The world has become a small place where content is distributed to every nook and corner of the human habitats. Using the commonly understood language of English, movies are made available to everyone no matter which corner of the world they are hidden through different modes of content sharing. The only setback is when the audience isn’t comfortable with this internationally accepted language. But, it is equally important to spread the high-quality content as this also includes knowledge sharing, awareness spreading, and message distributing. Thus, in today’s time, most of the high-scale content is backed by different languages targeting regional groups. To do so, the industry is filled with expert voice-over artists who deliver the dialogues in a perfect sync to the actor’s delivery. These voice-over artists are trained to blend well with the character’s image and personality to make sure the voice suits well with the features of the character. The end result is that the dubbed movies feel very original in comparison to its real version, and is released in as many languages as desired. With easy availability and a large number of voice-over artists, the lag time for development of regional versions or regional to English version has zeroed down to a minimum.
When a Hollywood movie is released in English, the majority of them opt for Hindi dubs so as to target 100% of the Indian audience. According to a recent survey, Hindi-speaking Indians continue to rule over English-speaking in numbers. Thus, Hollywood movies before releasing in India approaches the voice-over companies and experts to make-ready the Hindi version for release alongside the English version. Additionally, there is a clear developing trend in which movies are also getting dubbed in Telugu and Tamil languages due to its popularity and demand. In a way, the Indian artists are given with opportunities to work in Hollywood movies.
Focusing on one genre of movies, animation—recent years have seen a parade of foreign animated movies released and hugely accepted in India. These movies find their way into Hindi, and sometimes other languages too. Targeted specifically to the kids, but worth-a-watch for all age groups, the dubbed versions of these animated movies are preferred more due to the diversity in the language group.
The question is who are the privileged ones? Bollywood actors or professional voice-over artists? Over a couple of years, we have noticed that various Bollywood actors have received the chance to perform in big names from the animation industry. Their popularity merged with the movie’s popularity takes them to a different level altogether.
Actors who have dubbed for popular Hollywood movie characters:
Amitabh Bachchan |BFG in The BFG (2016)
Arjun Kapoor | Buck the Weasel in Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
Nana Patekar | Sher Khan in The Jungle Book (2016)
Vinay Pathak | Pedro in Rio (2011)
Shah Rukh Khan | Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles (2004)
Priyanka Chopra | Kaa in The Jungle Book (2016), Ishani in Planes (2013)
Sonakshi Sinha | Jewel in Rio 2 (2014)
Irrfan Khan | Baloo in The Jungle Book (2016)
Imran Khan | Blu in Rio 2 (2014)
Aryan Khan | Dash in The Incredibles (2004)
Om Puri | Bagheera in The Jungle Book (2016)
Ranvir Shorey | Nico in Rio (2011)
Rajesh Khattar | Shrek in Shrek series, Buck in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) & Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), Dr. Cockroach in Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), Grug Crood in The Croods (2013)
Looking at the list above and considering all those which are not mentioned here due to their significance, Bollywood actors had a gala time in securing dubbing assignments for popular characters in animation. One of the reasons is their popularity status and likeliness for their unique voices. Freelance artists and non-bollywood professionals attain work, but mostly in the form of working on the sidekicks or the less-popular characters of the movie. It’s a common belief among the studios that when they approach a popular actor for a film, people are excited to hear their favourite actor’s voice. Against the absolute anonymity of voice artists, the aristocratic name of a star can certainly prove to be a valuable asset. One such example is the latest Incredibles 2 which had Kajol Mukharjee dubbing for Elastigirl, and did it not make through the talk of the town? Whereas, when a freelance artist such as Neshma Chemburkar dubs for a character as popular as Officer Judy Hopps in Zootopia, the hype is not created and the artist is left behind the curtains forever.
Is it fair for those artists whose career is voice-casting? Is it fair for the viewers to be kept in the blind about the artists they enjoyed hearing? I believe both deserve equal and that equality will be achieved when they are treated equally. If we have an interview on Kajol for her dubbing experience, we should have other not-so-popular voice-over artist’s interview too—popular in terms of visibility and not talent.
In an interview regarding Incredibles 2, Kajol had spoken, “The process of dubbing is very normal, even I don’t like to dub my own voice. It is one of the most painful, boring processes ever! Especially when you are dubbing for yourself it is bad enough, but when you are dubbing for someone else it is twice as worse. But the point is the whole idea of dubbing for Elastigirl, that was what was so exciting about it,”
Yes, the voice-over business is extremely competitive. Having a brand that makes an artist stand out from the competition is imperative. Thus, choosing wisely is the best solution for the voice-over experts.