(This article has first published on Firstpost.com)
The real hero in Joss Whedon’s dazzling, blue and golden, geometric spectacle of multiple Marvel superheroes, is a smooth, human voice that's silky with deadly, almost friendly menace. He's Ultron, a “computari dimag” or artificial intelligence, created by Tony Stark and now determined to wipe out the human race. Not that he matches the more expressive and dangerously sexy Loki from The Avengers, but the very purpose that defines the villain in the sequel is James Spader’s voice as Ultron.
Match Ultron's insidious evil with Spader’s voice. You're allowed to shiver. Now imagine it in an Indian Bigg Boss-like voice, speaking in Hindi and you witness a destruction of a different and more devastating kind than what Ultron has planned in the Avengers’ universe. Hopefully, when the next Avengers comes along, there will be more invested into the translation and the dubbing. Right now, in Avengers 2: Kalyug ka Mahayuddh, the Hindi dub just means death: by hammer, tongs, shield, arrow and voice.
When Ultron chants, "Nahin hai ab koi dori..main azaad hoon...", it’s a direct translation of the words to the song that is his anthem in the English version (”I've got no strings to hold me down/ to make me fret, or make me frown/ I had strings, but now I'm free/ There are no strings on me”). You might want to react with something stronger than a frown. Maybe something like making a bonfire out of your favourite comic books in protest.
The lines in the Hindi version of Age of Ultron are legendary, for all the wrong reasons. How is anyone supposed to react with anything other than laughter if a villain rasps, “Khoon ke aasoo rulaonga”That’s not all. In Kalyug ka Mahayuddh, you see and hear not just the death of the master villain’s voice, but also that of every Avenger. Lines like Thor’s “Nikal gayi hekdi” and Black Widow’s “Raita tum phailao aur saaf karun main?" are either unintentionally funny or funnier than Whedon intended because of how awkward they sound.
Add to this, the twins - Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) - who are from the fictional central European country of Sokovia and have a strong Slavic accent in the English original. In Hindi, they get a Haryanvi accent and lines like, “Man-ne na dekhni tasvir…”.
Wonder what Haryana would make of that. Randeep Hooda may want to throw some light here. And some thunder too.
If you’re watching Kalyug ka Mahayuddh for its comedic value, then the film is a party (or “jeet ka jashn” as they call it). Bury your reservations and resign yourself to watching the sexy Black Widow look as seductive as hell in her black, skintight outfit while sounding like a schoolgirl. And saying things like “Tum harey mat ho jaana”, to Bruce Banner. (That's Hindi for "Don't turn green.") No matter how perfect the pout, when “Hi, big guy” becomes ”Hi, pehelwaan”, it just doesn’t sound flirtatious.
With sentiments like, “gussa tez hai par andar se mom (wax)” from Black Widow, the romance between her and Bruce Banner falls spectacularly apart, crashing like entire cities in the film. Even the wordless scenes, like when Black Widow puts her tiny hand in the Hulk’s giant green paw, suffer terribly.
The good part is that the target audience in single screens theatre appears to be enjoying exactly the same jokes as those watching the original English version. At the Avengers’ jeet ka jashn, Stark says that if he rules Asgard, he’ll be “reinstituting prima nocta” in the English original. In Hindi, Stark says, “Sau raaniyan rakhoonga”. Regardless of language, everyone laughs.
The Hindi-dubbed version does have one big advantage. Every silent scene with its stunning visual effects is made more effective as you shift your focus from the audio to what you see before you. All you care about is that the Avengers are back, slimmer and sexier. They don’t just fight and save the earth. They also party, drink, play games, learn ballet, fail, get wounded, cry and fall in love.
Honing in on the film’s impressive visuals, you can appreciate the special attention paid to the choreography of fights; details like the grand finale in which a circular camera motion showcases the ultimate war dance of the Avengers. Whedon is not satisfied with superheroes flying and entire cities crumbling. We also see how he visualises energy and artificial intelligence: shining lines of light that circle and flare, and look hypnotic.
Of course, aside from the sublime, there’s also the ridiculous. Like Iron Man pounding the Hulk after a long chase, and yelling, “So jaa, chal so jaa!” The audience is wide-awake, laughing. It may not be sophisticated, but it certainly is paisa wasool. Especially at 120 bucks, in a single screen.