Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Indian TV: English channels with subtitles

A peep at the as-yet unseen The Secret Invasion, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and The Hunting Party for Overlooked Films at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.

Most English entertainment and movie channels beamed in India carry English subtitles at the bottom of the screen. This is a fairly recent practice. It has its advantages and disadvantages depending on how you look at it.

On the plus side, subtitles help viewers who find it difficult to follow American and British accents to understand English sitcoms and films better.


On the minus side, subtitles are like annoying pop-up ads; even if you are able to follow the accents clearly, you end up looking at the bottom of the screen and reading the lines.

Either way, you’re caught somewhere between looking at the screen, listening to the dialogues, reading the subtitles, and watching one-fourth of a film.

I have found a new use for the subtitles, one, I suspect, everyone else has too. Whenever the children have their exams I switch off the volume and let the subtitles take me through the sitcoms and movies I am watching. Problem is I have got into the habit of watching soundless television even otherwise.



One channel that does not carry subtitles is MGM, a decent substitute for TCM India which went off the air last year. As a result, I often miss watching some very good movies.

For instance, on Friday, April 26, MGM telecast The Secret Invasion (1964). Directed by Roger Corman, the film tells the story of British intelligence using criminals to work behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia during WWII. It stars Stewart Granger, Raf Vallone, Mickey Rooney, and Edd Byrnes. I’d never heard of this war film or of Vallone and Byrnes before.

The next day the channel showed Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) directed by Michael Cimino. Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, Jeff Bridges, and Catherine Bach star in this film about bank robbers who plan a daring heist of the fortress-like Montana Armored Depository.
 

Then, this evening, MGM is telecasting The Hunting Party (1971) which sounds even more interesting than the above two. Made by Don Medford, this western film stars one of my favourite actors, Gene Hackman, Oliver Reed, and Candice Bergen and relates the story of a ruthless rancher who pursues an outlaw who has kidnapped his wife, with a twist in the tale.

The good thing about Indian television channels is that they repeat everything, even news. Likewise, the same films are shown repeatedly over a long period of time which means I can always watch all three movies in my retirement.

8 comments:

  1. As someone with impaired hearing, I prefer movies and TV with subtitles, though for English-language productions they are generally available only on DVD here. I have sometimes sat through programs catching the occasional phrase with only a shred of an idea of what is going on. The current showing of the BBC series "The Bletchley Circle" on PBS is an example.

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    1. Ron, frankly, I never looked at it from that angle. That's a big plus in favour of subtitles. I haven't seen subtitles on English DVDs, though.

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  2. THE HUNTING PARTY, particularly unedited, is a pretty brutal and not very good film, despite a decent cast...I wonder how MGM channel in India treated it...MGM channel in the US does tend to censor, I think...

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    1. Todd, I guess I got carried away by the cast though I'd still like to watch THE HUNTING PARTY mainly for Hackman. English channels in India censor scenes and dialogues with shears and MGM is no better. I'm thinking of doing a post about it.

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  3. We used to have the same trick of repetition once upon a time on our local channels, Prashant. This was while I was growing up in Manhattan. If you missed a movie the first time, you could be sure of catching up with it at some point. Good times. :)

    I don't mind subtitles. I like French movies and don't speak French fluently so subtitles are necessary.

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    1. Yvette, I don't mind subtitles in foreign language films; however, I don't get the time to watch many of them. Here movies are repeated all year round, sometimes twice a day, so I rarely miss a film I desperately want to see.

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  4. I tend not to like subtitles, although I get used to them as I watch a movie with them.

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    1. Charles, I'm getting used to the subtitles and try as I might not to I keeping looking at them. It does make following a film easier.

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