Nov 17, 2007

Lost In Translation

“Santhusht a Irukatheenga”, a smiley faced SRK ad-vises us Kuppans and Subbans of Tamil Land. This is the dubbed version of the DishTV ad on one of the Tamil channels. DishTV may not have plans to penetrate the rural veins of TN, but such an ad would plant a premature R.I.P on any possible prospects.

Ads are money. And big money at that. They provide the return on investment only if they reach the targeted audience. TN is not like other Indian states. You cannot afford to expect people to know what Santhusht is, especially when repeated in Junoon-tamil sentences. By a face alien to the masses (barring the peeps SRK made into few elitist tamil movies).

The equivalent Tamil word might destroy the lip-sync. It may even kill the cute little skewed rhyme the sathusht-dish-wish make. But retaining it would make the very first step in communication wobbly.

One can reason, that inserting incomprehensible info can create curiosity, but what the heck, even the well orchestrated “nalarai pal” and “pulli-raja” campaigns became relics way too soon in their life cycles.

When there are toddlers who can recite 1330 kurals verbatim, why do kids with tongues pasted to the roof of their mouths dub for ads? Creativity can take a backseat, but sensibilities can’t afford to. Ads as such, are an intrusion, and are more often than not used as breaks from the couch to check on the launderette or the cooking. Given the limited attention capture time, sloppiness can be a costly mistake.

As a contrast, the Tanishq ad for Diwali made one Santhusht. It had a known persona of star value, Asin, totting the jewellery for “Dhanteras”, also a concept new to tamils (the majority). It clearly conveyed the message, with Asin urging us, with flawless diction, to book in advance for the festive “Dhanteras”. I, for one, looked up for “Dhanteras” and was able to place the context.

As a check, I asked my maid, what she understood by Dhanteras. “Namma Atchaya thiruthiyai pola Deepvali ku etho podranma” (translated as “They are launching something like our Akshaya Thrithyai for this Deepavali”).

Its time ad-men paid attention to the basics.


EnGeetham aka "My Song!" said...

Sol, I think the reverse works too. I recall (from Hailey's Wheels, I think - "Ugly is beautiful") that sometimes really lousy ads stick in the mind. From our days, there used to be in one "Harrison Thala" (locks) on DD - it used to be one lock doing a pendulum with an irritating voice-over... It just stuck with an instant recall those days - not sure where the lock went though !

In any case, the recall value for the ads these days are the star value; but with SRK in 100s of ads, one morphs into another with his smart-ass comments !!

Karthik said...

He hee - ask me about the travails of a tamil stuck in hindi heartland. Trying to convince my punjabi, rajasthani and UP roomies that RajiniKanth is not a fool.. And SRK has made my position even more tough with his "Enna Rascala, Mind It" dialogue which is mouthed at me atleast 100 times daily in the hostel.. Ohh and my new year wish is that vijaykanth stops performing stupid stunts in movies !!

Karthik said...

U've been tagged .. Try this game

~SuCh~ said...


Agreer. Those were the days when the ad world wasnt so cut throat. That even poorly sketched animations did wonders.

@Karthik :
I had a tough time once, trying to convince a northie that Tamilians aren't fools to adore Rajnikanth... :) But gave up in the end, when all arguments became devoid of logic...
Still, no amount of logic can take away the magic he creates on screen :)


I rarely do tags. Thanks for the offer, though :)