‘Home Shanti’, a new series about a Dehradun family building a house, is short and sweet, and gets much of its character, or cement, from the presence of Supriya Pathak and Manoj Pahwa. (from left) Poojan Chhabra, Supriya Pathak, Chakori Dwivedi and Manoj Pahwa in ‘Home Shanti’, streaming on Disney+Hotstar since May 6, 2022. (Image: Screen grab/Disney+Hotstar)
Among the more intriguing things about the OTT series boom is the phenomenon of the creative or the analogous subtitle – where dialogues featuring Indian cultural references or idioms are translated in such a way that they might be more relatable for a (presumed) westernised viewership. One can feel ambivalent about this sort of thing (some people are annoyed by it just on principle) but when done well, it can have inventive results.
Consider some examples from the new series Home Shanti, about a pleasant middle-class Dehradun family (the wonderful Supriya Pathak and Manoj Pahwa play a middle-aged couple with two teenage children) getting a new house, a long-cherished dream, built for themselves. In one scene, a contractor boasts that the cement mixer they have rented is as much in demand as the actor Akshay Kumar. The subtitle replaces Kumar’s name with that of Ryan Reynolds. (One wonders if Reynolds being Canadian has anything to do with it.)
In another scene, the 17-year-old Naman goes on a rant about his older sister being out of step with the times. “Jigyasa is so ’90s,” he says, “Ussko lagta hai ‘Udaas’ koi mood nahin, ghazal singer hai.” The reference, as anyone who knows the period will know, is to the singer Pankaj Udhas, but the subtitle opts for a clever alternate: it reads “Jigyasa is so ’90s, she doesn’t think Freedom is a feeling but a George Michael song.