By Soumya Raj:
The most mundane stories come alive when a voice with a cadence, with a lift, narrates it. We can call it by any name. Narratology, voice rendering, voice artist, voiceover; but the profession which goes by so many labels is more an art with a technique, than a job acquired for money. Our voice is an extension of our character, our personality. Who cannot be won over by the baritone that is the trademark of Amitabh Bachchan, the grandeur of his voice which compliments his persona so well, or the smooth and deliberated narration of Morgan Freeman? These voices which are often faceless, sometimes present on stage, sometimes not, creating an ambience of sensuality and rhythm to whoever person or whichever show/movie they’re lent. For something that appeals to just one sense, which goes through your ears and lands in your heart, it is truly a talent honed by hard work and persistence and bestowed to a handful by nature herself.
A voice artist’s voice is his hand, and words his clay. He can mold it into a beautiful statue with impressions and embossments, and embellish it with his clarity of speech. Or he can speak out flatly, and make it sound like any boring, next to nothing story. More often than the story, what lulls us into a state of hypnotic attention are the beats and the grandeur of the voice which is narrating it. Without a voice to impart personality into a narrative, one may not feel the lure or the urge to listen to it any further. Here is a list of ten of the most magnificent voices which weave magic for any listener.
Morgan Freeman: His suave and strong voice is best known for his role as a God in many films. His voice is calming, beautiful and enticing. It soothes like nothing other and I’m sure, if there is an Almighty, he has a voice akin to Freeman’s.
Mel Blanc: Known as the “man of a thousand voices”, his voice and speech skills have landed him in Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame”. He was the face behind Bugs Bunny’s nasal, “What’s up, doc?”
Ameen Sayani: Winner of 2009 Padma Shri award, Ameen Sayani’s well-modulated and stylized speech skills are best known for Radio Ceylon’s Binaca Geetmala of the 1980’s era.
Harish Bhimani: The famous narrative voice of B.R Chopra’s television series Mahabharata, renowned for his “Main samay hoon…”
Alec Baldwin: Apart from being a commendable actor both for films and various TV series, Baldwin’s polished voice has been a host to many radio shows, the most known of them being “New York Philharmonic”.
Amitabh Bachchan: Stories have it that Mr. Bachchan was aspiring a job as a radio jockey, but turned down for having one “too strong and heavy to be liked”. He ended up being one of the best actors in the Indian Film Industry, a beautiful singer, a narrator for many documentaries and films, example Lagaan, and the booming host of the show “Kaun Banega Crorepati?”
Atul Kapoor: We may not recognize this man at all if he comes on-screen and does the talking. But once behind a mic and he’s the voice of Bigg Boss. The powerful and refined hosting has been conducted by Atul and without a face too, and a huge fan following. Now that’s talent.
Christine Cavanaugh: Cavanaugh is famous for her distinctive speaking style and as a vocal artist for Dexter in Dexter’s Laboratory and Nickelodeon’s Rugrats. She has although retired now but has voiced a wide range of cartoon characters including Recess, Hercules and Powerpuff Girls.
Robin Williams: Winner of many Academy Awards, a stand-up comedian, actor, and a vocal artist, Robin Williams has been the narrator in many films, a voice to many animated characters and a host to many radio shows.
Siddharth Basu: A journalist, quiz show host, producer, director and quiz master. Basu has been a very energetic quiz master for many shows and he’s best known for bringing KBC to India. He has also hosted shows on BBC and Saarc Television.