Where is the voice coming from?

Where is the voice coming from?

Magician's code

Where is the voice coming from?

Advaita Shyam Sunder tries to unveal the magic behind Indushree Raveendra’s ventiloquism.

Whoever has a preconceived notion that women cannot be ventriloquists have to introspect or change their perspective as Bangaloran Indushree Raveendra, a dexterous woman who is known for her tryst with puppets, contemporarily stands tall and proud as the first and only Indian female ventriloquist of an international stature.

Indushree is the only Indian woman to have carved a name in the Limca Book of Records for performing in the longest broadcasting live Zee Kannada TV show inclusive of 68 episodes. She has enamoured Farah Khan and Anu Malik when she performed using a real dog named ‘Rocky’ as her dummy during one of the seasons of Entertainment Ke Liye Kucch Bhi Karega, Sony TV. She has even performed with a doll of 10 feet size, namely Mahishasura during one of the Dasara festivities in Mysore in order to claim fame by entering in the Guinness Book of World Records for using the world’s tallest doll in ventriloquism.

Being adept at ventriloquism did not suffice in such a case wherein the puppet was of a massive size as one had to strain one’s vocal chords to create an illusion of the puppet conversing with the audience. But Indushree braved this challenge with elan. On being asked about how it felt to have performed such a glorious act, she states, “I knew I had the gift of the gab but performing with a doll of such a height was pressurising. Since I have always believed adversity brings out the best in people, so I managed to perform the act effortlessly and was glad that I could manoeuvre thorough the pressure the doll put on my shoulder.”

It is no doubt that she loves the limelight, but her ventriloquism is not just a field which she feels is merely for garnering attention by entertaining the public. It has helped her to be articulate, creative and extol the firmament of arts as a field in itself.
Ventriloquism is not just about voice modulation, it is about how well one can project one’s voice to emulate a certain character to be enacted out by the puppet and make it seem like it is not emanating from the performer. Today she is a veteran ventriloquist and this is credited to her passion for the art. She ventured into ventriloquism not to hanker after money and fame rather as an artist she felt she needed to make the public aware of how ventriloquism could be used for social causes. It could be used as a form of entertainment, which is a combination of humour, satire, mundane things of life, idiosyncrasies of politicians, people, and celebrities.

When people are in school, they usually have a habit of admiring themselves in front of the mirror, however, Indushree as a kid used to sit for a prolonged period of time before the mirror just to conjure up on ways she could speak without moving her lips, a cardinal trait in a ventriloquist. She had no personal mentor to teach her the lip control techniques, how to stress on vocal chords, infact she watched videos of several great ventriloquists to figure out the trick. She laid the groundwork for her profession at a young age by improvising ways to switch voices, moods and expressions that she actually uses today to flit from one dummy over to another.

A family support is pivotal for advancing in one’s career, especially as an artist. Indushree has been content with the encouragement provided by her family. Her brother and mother constitute the moral support, her father is usually the architect of the dolls or dummies as he maintains and repairs them whenever required and her uncle lends his hand in scripting dialogues for her performances.

One of the notable facts about her performance is that since she is a magician as well, she often intersperses magic between her ventriloquist acts whenever she deems it necessary. For instance, for Axtell Puppet’s video challenge, in one of the acts, she had used a talking magic board. Continuous innovation seems her forte. For the same Axtell Puppet’s video contest, she had used a dummy named ‘Grandpa’ to jibe at the concept of marriage and spouses. ‘Grandpa’ claims in the act that how can one be happy and married both at the same time, asking a rhetoric question humorously.

The best part about each of her dummy acts is that each of her dummies and the characters that they portray become a phenomenon. One can vividly distinguish between Indushree’s and her dummies personas. Her regular companion and dummy, which is popularly known as Dinku has essayed the role of many politicians including PM Manmohan Singh and Lalu Prasad Yadav in several of her performances. Dinku has even been in the shoes of celebrity Rakhi Sawant and portrayed her role with humour as to why she will never get married.

One can draw a parallel between Indushree and Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes. This is because many people believed that Sherlock Holmes is real and not a fictional character due to the way Conan Doyle characterized him effectively. Similarly, Dinku, the dummy is a separate well-recognized entertainer in himself who has enjoyed popularity; it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it is Dinku who has awarded fame to Indushree. Her identity as a ventriloquist is undeniably due to Dinku.

It is a noteworthy aspect of her performances accompanied by the dummies that they are in tandem with current affairs, she uses some theme from the latest happenings in the society to transform it into an anecdote in her renditions to make it into an infotainment.

This becomes necessary to induce novelty in ventriloquism. In spite of being a connoisseur of ventriloquism, the intention to be original each time makes her a doyen in the vocation.

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