Throwing away his voice

Throwing away his voice
Performing artiste Ram Charan treats his voice like a magic wand. He relies on its power immensely, just like how a sculptor works with his chisel. A popular ventriloquist from the City, he stands tall in front of his audience with a monkey and a duck on either side and talks for them. The chemistry between the three has to be seen to be believed.

But little did he know that he was a ventriloquist when he first started performing. He terms his stint with the artform as an “accidental incident or an incidental accident”.

Ram recalls, “An audience member once came up to me and said that I was a good ventriloquist after one of my shows. I twitched my eyebrows as I had never heard of that word. It was only later that realised that I had a tag attached to my work. It seemed pretty cool!”

His love-affair with ventriloquism began after he completed his engineering and started working with a professor in the mechatronics department at the Indian Institute of Science.

He says, “I was working on a project that dealt with automated puppetry. It was an unprecedented project where we breathed life into the puppets. Around the same time, one of my friends presented me a duck. It was a small toy which one usually buys from the roadside. I didn’t know what to do with it at first but later, I decided to re-furnish the toy. I visualised my robot and gave life to this duck – by building arms, legs and a mouth to it. Soon, I decided to give it a voice too.”

Thus started his ‘vocal journey’ and he started practising ventriloquism seriously. He learnt the art and showcased his talent at local fests and  spread the word at various corporate and public shows like the ‘Bangalore Laughter Carnival’.

He works with a flurry of Quixotic themes with just two characters – his duck called ‘KD’, the ‘Kadharnak’ duck, and ‘Kunky the Monkey’. He says, “I made the duck eat peanuts at one of my shows. This was when I became confident about my art. My shows range from talking about certain social messages, to comical themes and getting my characters ‘discussing’ about issues that are relevant today.”

Though the art is at a very nascent stage as there are only a handful in the City who practise ventriloquism, Ram believes that the artform will pick up and turn into a robust, mainstream market for youngsters who will go on to experiment with various styles. He also hopes to give better exposure the art by constantly performing at venues and working with new characters.

“The beauty of this artform is that one can get completely creative and tell stories from all spectrums. If they concentrate on technical details, they can revisit myths, talk about life and what not!

The craft is in such a way that the actor has to take care of coordination between him and the characters and be in sync to project what is in his mind. The audience knows that the entire art is an illusion and it depends on how best the actor can create the illusion.”  


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