“Teri maa ki…kuch nahi,” says Deadpool 2 Hindi script writer Mayank Jain, giving me an example of ‘abusive language’ that still isn’t objectionable by the Censor Board’s strict standards. He’s had to come up with a lot of these; the masked superhero is infamous for his potty-mouthed, irreverent brand of humour.
Jain, 36, has had a ton of practice – he’s been working as a translator for 17 years, but doesn’t like to be called one. “It really pinches me when someone calls me that because I’m an adapter. I adapt dialogues for an Indian audience, such that when you watch the Hindi-dubbed Deadpool 2, you’ll see that some of the dialogues are better than the English ones. A translator would turn ‘How are you?’ to ‘Kaise ho tum’ – a literal translation. I would make it, ‘Kya haal hai? Aur bataao yaar.’ I’ve had a lot of masti with Deadpool 2 that way,” he says.
Three years ago, Jain set up his own firm, Vaudiot Creatives, which adapts and dubs films for most of the city’s production houses. His recent body of work includes Kung Fu Panda 1, 2, 3, all five Ice Age movies and the two Kingsman films. Deadpool isn’t the first superhero Jain has put his spin on – he’s also worked on the James Mangold-directed Logan (2017). He tells us what working with Ranveer Singh was like and why he expects the Hindi-dubbed version of Deadpool 2 to be a huge hit:
HOW HE LANDED DEADPOOL 2
“I had adapted The Martian (2015) for Fox Star India, after which they approached me with Deadpool (2016). I called the producers immediately and told them this was a stupid movie. But I agreed to do it. It went on to become a major hit and so they said I was the natural choice to write the sequel. The studio called me a month in advance and told me to prepare myself for Deadpool 2,” he says.
WHAT SUCH A PROJECT ENTAILS
Jain didn’t do much research into the universe the character inhabits, opting to watch the film “just once or twice”. He then got a copy of the screenplay and began writing – “the dialogues just flowed,” he says.
“Deadpool 2 has a lot of references that won’t work for Indian audiences. For example, it has a few references to Disney characters and Winnie-the-Pooh. The basic challenge lies in making them either neutral or Bollywood-oriented. There’s a scene where Deadpool says he wants to go to McDonalds and get a burger. I changed that to ‘Main bhi paneer ke paranthe khaane ja sakta hoon.’ Since Ranveer Singh [who dubbed for Ryan Reynolds] is a Punjabi and had the accent down, it was fun to hear him say that. We’ve made references to Tiger Shroff, Shraddha Kapoor, Disha Patani so it seems like the movie belongs to our own industry. There are also lines from Wanted – ‘Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, uske baad to main khud ki bhi nahin sunta’ – and Chennai Express – ‘Don’t underestimate the power of a common man’. If you use Indian references, it clicks with the audience – that’s the fulcrum of what we do.”
He also draws inspiration from his childhood. “There’s a scene in which Domino asks, ‘Humare team ke kitne log bache hai?’ and Deadpool replies, ‘Saare pakke limbu mar gaye, sirf kachhe limbu bache hai.’ It’s such a cute scene. Whenever I played hide-and-seek as a child, I was the kachha nimbu.”
Jain doesn’t test his jokes on an audience to see if they land. Being in the business for so long has taught him to trust his instincts, he says. When the script is done, he checks whether the new dialogues match the movement of the characters’ lips.
The entire process takes him just 10 days, after which it’s time to dub the lines.
“There’s always room for improvisation in the studio. I might write the line as, ‘Tum kyun humare chakkar mein phasne aayi ho?’, but the dubbing artist might say, “Tum kyun humare chakkar mein phas rahe ho?” They might use the crux of the line. Ranveer is quite witty and quirky and he improvised a lot of the lines.”
HOW HE WORKS AROUND ABUSIVE LANGUAGE AND SEXUAL INNUENDOES
Jain has tips on how not to run afoul of the Censor Board. “We know our limitations. We can’t use the F-word too many times. Then again, we don’t need to use that word, we can replace it with a lot of cute Hindi expressions like, ‘Teri maa ka Sakinaka’. The youngsters really seem to enjoy that. Sometimes, using a curse word is unavoidable, like in Logan, where we replaced ‘motherfucker’ with ‘haramzada’. It’s not feasible to use euphemisms for everything, but at the same time, it’s important to not sound cheap. We were all happy that the film got an A rating. You can’t have a U rating for Deadpool 2, there’s too much below-the-belt humour.”
Other Censor Board no-no’s include verbally abusing a woman and making derogatory references to a public figure. “I initially had a line referencing a popular Indian YouTuber, but realised there was a possibility of her suing us for not seeking her permission beforehand. I replaced that line with a reference to ‘Chikni Chameli’. There’s a thin line we don’t want to cross.”
What about sexual innuendoes? “Deadpool makes frequent references to erections in the English version of the film. We wanted to retain his tongue-in-cheek humour and so I wrote lines like: Pappu pass ho gaya.”