Q. 1 Are the animated characters that you have dubbed for in Rio 2 anything like you?
Imran Khan: If you see part 1, one can’t help but notice Blu’s awkward sense of humour. He stutters, stammers and has a unique, sarcastic way of talking. Somehow, I could relate to him. His sense of humour is a lot like mine. One look at the character and a few scenes from the film and I understood his personality immediately. I knew that I could handle this kind of humour and madness.
Sonakshi Sinha: I am a big fan of animated films. I am so much like Jewel and some of her characteristics bear an uncanny resemblance to my own personality. She is chirpy, wild, exotic and responsible at the same time. She also had a rowdy streak, which I do as well (laughs).
Q. 2 Was it your voice texture or personality that helped you bag the project?
IK: The voice casting director, Mona Shetty of Sound and Vision, thought I fitted the bill. I have absolutely no idea about the technicalities. She told me that I was the perfect person to do justice to this character. I think a lot of it has to do with my personality, rather than just my voice as such.
SS: Hands down, my personality! Plus, I have worked with Fox Star Studios’ Bullett Raja and maybe that’s how it worked.
Q. 3 Do you think voice-over is slightly more difficult than acting in front of a camera, since you only have your voice to perform?
IK: The first day behind the mic was absolutely weird, because when we dub for our own films, we match something that we have done. Here, the macaw is an animated version and his beak kept moving. So as a voice-over artist, I had to match the character’s lip movement. But once I figured out that I am not restrictive anymore or tied to my own body on the screen, I got the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do with my voice. That’s when I started to have fun!
SS: You are not used to seeing a different character on the screen while dubbing for your own film, so in that way, it was a different experience. Imagine, you suddenly see yourself as a bird. It was a bit weird at first, but as I started working on it, I realised that the emotions of these well designed animated characters were absolutely real. Within hours, I realised that I had become Jewel.
Q. 4 How many recording sessions did the two of you require to complete this project?
SS: I made sure that I keep two full days free for this project. We had back- to- back recording sessions, so it helped. I kept wanting to do more and enjoyed myself so much, that I didn’t realise when we finished work already.
IK: Same. Almost two days, I think.
Q. 5 How did you deal with lip syncing perfectly under the director’s supervision as that can be quite a task?
IK: Oh! It was a big problem. The lip syncing is done according to the English lines. So, you have to try and choose Hindi words that will match the ongoing scene. Getting the timing right was crazy. A lot of times, translations made by the writer would not match the scenario, did not suit the flow or the lip sync. For e.g, if the English line goes as, ‘No problem’, the translation would read as, ‘Koi problem nahin hain‘, which is longer. That’s when we would change the lines or improvise on the spot. A lot of on the spot actions take place during the recording sessions.
SS: Personally, I feel it was easier, especially since I was dubbing for a macaw, who have beaks. Their lips are not exactly moving, like how a human animated character’s would. You can’t really lip read the dialogues as such, so, it was all okay.
Q. 6 Sonakshi how was the experience of singing a few lines in the dance number?
SS: I enjoyed it! It’s a situation where they are dancing in the carnival and the voice directors asked me to sing a few lines. I asked them to get a professional, but I was informed that Imran had sung his lines too. I was totally shocked, because knowing Imran Khan, he doesn’t even say a word and I just thought, ‘Sona, yaar Imran ne gaana gaa liya?‘ I just went with it and since the situation required someone to sing normally, I thought it looked nice. In fact, I wanted to sing more. There is an adorable lullaby in the film, but I sang it so badly, that they roped in someone else.
Q. 7 Did you require any form of voice modulation for your respective characters?
IK: Nothing at all! I just played the character like I would in real life. The dialogue delivery was extremely natural and I didn’t have to change my voice at all.
SS: Not really. I was given the complete freedom to experiment with my character, be it the sounds that she makes or her dialogue delivery. I think I got that freedom because I am an actor and my personality matches the character. Otherwise, they could have roped in any other artist.
Q. 8 As a kid or even today, is there any animated character that you felt like lending your voice to?
IK: Not as a kid, because I never wanted to be an actor (laughs). But today, I would love to lend my voice to Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. I have always loved the work done by the original voice actor, Tim Allen. There is something about his voice and the personality. He is so kadak, yet so fascinating.
SS: Ariel from The Little Mermaid! (smiles) As a kid, I aspired to grow up and become a mermaid. Until I realised that mermaids don’t exist. I remember that someone had spread a rumour about some mermaid at Taraporevala Aquarium. I kept asking my parents, how can there be a mermaid? I wanna be one as well.
Q. 9 Do you think the trend of actors doing voice-overs for animated films is still in its infancy in India and needs to tried more often?
IK: But to be fair, it is only in the last 15 years that Hollywood took up this idea and roped in renowned actors to dub for animated characters. If you go back in time, it wasn’t that big a trend in the west either. So in a way, it’s new for them as well. I think it’s only with Shrek that they started thinking of animated films as a platform to rope in big stars as voice-over artists. I think within ten years, we will be good enough to make animated films with a big budget and huge voice cast. Aisa zaroor hoga!
SS: I think that is because even the Indian animation industry is still growing. The Hollywood animation industry took some time to reach the level where it is today and I think in India, we are still going good. Our quality maybe much lesser when compared to the international films, but we do have the potential to do better. I think once we start putting money, the quality will upgrade as well.
Q. 10 So, are you open to doing more of such projects in the future?
IK: I have already told Mona to call me whenever she starts working on her next animated project (laughs). The day we finished recording, I told her that I am all gung ho about more of such stuff. Poora open offer hain! Call me for any film and I will come.
SS: After this experience, I am definitely looking forward to such offers.