reprimand in any South Indian or Oriental language. Similarly, what sounds serious in English may come across as sarcastic in Punjabi. Which is why English films dubbed in Punjabi run the risk of turning into a two-hour joke factory — something Grewal is against and made it clear before signing up as the voice of Hollywood actor Jai Courtney for Fox Star Studios. “I took the dubbing assignment only on one condition — the film should not sound caricaturish or ridicule the original piece of work,” says Grewal. With Die Hard 5 too, even though Grewal has tried to remain closer to the expression, he lacks the impact for “he is a singer-turned-actor. “The trained voice of an actor has an altogether different effect,” says Cheema.