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Reading the sounds

Oemar posted this video on his blog sometimes back, prompting me to write this.

Wikipedia defines subtitles as ‘textual versions of the dialog in films and television programs, usually displayed at the bottom of the screen’.


Subtitles can be (a) Translation, or (b) Caption – text version of events on screen.

Subtitles in the movie Lagaan. Song - Radha kaise na jale

Here in Canada, Hindi movies shown in movie halls always have subtitles to them. These are, expectedly, English translation of Hindi dialogs. I have a nasty habit of reading the English subtitles ahead of the dialog delivery in Hindi. The minute the subtitles appear on screen, I digest them, and by the time the Hindi dialog ends, I am already reacting to it. Especially while watching Om Shanti Om, often I was laughing all by myself, because I read the subtitles but the Hindi dialogs were still getting spoken 😉


Closed CaptioningIn US and Canada, the words ‘captions’ and ‘subtitles’ have different meanings. Subtitles are only a textual version of the dialogs on screen – assuming that the viewer can hear the sounds. On the other hand, Captions mean a little more than that. The symbol CC (not to be confused with Creative Commons) seen in the picture stands for ‘closed captioning’ and is specifically aimed at people who have hearing disability. The CC’s transcribe speech and all the relevant sounds in the video being played.

Captioning has progressed immensely and eventually it aims to describe all non-speech information – such as the identity of speakers and their manner of speaking, along with music or sound effects using words or symbols.


I know it would be foolish to ascertain ‘which disability is the highest disability’, but I feel more for the hearing disabled. Probably because sound takes me close to myself more than anything else. For me, voice is one of the important things that makes the other person sexy 😉 Finally, I’m overly musically oriented.

Closed Captioning in the game Half Life Among the games I like to play, Half Life 2 and Doom 3 feature CC. The best thing I can do is – switch off the noises sounds in the game, turn on the CC’s and play my favorite music in the background instead. That way I get the best of both – my music and my game. Even on TV shows, it would feel funny to read stuff like (phone rings), (serious music in the background) and things like that, but once used to it, I find it equally enjoyable. Expressive content, such as Bollowood movies, rely solely on the background score to enhance the intensity of the scene. Think about shehnai music, and it reminds you of either a marriage or something tragic, doen’t it?

The sense of hearing is something I always took for granted, until few years back when I made a new friend. Now I see it in a different perspective altogether.

It’s too noisy out there. Try to read the sounds sometime 🙂

Published inSocial Commentary


  1. You must watch this movie Shor – an old Manoj Kumar film ..very tragic and poignant ..
    Even I have the habit of reading subtitles of Bollywood and tamil films ..its hilarious , especially the songs

  2. Kevin Rodrigues Kevin Rodrigues

    So that’s the difference between captions and subtitles. I watched a lot of movies while in China and some of those movies had captions while others had subtitles.

    And one great film with no speech was Pushpak. Still empathize with Kamal Hassan when he loses the chit with his girlfriend’s address.

  3. backpakker:
    Shor… hmm hard to find in the public library here. Maybe when I go to India

    Man… that movie is so etched in my mind…

  4. Ha knowing you, I knew you were very much inclined towards sound. 😀 Very much remember your Bhangra on Sitar. And who doesn’t have the habit of reading subtitles ? 😛

    Yes, I too recommend shor. Manoj Kumar, Nanda starrer. Don’t want to tell you the story. 🙂

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