Think of ‘Manjil Virinja Pookkal’ and a series of landmarks will rise up in your mind: Mohanlal’s entry, Fazil’s debut, the Shankar-Poornima pairing, and Jerry Amaldev’s romantic melodies.
Yet another breakthrough happened, less talked-about but equally impressive. A new voice for Malayalam heroines. Anandavally gave voice to Prabha, the character played by Poornima Jayaram.
Her brilliant rendition in the movie catapulted her to the throne of the queen of Malayalam dubbing industry, with a flurry of offers coming her way. She reigned as the most sought-after dubbing artist during the 80s and 90s, the period they call the golden period of Malayalam cinema.
‘‘The film was a turning point in my career. In fact, it was a recognition that my voice was apt for heroines. Soon, producers and directors started recommending my voice for heroines,’’ says Anandavally, the veteran dubbing artist.
Thereafter, Anandavally have not looked back. As of now, she has dubbed for more than 3,000 films and is still active. She was the exclusive choice of several leading heroines.
Geetha, for instance. Anandavally dubbed for Geetha in all the 123 films she acted in Malayalam. Their combination won her a State Award for the film ‘Aadharam’. Silk Smitha was the other actor with whom Anandavally struck a fruitful partnership.
Besides, she gave her voice to almost all the roles played by Sumalatha, Ambika, Parvathy and Gouthami in Malayalam.
The list is never ending - Suhasini, Sobhana, Sukanya, Sarada, Saritha, Suchitra, Menaka, Bangalore Bharathi, Bhanupriya, Rekha, Revathi, Renjini, Mohini, Nanditha Bose, Vinayaprasad, Urvashi, Karthika, Kanaka, Khushboo, Madhavi, Urmila Unni, Unni Mary, Santhikrishna and so on.
The variety is mind boggling. If she made Silk Smitha sound tantalisingly sensuous, it was warmth and love that she aroused through the grandmother (played by Sarada) in Lohitadas’s ‘Kanmadham’.
The most amazing aspect, perhaps, is none of the heroines for whom she had given voice sounds the same. ‘‘That’s because I have not given my original voice to anyone. I make variations in my sound depending upon actresses,’’ Anandavally says.
In 1978, two years before ‘Manjil Virinja Pookkal’ happened, Anandavally had shifted to Chennai, the cradle of Malayalam cinema in those days. ‘‘During those days, from 1985 to 1998 to be precise, it was very challenging as I used to dub for seven to eight films in a day. For me, the day used to begin at AVM studio, then revolved around Prasad Studio, Suresh Mahal, Venus Studio, Vasu Studio and Kalpaka Studio. In the film ‘Sthalathe Pradhana Payyans’, I had dubbed for five characters,’’ she sighs, as though looking back the feat seemed impossible to her.
‘‘Truly, unthinkable. Now, most of you will hardly believe this,’’ adds the 56 year-old artist, whose career in Malayalam films began as an actress.
Born into an agricultural family at Veliyam, Anandavally used to sing for dramas even while a teenager. But, unexpectedly, her acting skills were put to test in front of a large audience during an exceptionally hot night in 1969. ‘‘I went to sing for the drama ‘Chithalu Kayariya Bhoomi’. Just minutes before the drama commenced, the director came and said that the main actress didn’t turn up. Anandavally should act. I was shocked. I was very lean and did not have the looks of a heroine as well. Besides, renowned dramatist O Madhavan was seated in the front row. Any way, I managed to perform. After the show, O Madhavan came to me and appreciated the effort. That gave me the confidence and soon I started performing in several dramas of KPAC and Kalidasa Kalakendram,’’ she says.
Later, Anandavally entered the film industry through the film ‘Kadu’ and went on to act in around 40 films. She also worked as an announcer with the All India Radio. ‘‘In 1973, I debuted as a dubbing artist. I gave my sound for actress Rajasri in the film ‘Devi Kanyakumari’,’’ she said.
And what was the most difficult role she dubbed for? The answer came promptly - dubbing for the climax of the film ‘Akashadoothu’. ‘‘It took a lot of time. Most of the time, I became so emotional that I could not say the dialogue. Similar instances occurred during the dubbing of the ‘Aadharam’ as well,’’ she says.
Anandavally is still active through films and serials. She has dubbed for Sudha Chandran in the film ‘Alexander The Great’, Chitra Shenoy in ‘Rajamanikyam’ and for Ambika in ‘Thanthonni’. ‘‘I wish I continue this for a long time, ‘’she says.
Now, Anandavally who lives with her son Diphan and family at Thampuran Nagar near Nemom in the city, has a dream. ‘‘I want to pen an autobiography. Earlier, I used to write down my experiences. Now, I have to sort those collections and make it in the form of a book,’’ says Anandavally, who owes all her success to the Almighty.
Diphan, who is now a director to be reckoned with after the huge success of ‘Puthiya Mukham’, could at some point of time may translate his mother’s dreams onto the celluloid.