The popularity of Allu Arjun is beyond question. Why? Most of his movies were dubbed into Malayalam, being quite a rage among the youngsters. Also, Malayalis would not have conferred the “Mallu Arjun” title for him for no reason. An influential factor carved a space for a Telugu actor like Allu Arjun among Malayalis. The reason being, Jis Joy!
Jis Joy, a prominent director in Malayalam cinema, got his initial fame as the voice of Allu Arjun. Any dubbed movie of Allu Arjun in Malayalam would have Jis Joy’s sound. This might be a shocker to some of you! Allu Arjun and Jis Joy combo was unknowingly the finest actor-voice artist combo of the time.
Must Check Out: Mollywood Actors Who Were Dubbing Artists Too
This serves as an example of the importance of voice artists in cinema. Voice actors are artists who provide voice-overs for characters or who perform in radio dramas or plays. They also provide sound for audiobooks, advertisements, e-learning courses, etc. It is understood that dubbing and voice-over artists are indispensable to the cinema industry.
With the popularity of dubbed movies and soap operas in Malayalam cinema, the roles and responsibilities of a voice artist have also been established and known among the general public. I hope you already know; if not, pardon me for breaking your bubble in the subsequent sections that might illuminate the dubbing artists and their prominent works in Malayalam cinema.
Why are dubbing artists necessary?
Directors can employ dubbing artists for multiple reasons.
Reason 1: If a director feels an actor’s voice wouldn’t suit his/her character, the director could opt for a voice artist.
Reason 2: If a movie is to be dubbed into other languages. The advent of Pan-Indian movies has greatly popularized the works of dubbing artists across the country.
Reason 3: The director of a movie could use voices that better convey or set the mood of a narrative.
Reason 4: If the actor is a non-Malayalam speaker, then the director has no other option than to opt for voice artists.
Now, let’s explore a few voice artists and the movies that created a space for them, just with their voice’s presence.
Who would’ve thought Vivek Oberoi’s evil Malayalam-speaking character would be so convincing in ‘Lucifer‘? Kudos to this actor-voice-actor combo that made the antagonism work. Vineeth has also worked in movies like ‘Kaduva‘ (dubbing for Vivek Oberoi), ‘Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham‘, etc.
Vineeth won the 2020 Kerala State Film Award for Best Dubbing Artist for his contributions to ‘Lucifer‘ and ‘Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham‘.
This late voice artist was a true legend in the dubbing field. She has worked in several films in a career spanning over 40 years. Anandavally was awarded the Kerala State Film Award for Best Dubbing Artist in 1992 for ‘Aadhaaram.’ She holds a mighty feat of dubbing for more than 50 films in a single year (1993).
Her prominent works familiar to the younger audience include ‘Lucifer‘ (for Sreeya Ramesh [the actor playing the role of Gomathi]), ‘Big B‘ (for Nafisa Ali [the actor playing the role of Mary John]), etc.
Devi S. is a National award winner and multiple State award winner for her contributions to various films in dubbing. If you want to get a sense of her voice, recollect the last few performances of Meena in Malayalam cinema. Yes, it was Devi S. who dubbed for Meena in movies like ‘Bro Daddy,’ ‘Drishyam 1 & 2‘, etc., and similarly many other actors.
Sreeja Ravi needs no introduction to those following Malayalam cinema over the years. A legend with four Kerala State Film Awards and one Tamil Nadu State Film Award, along with numerous other accolades in the field of dubbing. Her voice is so sweet and attractive that is stays with the viewers. Her voice for Shalini, Kavya Madhavan, Divya Unni, etc., tops the list of her contributions.
Remember Shalini’s voice in ‘Aniyathipraavu,’ ‘Niram’ and Kavya Madhavan’s ‘Classmates,’ ‘Lion’; yes, all done by the legend, Sreeja Ravi herself. She has even dubbed for child characters in the movies like ‘Malooty,’ ‘Priyam,’ etc.
Bhagyalakshmi is undoubtedly one of the most popular dubbing artists in Kerala, also known for her acting and writing career. She has garnered multiple State Film awards and a National Film Award for her contributions to dubbing. Most of Shobana’s films were dubbed by Bhagyalakshmi, including ‘Manichithrathazhu,’ ‘Varane Avashyamunde,’ etc. You would have sensed her voice in your mind by now.
Shammi Thilakan, the son of the late legend Thilakan, is undoubtedly one of the most versatile actors in Kerala. But his contributions to the field of dubbing can never be undermined. He was awarded the Kerala State Film Award for Best Dubbing twice.
Prakashraj’s voice in ‘Odiyan,’ Mundakal Shekaran’s’ voice in ‘Ravanprabhu’ and ‘Devasuram,’ and Hyder Marakkar’s’ voice in ‘Dhruvam‘ were all Shammi Thilakan’s talent, which provided the bass powerful tone to all these characters.
Understanding and appreciating the voice of dubbing artists in Malayalam cinema would never be possible in this single article alone, and I have merely tried to initiate the search among the artists in the dubbing field. Thus, feel free to add your thoughts and artists that you have noticed.
It’s worth considering the recognition that dubbing artists in Malayalam cinema receive. Many of us don’t bother to look beyond the surface and acknowledge the voices that bring authenticity and believability to the performances we see on screen. I believe that voice artists should be recognized as equally important as actors. While actors rely on visual cues to convey emotions, voice artists are able to express and emote solely through their vocal talents. It’s important to give this profession the respect and value it deserves.