Ahead of the release of the films Maamannan (as an actor) and Bagheera (as a voice artist), Raveena speaks to JFW on how it all started, on difficulties involved in dubbing, on choosing Love Today, on giving voice for herself, and a lot more.
On how it all started
Born and brought up in Chennai, Raveena started talking when she was nine months old. Raveena made her voice acting debut at the age of one and a half in K S Adhiyaman’s film Thotta Chinungi. Raveena’s mother, Sreeja Ravi, a five-time state award-winning voice artist with over 1,500 films to her credit, gave voice to the heroine in the film. On elaborating on the same, she says, “This was the first time I sat in front of a mic, I was just blabbering. My first words as a dubbing artist were Thotta Chinungi, which came out all over the radio. When I was four, I started dubbing for advertisements—Arokya milk, Pears soap, Horlicks, Hamam, etc.—across languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali, and Marathi.” Though she was not well versed in different languages, Raveena was able to dub when she was given the script.
Raveena is a third-generation voice over artist; she takes after her grandmother, Kannur Narayani, and mother, Sreeja Ravi. “It’s always been there in the blood, I believe,” she says.
On difficulties involved in dubbing
Raveena says, “Since I’ve been into acting as well, I can very much differentiate the process that goes behind the scenes. Actors get workshops to rehearse, and the script is sent beforehand. They are well informed about the plan, schedules, and gist of the story in advance. Since dubbing can be done within a day or two, they don’t send the script to our home. Dubbing artists are briefed on the spot about the character, the metre of speech, the type of slang and accent, and the emotions expected. Like in any job, we have challenges in dubbing as well.”
Dubbing is a roller-coaster of emotions; it becomes challenging when the voice artists have to dub for non-native actors. Sharing one of her recent experiences, she narrates, “I dubbed for a Malayalam film where the lead actress was a Bengali. She took prompts and delivered the dialogue. It was difficult to blend and match the pauses. I wish people could see the difference a voice artist brings to a film.” When asked acting or dubbing, Raveena chuckles and says, “Both, I do both acting and dubbing with passion, and it doesn’t feel difficult,” she smiles.
On dubbing for Nayanthara
Sreeja Ravi has been giving voices to Nayanthara since her debut, Manassinakkare, and Raveena took over from Bhaskar Oru Rascal. “It was a mere coincidence that I dubbed for Bhaskar Oru Rascal. I was nervous and unprepared, but I wanted to give my best. The director, on the other hand, loved it, and Nayan Mam personally began referring me for her subsequent films and advertisements,” she explains.
On choosing Love Today
Raveena opines that the entire crew and the set were organized. She believes that being there on the set is an experience in itself. “Love Today changed my life. We knew that the film would be a hit, but we didn’t expect it to do wonders at the box office. To be honest, I selfishly signed up for Love Today. I was having a hard time coping with my father’s loss, so choosing Love Today was to keep myself occupied and entertained. Everyone on the set knew this and they kept me genuinely happy, especially, Yogi Babu Sir and Pradeep,” she shares. Raveena says that she and her mother are blessed to do what they are passionate about. “Not everyone gets to do what they love for their bread and butter. We are grateful,” she adds.
On advising upcoming voice artists
“Be patient enough to get the scene right, get your character’s emotions right. Rather than jumping studios and keeping yourself busy, it is more important to do justice to your character,” she says. Raveena opines that at the end of the day, it’s the dialogues that matter, have impact, and walk your audience through the film.
On her favorite works
Madonna’s character Yazhini Bakthirajan, in Kaadhalum Kadanthu Pogum, is one of her favorites. She says, “I was recognized for my work, be it by the technicians, cast, or crew, and the audience loved my tone, style, and delivery. Raveena has a fine balance in the industry; she has been a part of both small scale and big-scale productions and has worked with debutantes as well as senior directors like Shankar, Mani Ratnam, etc.
On giving voice to herself
Talking about the experience, she says, “Whenever I dub for myself in the studio, the most common comment I receive is that you sound like that heroine. There is this difficulty matching my voice with myself. I give my best while in location and make sure I deliver my dialogues at the right pace.” “I want to grab good opportunities that come my way; I want to keep working,” shares Raveena.
On her upcoming projects
Raveena will be seen in Vattara Vazhaku, Maamanan, and Criminal. She is also working on an untitled Malayalam film starring Sreenath Bhasi. On the dubbing front, she is lending her voice to Hansika Motwani for the web series MY3. She has four films in Malayalam: Vaalatty, Kallanum Bhagavathiyum, Vella, and the much-awaited Shakunthalam.