Mic check time with young India

Children's Day is here. What better way to let the kids take centrestage than by saluting a few voices who have give life, character and loads of laughter to some of India's most popular on-screen characters. Dhara Vora goes behind the scenes for a sound check with three young voice over artists

Some of Hollywood's most notable adult voice artists including Clarence Nash (Donald Duck) and Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Tweety) created history with their vocal chords to gain fame and recognition.

Today, the trend continues, as some of our young geniuses are able to juggle school bags and mikes. These little stars (as young as five) lend their voices to popular cartoon characters who we follow on television, sing jingles and even dub Hollywood blockbuster remakes in regional languages.

"Children have plenty of other commitments starting from school to sports and other hobbies. Hence it's difficult to work with them when we have to shoot for ten episodes of cartoons at a stretch, as they can't do it full time. Also it's easier to direct women than kids.

Hence, due to the shorter working periods, kids are preferred more for commercials than cartoon shows which are dubbed in bulk," says Ashwini Kulkarni, who works for a dubbing team at a popular kids channel. Nowadays, several professional courses for kids mean that several parents consider it a good field for their kids to work in, he believes. This Children's Day, The Guide spoke to three of these undercover rock stars and got a glimpse of their life behind the mike.

Aphrodite Biswas, aka Rai, 11 years
"I did my first assignment for a milk brand when I was six. My mum's a dubbing artist and that's how I got into it," says Aphrodite. She dubs for commercials in four South-Indian languages, Bengali, English and even Assamese. She has worked for regional dubbing of animated movies such as Happy Feet, Toy Story and a character in Tinker Bell.

A few of the long list of commercials that Aphrodite has worked for include Mercedes Benz, Clinic plus, Colgate and Pepsodent. She has dubbed for the regional versions of various Hollywood films such as Happy Feet, Toy Story and a character in Tinker Bell, "I would love to give the voice of Tinker Bell," she adds.

Aphrodite lists one of her most memorable moments to be the Maruti Suzuki campaign with adman and film director Balki. One thing that she finds difficult to do is dub in Malayalam. Aphrodite who is a student of Ryan International School says "My friends too want to get into dubbing. Sometimes they even get jealous."

Anubhab Saha, 14 years
Anubhab started dubbing when he was in third grade. His first assignment was the voice of little Ganesha in the movie My Friend Ganesha (Parts 1,2 and 3). He went on to win hearts. Since then there's been no looking back.
Anubhab has dubbed in Hindi for various Hollywood movies for television including Zathura, Jumanji and The Golden Compass. "I had a lot of fun dubbing for the movie Panga Ganga (2010). The entire movie was very funny," says Anubhab.

He has also dubbed in various regional languages including Malayalam, Telugu, Bengali, Avadhi (for Aparna Sen's The Japanese Wife), Assamese and Gujarati. The Standard Nine student of Rajhans Vidyalaya in Andheri lists meeting Aamir Khan while dubbing for Taare Zameen Par and being interviewed by a popular Radio Jockey as the highlight of his career.

"For the short film God lives in the Himalayas, I had to dub for a guy whose parents get killed. That was the toughest part for me," says Anubhab who also lists singing a jingle for Horlicks as one of his favourite works.

But perhaps his most well known character that kids will connect to today is the voice of Phineas of the popular show on Disney, Phineas and Ferb, where he is one of the super intelligent twin brothers.

As for his studies, his mother who has also worked as a dubbing artist in Bengali, keeps a strict watch on him but has also not totally stopped him from dubbing as he considers it as his hobby. Apart from dubbing, Anubhab has also done a few television soaps.

5 famous voices you've heard before
The voices behind some of hollywood's best loved animation characters
1. Alexander gould as nemo in finding nemo (2003)
2. Jonathon taylor thomas as young simba in the lion king (1994)
3. Jorden Nagai as Rusel the boyscout in up (2009)
4. Spencer fox as dash in the incredibles (2004)
5. Mae whitman as tinker bell in tinker bell and the mysterious wonder woods (2011)

Yohan Vikram Singh, 10 years
"It's an AC room and I have a very comfy sofa," is the reply from this 10-year-old when asked about what he likes most about being a dubbing artist. Yohan, who also does theatre, has been dubbing since the age of nine.

Most popular for his work for Bal Hanuman, Chhatrapati Shivaji and Bal Ganesh, he candidly reveals his friend's reactions about his work, "When I first told them that it was my voice, they thought I was fooling them. I narrated a few lines and they had to believe that it was me!"

Yohan remembers when he had to stuff his mouth with laddoos and burp for a scene (he got right in five takes). He adds with a chuckle "One of my best parts was when I had to kill a monster. It felt so nice!" When asked about how he manages his studies, he says, "I don't study much," though his mother ensures that his grades don't drop.

His 8-year-old brother Varun Singh has also worked with Yohan. Yohan lists Tom and Jerry as the favourite cartoon that he would love to lend his voice to. When we inform him that Tom and Jerry cartoons don't include dialogues he replies, matter of factly, "I love these for its sound effects," and goes on to give us a demo.

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