LIFE – AN ART OF VOICE ACTING

Try reading these lines with a smile, then with a frown, then with surprise and then with disgust:

“I know … You can do it”

That’s the limitation of the written word. If there is no voice to a line, it means something other than what it should or what it was meant to be by the author. Voice acting is an art of giving life to a body of words and each person can treat it different. The modulation, the stress, the breath, each one gives the words a new meaning. Around the world, there are many voice artists or voice actors who have been giving life to characters or the written word.

Imagine a movie where Morgan Freeman or Amitabh Bachchan renders a narration. The narration would remain iconic forever, as they are the people chosen to give even voice to the unseen God in certain films. Have you seen the movie “Book Thief”, Based on a book of the same name by Markus Zusak, directed by Brian Percival. The movie is taken forward by the award winning actor Roger Allam, the narrator who has given his voice to “Death”. Even death starts alluring you, for the beauty of his voice. But, what about the others who have been unsung and remain so even now. Many actresses win awards based on the screen rendition done by voice artists. Hence the endeavor to elucidate the importance of life, as an art of voice acting or better to put it as the ineffaceable link between life and voice.

Every day we have been using our voice to convey our deep feelings,  whether it is love, hate, anger, dismay, stress or even happiness and excitement. But we have never tried to use it as a profession or seen its potential in a profession. Voice acting is such a talent which is hidden in every individual from the time he starts speaking. It is an inherent quality of a human. Even those who cannot speak have a voice – the inner voice, which speaks to us in different ways, like a voice actor.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’
then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
– Vincent Van Gogh (The famous artist)

So there is enough and more importance to voice acting in life. It is a means to effective communication. The basic talent is the voice; the rest can be trained to suit the needs. The texture of the voice, the modulation, the stress, quality of rendition and pronunciation, all are factors which have to be taken into consideration but can be trained if you have the passion to pursue your voice. The field is vast and encompasses Voice for Radio commercials, TV commercials, Movie Dubs, Tele sales, Emceeing, Presentations, Singing at times, Cartoon voicing, and even telling a story to your child. But in every profession, you need a voice to suit your stature. Even if it is over the telephone or radio, we try to give a face to the voice, haven’t you? Think about the last time you ordered a pizza, if the voice was not pleasant enough, the chances are that you won’t call that restaurant anymore; which goes to say that Voice acting is not just a profession, but life itself.

Think about a corporate head with a meek voice. Would he gather the attention he really ought to have? The respect we give a person is also judged by his or her voice. Would you prefer to work with a team leader with a great voice or a ludicrous voice? The answer is obvious. But the fact remains that every voice can be trained to be better.

My ex-boss, Mr. Dinesh Bhaskar, corrected me once while I was on the phone. He said to me the lesson that changed my life: “You don’t smile when you receive calls… but do you know that is you smile the person on the other end of the line actually sees you smiling, and otherwise if you are not”. So even adding a smile to a voice can change the outlook of the person hearing it. Other than the smile, there are other factors which can mould voices. Basic warming up, with relaxation techniques and the choice of tone, will all change the person’s image in the mind of the receiver.

Hardly do many know that with more amount of air while voice acting would generate the positive emotions and lesser the negative. A calm soothing voice can prevent aggression in an office and a powerful voice, which can be from the same person, can bring about the change required. The control of breath in Yoga is called not Swashayama (Control of breath) but Pranayama (Control of life). So the bare essentials of being a voice artist, a corporate employer or employee, remain to be having a voice and the ability to control breath and emotions.

Being a voice actor myself, many a time, I have faced difficulty in understanding what needs to be conveyed. So I would reiterate the fact that it is not an easy task. But with practice, the art can be mastered to give it what is required, just as living life is all about. So I can boldly say I train people to live, but in fact, I train people in voice acting. In the corporate world, if you delete the word acting, the rest says it all. Be the voice of the future corporate world, by living your life to the fullest and training your voice.

Kris Iyer