Speaking in Voices

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Priya Adivarekar, who has just finished studies in journalism, has been a dubbing artist since she was 8. She talks to Youth Inc about lending her voice to the Hindi dubs of films like ‘Bolt’ and for stars like Demi Lovato

How did a career in dubbing begin for you?
I had zero knowledge about the dubbing industry [and] dubbing wasn’t even considered a career option. I never took any training. I used to mimic Bollywood celebrities and popular cartoons. In 2000, I participated in a dance reality show where I was asked to mimic a few actors. The response was fantastic and that’s when I was approached by a famous dubbing director.

What was your very first dubbing project? Can you remember how you felt when you first stepped into the recording booth?
My first project was Buzz Lightyear of the Star Command for Disney Hour on Sony in 2001. On the first day I was a bit nervous. The director was extremely sweet. She showed me a few clips of the show and told me how to go about it. The script was in Hindi and for an eight-year-old it was difficult to understand a few words. But I [had] a wonderful team. I was thrilled to stand behind the mic, wear the headphones (which didn’t fit my head that time) and dub for one of my favourite shows. After completing the dub, I got my first ever salary.

Do you mimic the original voice in the Hindi dub or do you have your own take on what the character should sound like?
In most cases, I don’t get a chance to watch the episode or film in advance as they are new releases. But there are times when the director insists I watch at least one episode (in case of a series) or a scene to understand the character. For most of my projects, I didn’t have to mimic anyone. I was just asked to be myself. But voice modulation is always necessary. Also, there were projects where I was required to sound slightly younger or older.

What characters have you dubbed for?
I got an amazing response for my character Pia in the Hindi version of  Disney’s Bolt. The original voice was done by Miley Cyrus. I was also the voice of teen sensation Demi Lovato in the series Sonny with a Chance and films like Camp Rock [and] Princess Protection Program. Other projects include the Tinkerbell movie series, The Lion King 2, Minnie’s Bow Toons, How to Train Your Dragon (movie and series),  Ice Princess 2 and many more. I have also given voiceovers for a couple of advertisements.

What was your most high-profile project?
Bolt has been the best project. It was huge, because it got a theatrical release and Miley Cyrus had dubbed for the original version. I was told that I was selected for this role because my voice is very similar to Miley’s. I remember dubbing one day before my HSC board exams. We finished recording the entire film (my part) in just four hours. I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw my name in the end credits on the big screen.

A lot of times people feel that a dub in another language takes away the charm of the film. What are your thoughts?
Not really. Voice-over artists in India always try their best to match up to the standard of their western counterparts, and in some cases do a better job. Some jokes do fall flat, but that cannot be helped. The script writers try their best to replace it with something good. Dubbed films have a target audience [who] are happy with the result because they get a chance to watch an English film and understand [it]. The overall box office collection of dubbed films is really good.

For all those who aspire to be a dubbing artist, what advice would you give them?
If you can modulate your voice, act behind the mic [and] be expressive, you should try your luck at dubbing. Be prepared to spend hours in the recording studio, repeating lines and sometimes even coming back for a session on script corrections. Watch some shows, keep the channel on mute and try doing some  fun voice-overs at home (I keep imitating Shin Chan all the ti me).
I think dubbing has come a long way. The industry has grown so much. Several shows are being dubbed, not only in Hindi, but also in other Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu and Marathi. People can look at it as a career option, but I personally feel it is better off as a part-time career. Everything depends on your voice and the kind of characters available. There might be days where you won’t have anything to do. But as a student, it has definitely helped my savings and got me a lot of recognition. Plus, I enjoy what I am doing.

VOICING IT OUT WITH PRIYA

ONE MOVIE YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE DUBBED: Any of the Disney princess films, especially Beauty and the Beast

HOW RICH IS VOICE DUBBING MAKING YOU?
Enough to keep my savings account and parents happy

ANY CELEBRITY/ACTOR YOU’D LIKE TO WORK WITH:
Amitabh Bachchan because he has a powerful voice. Shahid Kapoor – he can mimic people really well. From the west, working with Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams is my dream.

THE RIGHT FOOD FOR YOUR VOICE: I stay away from ice creams, cold water and aerated drinks. A glass of warm water with honey and lime always helps. Ginger powder (with a pinch of powdered sugar for those who find it spicy) is also great.

BIG NO-NOS FOR A VOICE ARTIST: Don’t be late for your recording, avoid overacting, stay away from all things cold and stay grounded, no matter how big or famous you are

IF YOUR LIFE WERE TO BE NARRATED, WHOSE VOICE SHOULD NARRATE IT? Shahrukh Khan – his voice [would] suit my ‘oh-sodramatic’ life story

ONE PERSON WHOSE VOICE SHOULD ALWAYS BE DUBBED OVER:
Katrina Kaif and Nargis Fakhri, unless they play a character where their accent is a must

 

Volume 2 Issue 12