Even as SS Rajmouli’s ‘RRR’ is creating a storm at the box office, Shobi Thilakan who dubbed for Ram Charan is garnering a lot of praise. This is his fourth Rajamouli film and he couldn’t be happier. Though many were skeptical about whether Shobi’s voice will suit Ram Charan, its writer Mangombu Gopalakrishnan had faith in the veteran dubbing artist.
Shobi has been a fixture of all the other language films which were rewritten into Malayalam by Mangombu Gopalakrishnan. It’s not surprising that Shobi who won the state award for giving voice to Sharath Kumar in 'Pazhassiraja' is such a superior voice artist considering his father is the indomitable Thilakan who can hold a crowd with just a gentle murmur. Shobi talks to Manorama online about his experiences with Rajamouli, Ram Charan, 'RRR' and his favourite Mangombu.
This is my fourth association with Rajamouli sir. The first one was ‘Eecha’ and I gave voice to Kiccha Sudeep. Later I dubbed for 'Bahubali 1' and 2. This time I dubbed for Ram Charan Teja. I think it’s a special experience to work for Rajamouli sir, his making is thrilling to watch. And as a voice artist, it gives me deep satisfaction.
It was through Mangombu Gopalakrishnan sir that I got the opportunity to be part of these films. He has dubbed a lot of other language films into Malayalam. I wasn’t aware of what I signed up for when I dubbed 'Eecha'. I thought it was just one of those usual Telugu films. But it got instantly noticed and children loved it. When Mangombu sir writes the dubbed dialogues in Malayalam, it feels like you are watching a new Malayalam film. His writing is authentic.
I am very close to him. My first state award was thanks to him as he was the one who suggested my name to dub for Sharath Kumar in 'Pazhassiraja'. Since I haven’t dubbed for Ram Charan, people were skeptical about whether my voice will match him but Mangombu sir had confidence in me. Ram Charan in 'RRR' is a bold character who initially shows grey shades and gives the impression of siding with the British. Maybe I was called because he felt a softer voice won't suit such a character.
While doing Rajamouli sir’s films we have a lot of discussions. There will be me, Vijayakumar who is Rajamouli sir’s assistant, Mangombu Gopalakrishnan sir, other dubbing artists, and technicians assembled together to discuss the Malayalam dubbing. We would discuss in detail how Malayalees would react to the dialogues. When it comes to other language films, their expressions are slightly over-the-top. Our meter is different. Mangombu sir writes powerful dialogues. And that film required such dialogues. Ideally, we don’t really use such dialogues in daily conversations. Because we speak very casually. But then dialogues with such bombast help in generating power for the film. Then of course we have to match the actor’s lip-syncing too. I am a proud Indian. And I felt that while dubbing for a character who was revolting against the British. One should thank Mangombu sir for such power-packed dialogues packed with patriotism.
Also, I thought Ram Charan has done a fabulous job. When you dub for other language films, lip-sync will always be an issue. A dubbing artist requires great timing and that timing will be there as long as the actor you dub for is good. When I dubbed for Ram Charan I was able to follow the meter correctly. Like getting that correct ball in cricket while batting that will hit a six. After the release of 'RRR', people are complimenting Ram Charan’s acting and my dubbing. I am sure like 'Bahubali', 'RRR' will also be part of Indian cinema’s history. I think whenever we work for a Rajamouli film we are also becoming part of history.
Currently, I am dubbing for Kiccha Sudeep for the Kannada film 'Drona', which will release in July. Along with 'Eecha' I have dubbed for 3 or 4 films of the actor. For 'Drona', I am giving two types of voices for Sudeep. The character goes through two types of emotional upheavals. The film has two parts. For a new film, I have dubbed for this star called Binoj (who is also the producer of the film) in a certain way.
I have a film called ‘Pendulum’ directed by Rejin S Babu headlined by Vijay Babu awaiting release. Some films which I acted in before the pandemic is also awaiting release. I have also acted in Kunjumon Taha’s ‘Ashtamudi Couples’ which was the last film captured by cinematographer MJ Radhakrishnan. It was Taha who first introduced me in Malayalam cinema.
I am playing a cop in the Jeethu Joseph-Mohanlal film ‘Ram.’ That also means in my family three of us have played a cop in a Mohanlal film. My father, Shammi chettan and now I had the opportunity. I even shared this with Lalettan. Dates haven’t been announced yet. I am also acting in serials like ‘Kudumba Vilakku’, ‘Mathavu’, ‘Amma Ariyathe,’ and ‘Manjil Virinja Poovu.’ I am so glad things are getting back to normal after the harrowing Covid time.