Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dubbing... an essential part of Kollywood

When I was in Primary Three or something, watching weekend-morning cartoons was my life. Tamil movies was not really my area of interest since there are not much Tamil programmes for kids. Mom told me that normal Tamil kids watch Tamil movies for entertainment, so Tamil cartoons would end up as flops. Okay....

But then I still watched some Tamil movies with my parents. It did not take me long to realize that all the heroins had the same voice! What????????? Then mom gave this bombshell. "Aya, you see this girls all? So fair, right? They all not Tamilachi la, yar. All Hindi people. They cannot speak Tamil la. So they move their lips only. Somebody else speak for them. They act only, look beautiful, wear sexy mexy clothes, dance nicely... enough already."

Dubbing you say? It sounded pretty easy back then. But now, come to think of it, how can the cast concentrate on getting into the character and all that stuff when crew members shout lines for the actresses to parrot along.

It is unfair to say a heroin is an accomplished actress no matter how many awards she receive or the large following of fans she might have. Their effort is only perhaps slightly more than half the actual performance seen on screen since the dubbing artiste has to laugh, cry, yell for the actresses!

1) Here is a list of Tamil movie actress who cannot speak a word of Tamil and rely completely on dubbing artistes.

- Genelia D'Souza
- Bhoomika Chawla
- Shriya Saran
- Laila
- Sonali Bendre
- Malika Kapoor
- Tamanah Bhatia
- Reema Sen
- Sadha
- Sameera Reddy (Telugu, but cannot speak Tamil)
- Anushka Shetty (Telugu, but cannot speak Tamil)

2) And these are the actresses who can speak Tamil well, but not fluently enough to dub for themselves...

- Simran Bagga
- Jyothika Saravanan
- Bhavana
- Aishwarya Rai
- Nayanthara
- Gopika
- Shobana
- Shilpa Shetty
- Namitha
- Naghma
- Tabu
- Manisha Koirala
- Devyani

3) These are the few actresses who speak Tamil fluently and dub for themselves...

- Asin (Malayalee, but speaks Tamil well)
- Meera Jasmine (Malayalee, but speaks Tamil well)
- Navya Nair (Malayalee, but speaks Tamil well)
- Sneha (Telugu by birth, but uses her voice mostly like in Pirivom Sandipom)
- Pooja Umashankar (used her own voice in Naan Kadavul, since the role was award-worthy)
- Priyamani (would have not won her National Award, if she used a dubbing artiste)
- Esha Deol (Mani Ratnam had her dub for herself)
- Madhoo (I think)

4) This list consists of 'special case' actresses, for they are Tamilians by birth, but are not fluent in the language itself because of studying in a English-medium Convent school, or being raised outside Tamil Nadu.

- Trisha Krishnan (she dubbed for herself in Aayithu Ezhuthu only)

5) Some top Tamil actress of Tamilian origin have also used dubbing artistes for no specific reason...

- Meena
- Saranya
- Kushboo (reportedly was the first actress to give credit to her dubbing artiste, Anuradha)

Now here is how dubbing is done in for Tamil movies....

By now you guys should already know that Tamil movies are not shot with synchronous sound because old fashioned cameras are still used in India that does not record sound. Therefore, the cast's speech has to be recorded separately in dubbing studios, where they watch they repeat the same dialogue as they watch their own performance. Dubbing gives Tamil filmmakers the advantage of casting actors who don't speak the language! This shows us that even though Tamil movies may have grand sets and stunning visuals, low technology is applied in production.

