Of voices, tones and passion

Isabella: Does your step-brother ever talk?     
Phineas: Ferb? He’s more of a man of action.

This conversation between cartoon characters Phineas and his neighbour, Isabella from the American animated comedy-musical television series Phineas and Ferb (Disney Channel) is one of the few mouthed by dubbing artiste Rahul Sekar in Tamil as
part of the Tamil version of the series.

For Sekar, who started as a 10-year-old, dubbing for cartoons, and soon small-budget films, was a hobby that eventually became a livelihood. “As a 10-year-old, when I had the mike in hand, I started talking spontaneously without a retake for a small movie in which I acted and I was required to dub my own lines.  That is when someone told me that I have a good voice and all I needed was to register myself as a dubbing artiste,”
says the 19-year-old.

While many believe that to excel in the field, technical training  which includes voice modulation, lip sync, clarity of diction, dialogue delivery  and tone and pauses to synchronise with the character  is more important, artistes tell Metrolife that passion is a
bigger criterion.

“Dubbing works through understanding the emotion and a passion, and, for me, it is not a craft that can be learnt,” he says.

 “Like you play a game on your smartphone and it excites you, I get the same level of adrenaline rush when I go to the studio to dub,” adds Chennai-based Sekar.

Similarly, Mumbai-based Zubin Dubash, who is a chief strategy officer by profession, took to voicing to fulfil his passion. While he has given voice-overs or narrations for radio and television commercials, corporate, tutorials, on hold and voice mail messages, he has also done “voice acting” for audio books for children. “I used to be a karaoke singer in my college days. Naturally, I had a flair for voices. Though I was looking to pursue voicing for the last 10-12 years, it wasn’t until two-and-a-half years ago when I applied to a two-day voice training programme,” says Dubash, who practices and records early mornings and late evenings at his home set-up comprising of mikes, recording equipment and sound-proof booths.

The 39-year-old mentions that as a “creative pursuit”, he makes sure to not count it as a profession. “I am not a full-time artiste. It is a creative pursuit that I am
fulfilling and that is why, whatever I make out of it, I give to deserving charities,” says Dubash.

However, actor and comedian Seshu, who has been dubbing his own lines for his southern TV shows and films for the past 16 years, says one needs to be aware of the “reality” as well. He says, “Even today, I have seen artistes getting assignments based on how strong their network is. If you don’t turn up for a few recordings, the job will go to someone else who is competent. Though I dub my own lines, one needs to
survive the competition. A lot of youngsters are professionally trained today and are readily available.”

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