Willing To Be

Over to the voices… ¶ March 12

Subha J Rao meets the faces behind the voices of some big screen beauties and baddies

They’ve always been in the sidelines of showbiz, speaking their lines and fading away before the credits roll in. Most non-Tamil heroines, even some local ones, have reaped the advantage of being given a voice by these trained people with emotion-rich voices. Be it the burst of bubbliness that forces you to sit up and smile, the naughty drawl that has the front-benchers in a tizzy or the tear-choked voice that has you reaching for your handkerchief, it is these women who deserve the plaudits.

Of late, the tide’s in their favour, with people identifying them by face and voice. The fact that actors/singers (think Rohini, Saritha, Deepa Venkat, Chinmayi ) have gone on to make a mark as dubbing artistes has seen them climb the popularity stakes. Plus, there are the State Awards these artistes have been honoured with. Over to the women, and some men, on what it feels like to be the voice.


She’s Jessie’s voice in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya. And, her voice in the Telugu (Ye Maya Chesave) and Hindi (Ek Deewana Tha) versions too. Now, she’s Nayantara’s voice in the Tamil version of Sri Rama Rajyam.

WORKING Since 2006 For Bhoomika in Sillunu Oru Kaadhal. Has dubbed for over 20 films now.

LANGUAGES Tamil, Telugu, Hindi

LOVE I never expected to dub, because I don’t have a typical girl’s voice. But, it’s a wonderful atmosphere in the dubbing studio. I get to be part of the filmmaking process, and am privy to intellectual conversations among the core team. Dubbing has made me realise the kind of detail and composition that goes into a film. It has added to my fascination for the craft.

MEMORABLE MOMENT While dubbing for Padmapriya for an especially intense scene in director Vasanth’s Satham Podadhey, I froze. The director nudged me gently, and I did not stop screaming. I was crying long after the take was okayed.


She’s probably the oldest among the current crop of dubbing artistes. In recent times, Sreeja was the chirpy voice of ‘Kulfi’ Laila in Dill, the saccharine sweet voice of Devayani in Kaadhal Kottai, Shalini’s child-woman voice in Kaadhalukku Mariyadhai and the voice on the phone in Kaavalan. She’s known for her ability to effortlessly switch among styles. These days, she works as a dubbing coordinator and writer.

WORKING For the past 33 years

FILMOGRAPHY More than 300 films in Tamil, more than 700 in Malayalam, besides others

THEN AND NOW I long for the good old days when we all worked together in the dubbing theatre. Today, thanks to the digital track, we have convenience but no camaraderie. But, I love the recognition coming our way now. It’s nice that we are acknowledged by at least a few actors, who seek us out to say thanks.

LANGUAGES Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam

LOVE Name one other profession where a 40-plus person can sound like a 16 year old? Where I can live different lives every single day? There’s so much of passion involved in dubbing. Plus, the fact that it is woman-friendly.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS When recording the sequence in Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai where eloped lovers Shalini and Vijay stand on the beach and speak about returning to their parents. That dialogue will remain evergreen. Also, Piriyaadha Varam Vendum, where Shalini appeared in about 65 to 70 scenes. It gave me a lot of scope to perform.


She’s basking in the accolades coming her way for Mayakkam Enna where she dubbed for Richa Gangopadhyay. As a child, you might have her heard her in the TV cartoons ‘Chippendale’ and ‘Gummy Bears’. She was Simran’s voice in Kannathil Muthamittal. She’s also dubbed for Anushka in Deiva Thirumagal

WORKING Since 1995-1996

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LANGUAGES Tamil, Hindi, Telugu

FILMOGRAPHY More than a 100 movies.

LOVE It’s wonderful to be in a field where you breathe life into a character. You can take it a level higher. Sometimes, when the actor’s performance is not good, you fill in the gaps with your emotion. It is a tough job, but greatly rewarding. I especially love dubbing for someone who cannot speak Tamil. There is the added challenge of having to sound natural.

MEMORABLE MOMENT The scene in Mayakkam Enna where Richa breaks down after her miscarriage. It was hard to not feel the emotion long after dubbing.

ARTISTES Simran, Sneha, Jyothika, Devayani


A veteran dubbing artiste, she can sound child-like and dignified, in turn. Remember Jyothika’s high-pitched arguments in Khushi and Nandita Das’ mellow grace in Azhagi? She takes credit for both. The second-generation is into dubbing too. Her daughter Shringa dubbed for baby Sarah in Deiva Thirumagal (DT). Savitha is known for her ability to modulate her voice to suit many actors, while retaining her style.

WORKING Since 1990s as a child artiste. Graduated to the big league as Aishwarya Rai’s voice in Jeans.

LANGUAGES Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and English

ARTISTES Tamannaah, Jyothika, Amala Paul, Hansika Motwani, Nayantara, Abitha, Sada and Laila

FILMOGRAPHY More than 500

LOVE That I act in my heart and feel I am like the actor for whom I’m dubbing. The emotions automatically follow. Also, the chance to meet so many people, artistes and characters every single day.

MEMORABLE MOMENT Recording with my daughter Shringa for DT. We had a lot of scenes together, and it was a mixture of pride and joy on seeing her do so well.

LEARNING CURVE I’ve seen the changes in the industry, from the time when we had a single loop system to the present-day digital track system.

Other noted female dubbings artists are Anuradha, Hemamalini and Durga.


Would Mohan have endeared himself to Tamil film lovers without S.N. Surendar’s voice? Or, Sonu Sood have been as effective a villain in Arundathi without Sai Ravi's booming baritone?

There was a time when male dubbing artists lent life to the lead actors on screen. Today, with Tamil-speaking actors ruling the roost, they provide the voice for character artistes and villains, most of whom are imports from other industries.

Kadhir, who lent his voice to Danny Denzongpa in Endhiran and Ashish Vidyarthi in quite a few films, says dubbing allows him the joy of reliving a moment. “It is job where you concentrate on so many things such as lip sync and emotions, but where the final product has to sound effortless. That takes work.” A greater challenge is reproducing a popular actor’s voice when he is not able to dub due to unforeseen circumstances, says Kadhir, who has been dubbing for 11 years in Telugu and Tamil, besides writing and dubbing a Korean film into English.

Some years ago, hotshot actor Vikram lent his voice for Abbas, Ajith and Prabhu Deva. Other noted male dubbing artistes are Ravi Shankar aka Sai Ravi, Rajendran (who lends voice to Kota Srinivasa Rao), Prakash and Shekhar (Shah Rukh Khan).



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