Some popular dubbing artistes include:

a) Uma Bharani
- Meena in Avvai Shanmugi
- Saranya in Nayagan

* but both actress can speak Tamil very well!!!!!!!

b) KR Anuradha
- Khusboo in Mannan

c) Kaniha
- Sadha in Anniyan
- Shriya Saran in Sivaji

d) Deepa Venkat
- Simran in Kanathil Muthamithal
- Sneha in Pandi

e) Chinmayi
- Bhoomika in Silindru Oru Kaadhal
- Tanisha in Unnale Unnale
- Padmipriya in Sattham Podathey
- Trisha in Vinaythandi Varuvaaya

* for Sattham Podathey, director Vasanth had hero Prithiviraj dub his voice twice to get rid of the latter's Mallu accent, but he did not do the same with his heroin even though she speaks Tamil fairly well!!!!!!!! Gender discrimination!!!!!!!!!!

f) Saritha
- Nagma in Kaadhalan

e) Revathi
- Kajol in Minsaru Kanavu
- Tabu in Kandukondain Kandukondain

f) Banupriya
- Urmila Matondhkar in Indian
- Jayasudha in Alaipayuthey

g) Jayashree
- Geetha in Azhagan
- Jyothika in Pachaikili Muthacharam

h) Suhaishini Mani Ratnam
- Shobana in Thalapathi

i) Rohini
- Jyothika in Veetayaadu Vilaiyaadu
- Aishwarya Rai in Raavanan

* Aish trained with a professional to brush up on her Tamil so she could dub her own voice. Despite all the hype, director Mani Ratnam opted for Rohini to dub Aish's voice. Sob..sob..

j) DJ Suchitra
- Shriya Saran in Kanthaswamy

* Probably one of the worst dubbing in film history. Notice how Suchi's voice and Shriya's lip movement were not in sync most of the time!!!! Gosh... Shriya should just move to Hollywood since she speaks great American accented English like in The Other Side of The Line, which was okay, and Cooking With Stella.

Not known to many, but some actors also require dubbing services. Famous director Gautham Menon has dubbed for the villains of his movies - Jeevan in Kaakha Kaakha and Milind Soman in Pachaikili Muthacharam.

During the shooting of Minsara Kanavu, Prabhu Deva had a serious throat infection and it was Vikram who dubbed for him. Vikram also dubbed for Prabhu Deva and Abbas in the film V.I.P. Dubbing for two actors in the same movie! Wow!!!

Vikram then later also dubbed for Abbas in Kandukondein Kandukondein. Ravi Devnarayanan dubbed for Abbas in Minnale and also for Sham in Iyarkai. I think Abbas only dubbed for himself in Hey Ram where all the actors, even Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee dubbed their own voices despite knowing very little Tamil!

Dubbing artistes in the Tamil film industry claim they are only paid 1% of the salary the actors they dub for, despite contributing to almost half of the character's total performance! These dubbing artistes also say that speaking for long hours in different tones strain their vocal chords. Dubbing artiste S. Jayageetha dubbed for Shriya Reddy in Timiru, for which the latter received much critical acclaim. The dubbing artiste however had to wait for almost a moth until she got her voice back and was ready to return to work! Sad story....


  1. few things are wrong !!

    Jaysudha dubbed herself for Alaipayuthey.
    Geetha dubbed herself for Azhagan
    Shobana dubbed herself for Dhalapathy

    Saritha dubbed for Madhoo in Azhagan

  2. sorry it was sripriya who dubbe dfor jaysudha in Alaipayuthey

  3. Saritha dubbed for Nadhiya in m.Kumaran s/o Mahalakshmi
    Rohini had dubbed for Manisha Koirala in Maapillai

    For a brief matter Actress sulakshana had dubbed for Revathy in Punnagai mannan

  4. I understand what you mean! It's so unfair that the dubbing artistes get almost zero credit, when they also have to make an effort. It would be very nice if some actresses could dub for themselves like they do in the Western industry- for example, I would love to hear Jyothika and Aishwarya speaking Tamil. Trisha is also now starting to dub for herself- she did so in Samar.

  5. Yes its only sree priya who dubbed for jeyasudha in alaipayuthe

  6. nathiya voice in M. Kumaran is not saritha. Its voice of Sreeja ravi

  7. Ravi Devnarayan also dubbed for Rehman in Sangamam.

  8. @SUZEE: Shobhana did not dub for herself in Thalapathy. Listen carefully and you will hear Suhasini Maniratnam speaking on her behalf.
    Also, I think, Triaha dubbed in her own voice in Manmadhan Ambu as well.

  9. I am in doubt, who dubbed for trisha in movies like gilli, and also for anushka in movies like aranmanai


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