'Bipasha dislikes my voice in Jism.'
'Everyone liked my voice and it did wonders for her and even for me. But she disliked it tremendously. She was very upset. She refused to do the promotions for the film because I dubbed her voice.'
Meet dubbing artist Mona Ghosh Shetty.
Actresses not only have to look good in the movies, they have to sound good as well.
So what happens if they don't quite get it right?
It's time for Mona Ghosh Shetty to step in.
A dubbing artist, Mona has dubbed for Rani Mukerji, Bipasha Basu, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Nargis Fakhri and many more actresses.
Image: Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji in Ghulam
She discusses her work, and Bollywood's leading ladies, with Patcy N/ Rediff.com
Did dubbing come naturally to you since your mother Leela Roy Ghosh was a dubbing artist as well?
It was an easy choice because I had so much exposure to it. To learn the art and craft and the technicalities was very easy.
People knew me so getting work was easy.
I started doing it when I was a child, as a hobby. When a hobby turns into a profession, you don’t feel like you are working; you feel like you are at play, so it is fun.
At what age did you first dub for someone?
I must have started when I was five years old. I have an award that I received in 1980, when I was six. I must have started at least a year before that.
I was doing ads. There was not so much dubbing happening at that time; it started much later.
I remember dubbing for the old Rasna ads in various languages -- ‘I Love You Rasna’ became so popular in the Hindi ad that I was asked to dub in all the other regional ads.
How did your mother start dubbing?
My mother was a singer. She tried to get singing jobs in films and music albums. She has released a few albums of ghazals.
Because she was a singer, she was asked to do voice-overs and dubbing and sing jingles.
My Nikhilesh Ghosh father was an ad filmmaker.
In how many languages do you dub?
I dub in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Oriya professionally.
But if a Katrina Kaif ad becomes popular then I have to do it in all the 10 official regional languages: Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Marathi, Oriya and Assamese.
I don’t know all the languages. There is always a supervisor who tells you about the nuances of the language and how it should be spoken.
When did you start dubbing for films?
I did my first film dubbing for a Hindi film called Nirnayak (1997). I dubbed for an actress called Indrani Banerjee.
But I became popular after Ghulam, when I dubbed for Rani Mukerji.
How do you know how to modulate the voice for a particular actor?
We have to listen to the voice as the footage already has the actress’s voice on it. Then, you should reproduce the voice in the best way you can.
You dub to better the voice of the actress, so you have to ask the producer what it is that he is looking for.
Some may say to clear the accent. Some may say that she has performed well but I don’t like her voice quality, some may say her voice sounds too young and they want a more mature voice.
For Jism, I was asked to make Bipasha sound husky and sensuous.
I often dub for newcomers whose dialogue delivery is faulty.
Why did Rani Mukerji’s voice have to be dubbed? She does her own dubbing now.
When a new actor is being introduced, filmmakers don’t want to go with somebody with a husky voice and whose accent is not right.
Now Rani dubs her own voice, and people have accepted her as an actress. It doesn't bother anyone that her voice is husky.
I dubbed for Kajol because she was not available for dubbing for Dushman. The film had so much screaming and she had a double role so she lost her voice for a few days. She did some part of it and I did the rest.
I dubbed for Deepika Padukone in Om Shanti Om because she had an accent problem.
When actresses start dubbing for their movies later, does it bother you?
No, it doesn’t.
What upsets me is that nobody wants to give us credit for it. They want to hide the fact that this actress’s voice was dubbed.
Have you dubbed something and then been asked to do it again because your voice did not match the actress’s face?
I have had actresses coming and telling me what a pathetic job I did.
Rani hates her dub in Ghulam because she can’t identify with the voice -- it is completely different. She said I wouldn't say the dialogue like this.
All actors dislike the fact that their own voice is not used.
Do you meet the actors before modulating for them?
Rarely. I meet them sometimes and that too by chance.
What must you do to keep your voice in good condition?
I avoid having cold things, anything with ice, because if I catch a cold I can’t work for four days.
I don’t have any particular regimen. But if we are working for long hours then the throat needs rest, so you talk less and keep soothing it with something warm, like warm water.
Have you ever lost your voice?
Yes, while dubbing for Nargis Fakhri for Rockstar.
I kept losing my voice because they wanted me to scream, especially when she gets drunk on the college campus and starts screaming.
I kept on losing my voice dubbing that. As soon as my voice was a bit better I would dub again and lose my voice again. This process went on.
Normally I finish dubbing in one or two days, but for Rockstar we dubbed for 10 days.
Your dubbing was questioned in the film because the lip sync did not match, apparently.
Yes, it was questioned because I was making her speak straight Hindi and she spoke anglicised Hindi, so there was a mismatch between the dubbing and what she had originally spoken.
We tried, but we could not have dubbed the way she had originally spoken.
Actually, Imtiaz (director Imtiaz Ali) wanted me to speak like her.
I said if you want me to speak like her then what’s the point in me doing the dubbing, because then I would have to fake my voice. So then we decided to go with a proper Hindi dialogue.
Which actresses have been happy with your voice?
Nargis was happy.
Ameesha Patel was very appreciative.
Deepika is happy; she keeps recommending me to all her producers.
Katrina is happy and recommends me to her producers when she is unavailable, mostly for ad films.
I really like Deepika and Katrina’s work a lot. Now Katrina dubs for her own films.
Bipasha Basu’s Jism gave your voice huge recognition.
Bipasha dislikes my voice.
Everyone liked my voice and it did wonders for her and even for me. But she disliked it tremendously. She was very upset.
She refused to do the promotions for the film because I dubbed her voice.
Nowadays, they put it in their contract that nobody will dub their voice without their consent. But that was not the case earlier.
For some of Bipasha’s later films, I had to take her consent to do the dubbing.
Do you really have to get the consent of the actress to dub for her?
Sometimes, if a producer doesn't want to pay the actress (for the dubbing), he will get a dubbing artist to dub the film.
This has happened to me so I insist on seeing the NOC from the actress.
Once, after dubbing, I came to know that the producer and the actress had legal issues. I asked the producer not to use my voice.
There are times when I have done a voice audition for a film, and just that one portion that I had auditioned for was used in the film and the rest was done by the actress!
It is strange but that has happened.
How much is a dubbing artist paid?
Anything from Rs 500 to Rs 5 lakh, depending on the work.
People, who do a perfect match, ask for Rs 10 lakh too.
You have set-up a sound studio…
We set up our studio in 1992. We did the Hindi dubbing for Jurassic Park , and for Shakti Samantha’s films.
My mother is very professional and hardworking and people kept asking her to start her own studio. We dub 25 films a year. All the English movies are done in three languages: Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
We did Bang Bang Bang, Happy New Year, and Dhoom 3 in Tamil and Telugu, and Gunday in Bengali.
Do you train actresses too?
Yes but I don’t want to name anyone.
I dub a guide track for actresses, who want to dub on their own.
I train male actors to modulate their voice with the scripts, and sometimes after the shoot.
What is a guide track?
I dub the whole film and then they listen to it and dub it.
Nowadays I do mostly this. I dub it and people copy it. I still dub for Jacqueline Fernandez
Which Hollywood actresses have you dubbed for?
I did Milla Jovovich in the Resident Evil series, Halle Berry, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta Jones, Angelina Jolie and Kate Beckinsale.