“Teri maa ki…kuch nahi,” says Hindi script writer Mayank Jain, citing 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 lines for Deadpool 2; the 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.” While another translator might turn ‘How are you?’ into ‘Kaise ho tum?’ – a more literal translation – Jain says he would opt for, ‘Kya haal hai? Aur bataao yaar.’
“I’ve had a lot of masti with Deadpool 2 that way,” he adds. 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
Jain had adapted The Martian (2015) for Fox Star India, after which they approached him with Deadpool (2016). “I called the producers immediately and told them this was a stupid movie,” he says. He did the film anyway and its massive success made him the natural choice to write the sequel. The studio called him a month before it released and asked him to prepare a script.
WHAT SUCH A PROJECT ENTAILS
Jain didn’t do much research into the universe the character inhabits, opting to watch the film just once. He then got a copy of the screenplay and began writing – “the dialogues just flowed,” he says.
His first task was converting the film’s many references to Disney characters and Winnie the Pooh into either neutral or Bollywood-specific nods. A scene in which Deadpool says he wants to get the McDonalds McRib becomes ‘Main bhi paneer ke paranthe khaane ja sakta hoon.’ in the Hindi version. “Since Ranveer Singh [who dubbed for Ryan Reynolds] is a Punjabi and had the accent down, it was fun to hear him say that.”
Jain says audiences can expect references to Tiger Shroff, Shraddha Kapoor and Disha Patani. There are also nods to Wanted (2009) – ‘Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, uske baad to main khud ki bhi nahin sunta’ – and Chennai Express (2013) – ‘Don’t underestimate the power of a common man’.
Jain says he also draws inspiration from his childhood. A scene in which Domino asks, ‘Humare team ke kitne log bache hai?’ has Deadpool reply, ‘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,” he adds.
He 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 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’,” he says. His rule of thumb is that while it’s not always feasible to use euphemisms, it’s important to not sound cheap.
Other Censor Board no-no’s include verbally abusing a woman and making derogatory references to a public figure. Jain initially wrote a line referencing a popular Indian YouTuber, but on realising that there was a possibility of her suing them for not seeking her permission beforehand, replaced it with a reference to ‘Chikni Chameli’.
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.”