WHEN the news got around that P Padmarajan was telling the story of a celestial lover in his new film and it was Nitish Bharadwaj who would be playing the role, a dubbing artist in Thiruvananthapuram craved, “I wish I could dub for him!” Luck was in his favour. G R Nandakumar was soon in Chennai, dubbing for Nitish for the movie ‘Njaan Gandharvan’.
Those of you who are religiously watching the mega serial `Ente Manasaputri’ on Asianet will be more familiar with the voice. Nandakumar lends his voice to Rajiv who plays the lead male character, Prakash, in the serial.
A man with a terrific sense of humour (do note that he was a member of Super Mimics, believed to be the first mimics troupe in the state), Nandakumar attributes it to his illustrious parents and siblings. He is the son of the late P Gangadharan Nair who retired as the editor of AIR (remember the famous `Balalokam Ammavan’ named after the programme he anchored on AIR?), and T P Radhamony, staff artist of AIR, better known for anchoring `Mahilalayam’ and the umpteen characters she donned for radio plays. Gangadharan Nair is an actor too. He was part of the cast in `Newspaper Boy’, played the lead in Adoor’s `Mukhamukhom’ and played a role in his `Anantharam’, `Mathilukal’ and `Kathapurushan’.
Chandramohan, Nandakumar’s older brother has dubbed for Shankar in many films.
His wife Ambili is also in the dubbing field.
Kannan, another brother, is with the Doordarshan.
The fact is that Nandakumar never dreamt of entering the dubbing world. “I had to plead with him to accompany me to Merryland Studio for dubbing,” Radhamony chips in.
As years went by, Nandakumar was drawn to it. “Those days dubbing was a time-consuming affair. If there were three dialogues and one went wrong, you had to repeat all the three. I would by-heart the whole thing and say it to myself when mother dubbed. You can say that was the beginning.’’ When Nandakumar became a casual announcer at AIR, Padmarajan happened to be there. “One day he asked me to be at Chitranjali Studio to see if my voice would suit Rahman for his new film - ‘Parannu, Parannu, Parannu’. Everything went off well.” That was his first step into filmdom. He went on to dub for most of the movies of Padmarajan, including his last work `Njaan Gandharvan’.
The wonderful time he had while dubbing for the movie is still fresh in his memories. “It was an experience of a lifetime. The interesting part was that Nitish wrote down the Malayalam dialogues in Hindi, learnt them by-heart and repeated them before the camera without any prompting.” However, Nandakumar still rues about one thing, “Though I dubbed for Nitish throughout the movie, in the introductory scene, you hear Padmarajan chettan’s voice.
I came to know about that only after the movie came out. I wanted to ask Chettan about it, but that was not to be. I could never meet him because he bid adieu to the world soon after the release.’’ Nandakumar, now 48, has completed 25 years in the field. Films (over 250), serials, voice-overs and narration - his voice has been heard everywhere.
“Unfortunately, I have not kept a record of the works I did.’’ The list includes films `Ente Upasana’ (Nahas), `Kariyilakkaattupole’ (Rahman), `Namukku Paarkkan Munthiri Thoppukal’ (Vineeth), `Kshanakathu’, `Dhruvam’ (Vikram), `Made in USA’ (Madhavan) and, the latest one, Blessy’s `Bhramaram’ (for Suresh Menon). He has been Madhavan’s voice in the dubbed version of his Tamil movies.
Now an employee with the State Bank of Travancore with its head office at Poojappura, Nandakumar finds time for dubbing a f t e r o f f i c e hours. “It is interesting to note that people like M G Sreekumar, wildlife photographers Balan and Suresh Elamon, director T K Rajeev Kumar, Satheesh Babu Payyannur- all have SBT background,” he says.
On the small screen, he started off with `Ottu’, a short film by G S Vijayan. As short films graduated to 13-episode serials, the opportunities increased.
Now, thanks to mega serials- especially daily soaps and devotional serials - he is kept busy.
``When you dub, you need to develop an emotional attachment with the character. Another essential aspect is that you should have clarity in pronunciation,” he says. In serials, Nandakumar has been doing positive characters.
“I have not done many negative roles because villains are supposed to have a rough voice which mine is not. Yet, I want to break that notion and do some strong negative characters.’’ Besides a few serials and radio plays, Nandakumar is very excited about an upcoming low-budget film `Edayan’. “I will be the voice of Jesus Christ.’’ Though awards have not come his way, he has been part of some award-winning ventures. Like, when M G Sasi won the best actor award for Shyamaprasad’s `Nilavariyunnu’, Nandakumar had dubbed for him. He has also done the narration for Sasi’s award-winning documentary `Kanavumalayilekku’.
``There were no awards for dubbing or narration then.’’ So, do people recognise him by his voice? ``I was at a friend’s house when his father-in-law passed away. As I was talking with him, his daughter came running, just checked and went inside. Later she asked, ``Are you the one who dubs for Prakash (`Ente Manasaputri’)? That was an interesting moment.’’ But, then, speaking the language of Lord Mahavishnu (in serials like `Devi Mahatmyam’ and `Swamy Ayyappan’) and as an anti-hero for a daily soap at the same time can be quite amusing. ``There have been occasions when the Mahavishnu often peeps out while dubbing for an anti-hero!’’, he breaks into a hearty laugh.
Nandakumar, who dabbles with the paint brush when time allows, is married to Lovelykutty Paul.
Their son Aswin is an engineering student.