Even actors never gave dubbing artists credit: Sreeja Ravi

Sreeja, who has dubbed for over 135 actors till date, says she's being recognised better for her work these days. (R) Sreeja with her daughter Raveena. Photos: Instagram | ajmalphotography

Dubbing artist Sreeja Ravi, who is making her presence felt onscreen as an actor currently, believes she is being recognised better for her work nowadays. The voice artist-turned-actress, who has dubbed for many prominent actresses, including Kavya Madhavan, Shalini, Nayanthara and Roma, also admits that social media has helped bring people like her to the limelight.

“There was a time when dubbing artists did not receive much appreciation for their art, though directors knew they were an important part of the films' success. Even the actors were not willing to mention our names. Probably because they didn't want the public to know otherwise,' says Sreeja, recently seen in films like 'Kadina Kadoramee Andakadaham' and '2018'.

Sreeja says there was a time when she felt disheartened by the lack of recognition voice artists like her faced, but she understands how the industry works.

'It's every actor's dream to be able to dub for themselves, so I understand why the actors probably didn't give us the due. I would have an itch, too, if I heard someone else dubbing for me. I remember how Kavya Madhavan would beg for a chance to dub in her voice every time. Poor thing. But they never give her a chance,” recalls Sreeja, who has worked as a dubbing artist in over 2,000 films in the past 48 years.

"Directors brought in dubbing artists for several reasons. Either the actor could not balance their vocal energy level onscreen or because of a language barrier, etc. If you notice, very few actresses gave interviews in the past, and people didn't know how they sounded. Probably, the directors worried about people's reactions to their voices," she said.

According to her, the concept of female voices has changed in Malayalam cinema these days. “In the 80s and 90s, people associated women actresses with sweeter, softer voices. That has changed now, and people have accepted women with rougher, bolder voices. I don't think people can now imagine seeing feminine characters played by Shobana or Urvashi onscreen," she adds.

The Chennai-based artist, however, feels voice artists are facing some challenges nowadays due to the prominence of sync sound in movies. “The prominence in sync sound has left people in my category with fewer opportunities. Also, young actors dub their dialogues, unlike in the past. These are some of the challenges we face," she said.

'Some people can't dissociate my voice from my face'
Sreeja, who played Basil's and Tovino's mother in two recent films, says some people find it hard to disassociate her voice from her face. "I saw a few comments that suggested they can't accept me speaking in my voice because it reminds them of Kavya Madhavan. I have dubbed for nearly 135 actresses, but they only had this issue when I decided to dub in my voice. I have played mother roles in my recent films, and people generally associate mothers with a base, firm voice, which I don't have. This is probably the issue. It may take time, but I'm sure people will associate me with my voice gradually.

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