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The voice behind

Sreya Basu, TWF, Bollywood Trade News Network
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Looks and voice make for the complete image of a Bollywood star. What is not very well known is that often, voice artistes save us from listening accented Hindi by some of these actors. Our correspondent reports as ROADSIDE ROMEO makes a splash with the animated characters speaking in the voice of Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan

What’s common between Rajesh Khanna in RUPAYA DUS KAROD, Vinod Mehra in POLICEWALA, Sunny Deol in INSAANIYAT, Rani Mukherjee in GHULAM, Bipasha Basu in RAAZ and Lisa Ray in WATER? Well, their voices, rather, their dubbed voices, that were used to boost up their performances, according to old copies of Filmfare and Cineblitz magazines. Not many in Bollywood talk about actors using other voices but it is perhaps one of the worst-kept secrets.

From Smita Patil to Kajol to Udita Goswami, and Dharmendra to Sanjay Dutt to Zayed Khan, almost the entire gamut of stars has been dubbed by unknown voice artists at some point of time.

Even stars in their right have lent their voices to fellow-artistes. Old film magazine copies reveal that even Rekha dubbed for Sridevi in AAKHRI RAASTA, for Smita Patil in WAARIS and for Soundarya and Jayasudha in SOORYAVANSHAM. Even Jaya Bachchan had dubbed for Tina Munim and Poonam Dhillon in YEH WAADA RAHA, old magazine reports say.

In Hollywood actress as high-profile as Anjelina Jolie gave her voice to animated flick KUNG FU PANDA.

And the latest addition to the Bollywood dubbing list is Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan who dubbed for the main characters Romeo and Laila in Yash Raj’s animation film ROADSIDE ROMEO.

Kareena told reporters: 'It was fun dubbing for ROADSIDE ROMEO. It's for the first time ever that an actress has dubbed for an animation film and since it was a first of sorts, it was particularly challenging.'

However, it is a fact that while these stars got due publicity, the community of voice artistes are rarely given credit for their work, or even acknowledged. Not even director Farah Khan acknowledged that Deepika Padukone's voice was dubbed in OM SHANTI OM.

But there are enough examples of stars not acknowledging the credit of the dubbing artists, even if they are fellow-actors. Like Kiran Kher’s voice for director Rituparno Ghosh’s Bengali film BARIWALI was reportedly dubbed by Bengali TV actor Rita Koiral. But while receiving the national award for her role in the film, Kiran allegedly didn’t find it important to disclose the truth of her voice that was a key factor of her performance, triggering a controversy.

Chetan Sashital, often known as the Big C of the voice industry for his expertise in matching the original voices, not only lent his voice to actor Amjad Khan, but also Rajiv Gandhi after his death.

For the late prime minister dubbing was needed for a two-part documentary by Simi Garewal. 'In the second part, which came out after Gandhi's death, the sound quality was not clear in several places and so Garewal asked me to dub for it,' Sashital recalls.
Among other film actors he dubbed for, was a series of films of Sunny Deol, including INSAANIYAT, VISHNU DEVA and MAJBOOR because 'Deol had fallen off from the horse at that time and had hurt himself. So he could not dub and I did his parts,' he reveals.

Another voice artist, Mona Shetty, has also become popular with actresses like Rani Mukherjee to Katrina Kaif. She was also called to do the complete dubbing for Kajol in DUSHMAN. 'Kajol was unavailable and film had to be completed soon. There were lots of screaming and shouting and luckily my voice matched with that of Kajol,' Shetty says.

Similarly Namrata Sawhney dubbed for Juhi Chawla in some of the 'Kurkure' advertisements as Chawla was unavailable at that moment.

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'Now-a-days we have to do the dubbing mostly for actors who are not comfortable with the language,' Shetty says. She dubbed Katrina's voice in SARKAR and HUMKO DEEWANA KAR GAYE and for Isha Sharvani in KISNA.

'Sometimes their diction is not appropriate or they don't know the language. For example, South African model Ilene Hamann in ROG had no clue about what she was saying, but she put it off somehow, which is creditable. Mostly in these cases we have to make a sense out of a mixture of non-sense, half-said and unsaid,' Shetty adds.

The dubbing artistes perceive the future of their skill bright with most actors not trained in the art of dialogue-delivery or have unconventional voices.

'Most of today's actors come with a pretty face and a good figure. They are signed on and the film has to be completed. So there is no time to give them voice training. It also happens that filmmakers are not interested in taking chances. They believe voice artistes can actually enhance the performance,' says Sawhey who dubbed for Udita Goswami in ZEHER. “There was a scene where Udita has to whisper to Emraan Hasmi. But actually she was yelling. So often voice artistes have to correct the dubbing as well,' she reveals.

However, dubbing artistes have their problems too. Most of the times they are not informed about the characters they are to lend voices to or the film. Besides a lot depends on whom are they working with. They are generally ignored, if not disliked, by many actors, except a few.

'John Abraham actually said in print and electronic media that his voice was dubbed in JISM and full credit should be given me instead of him, even though he never met me till then,' says voice artiste Viraj Addhav.

Manisha Koirala actually passed voice artist Sawhey's contact number to producers for whom she could not dub.

The flipside of a voice artiste's job is that he/she never gets a mention anywhere. Instead, most of the time, their work is concealed like as if it is a 'crime'.

'Every one, from the spot boy to the driver, gets credit. We understand that it can work against a star's image but all we are asking for is a general mention in the end credits,' Sashital argues.

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