Deciphering a Tamil poet  

Mathew Joy Mathew talks to Rajesh Malarvannan, the man behind the Tamil lyrics in superhit Bollywood films like Dangal

Published: 09th January 2017 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th January 2017 07:22 PM   |  A+A-

Tamil translator Rajesh Malarvannan

Express News Service

Entering into the studio of Rajesh Malarvannan one could see a pile of plastic bottles, steel tumblers, plastic sheets, a broken bell, and more bizarre things that you can’t categorize in your head into a single group.

At first I thought it was garbage waiting to be thrown out, later he explained that those were his props that he used to create live sound effects during the dubbing. After giving me a small demonstration by squeezing the plastic bottles and scratching on the plastic sheet and creating some very recognisable sounds from films we sat down and started off with his life story.

This humble human’s journey starts off in a tragic note, when both his parents passed away in an accident when he was just 12, leaving him and his sister to live with their uncle. “Even though my parents were Tamil writers, my uncle was very scared to let me follow my dream of writing for films, he wanted me to be safe and happy with a government job,” said Malarvannan with his emanating smile. But somethings can’t be contained especially in someone with such rigorous passion.

Rajesh started off his career with translating Urdu poems to Tamil in an Urdu serial. Shortly after understanding his knack for the job he was given an opportunity to write songs for the Malayalam movie ‘Sallapam’ while releasing it in Tamil. From then on Rajesh has written more than 1000 songs including Tamil version of popular cinema songs and original works.

Rajesh believes that translating the films and dubbing it into Tamil isn’t easy at all, he explained,” We don’t translate them directly to Tamil, what we do is we try our best to bridge the cultural differences by interpreting it in our culture so that the audience will not feel disconnected to the film and that is not plain translation.” He described the experience of his work as being thrown into the ocean with both hands tied and left with the expectation to survive, which he usually does by making money for foreign films being interpreted and enjoyed in Tamil.
Rajesh recently worked in the Aamir Khan film Dangal, and had a chance to meet Amir. Rajesh said, “Aamir had invited the dubbing crew from the southern states to discuss the possibilities, he was very professional and gave us the full freedom to bring out the best quality, as a person I would say he is a very down to earth person with great respect towards other artists.”

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