Language can create barriers and break them down. We speak more than one language and often switch between different dialects. Cinema, too, is a language, and while it is primarily visual there’s a lot of importance on the spoken words. 

Many actors have openly expressed their displeasure with the term ‘Bollywood’ and have requested that it should be called ‘Hindi film industry’ instead. In an interview for her film KGF: Chapter 2 with Man’s World, actor Raveena Tandon said, “This copycat trend of adding ‘-wood ’ to every industry is like giving it a bad nickname. It’s pathetic and brain-numbing. I would want the media to call us the Indian film industry. It’s a great feeling that pan-India films are changing it for us. It’s the integration of every industry now and that’s beautiful.”

In another interview, Pushpa: The Rise actor Rashmika Mandanna said, “The success that the movie has received shows that the culture and language barriers are now blurring and fading away.”

However, recently, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui called out the Hindi film industry saying it uses “too much English” right from script and screenplay to narration. He praised the Southern industry for staying true to their language.

Quite recently, Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn and Kannada actor Sudeep Kiccha got into a discussion over India’s national language. During an event, Kiccha had said, “Hindi is no more a national language and that Bollywood is struggling, hence they are making pan-India films.” Through a tweet typed in Hindi, Devgn asked if Hindi is not the national language, why are South Indian films being dubbed in Hindi.

Bengali actor Ritabhari expressed her thoughts on if language is barrier when it comes to the cinema or if those lines are now blurred. “I think the barrier of language is getting blurred due to the fact that regional languages films have nationally been doing good business. Films in other languages, other than Hindi are being more welcomed than before across the country. Especially in OTT, the view counts are amazing. Even when it comes to international content, I think English is no longer the only language we look forward to. For example, Money Heist has been one of the biggest shows which is created in Spanish and a lot of people watch it either in its original language with subtitles or the English dubbed version. Therefore, I feel if the content is good, people are keen to watch the content despite the language it’s made in.” 

Like Ritabhari, actor Esha Gupta has a similar opinion. She narrates a childhood story that had a huge impact on her. She says, “I think the saying ‘Love has no language’ goes the same for art; it has no language either. I’ve grown up watching Bengali films with my dad. One such film that has been embedded in my memory was Sonar Kella by Satyajit Ray. I remember it played on the DD channel, without any subtitles. I watched it with papa every time it played, only to realise years later that my dad doesn’t speak or understand Bengali. That is the beauty of cinema and art.”

Telugu and Tamil actor Sundeep Kishan adds, “Language has never been a barrier for the entertainment industry. If you’d realise, we started with Charlie Chaplin films with no words at all. We dub the film in different languages now for people to understand it better. Having said that, the emotions remain the same. With OTT platforms, it’s a blessing and I feel it’s a legal and revenue-generating version of Torrent where people can watch films and shows in different languages with subtitles. The content is reaching people in 240 countries, at least.”

Rohit Saraf, known for his show Mismatched on Netflix says, “When it comes to entertainment, language has never truly been a barrier. Art does not necessarily need a language. However, with the advent of OTT now, the reach of every film has increased ten folds and has brought the world closer through entertainment.”

Actor Karan Singh Grover added, “Whether we are talking pan-India or even on a global scale for that matter, I don’t think language is a barrier anymore. We are increasingly watching more shows and movies of different languages traversing geographical boundaries across the world. And whether or not we understand the language, everyone understands the emotion and entertainment behind what is being said. The world has come to a phase where they don’t really distinguish between languages as long as we can understand the emotions and story they portray. OTT has made global go g-local and is closing out the cultural gaps across the world, making it a smaller place to live in.”