It maybe an irony that the shortest dubbing she did for a character in 5000 odd films had to bear this long wait. It was in 1993 that she dubbed for Sobhana, for the character Ganga,
“I received a call from director Fazil sir,” said Durga. “Though I used to dub for his films in Tamil, I said no when he informed me that this was for a Malayalam film. Then he said, ‘You must come. It is a Tamil dialogue’. So I reached Joy studio in Chennai and the recording was over in less than two hours.”
Though the film and the scene which revealed the multiple personality disorder of the lead character turned to be a big hit, no one cared for Durga, as her name was not in the credits. But she did not yell out for it, till this date. But the industry knew this. Hence she was invited by director P Vasu to give voice to the Tamil portion in the Chandramukhi, the Telugu dubbed version of the remake of Manichitrathazhu .
“Of course, I felt sad as I did not get the credit,” she commented on the credit that was with another arstist.“But I took this as normal. However, Sreeja (dubbing artist) used to remind me of the loss. I felt very happy when the director himself acknowledged it although after a long time.”
Durga, who was born and bought up in Chennai, started dubbing in Telugu movies at the age of nine. She entered the Tamil industry with ‘Thooral Ninru poch’ by K Bhagyaraj in 1982. She was the voice of all the female leads in the films by Fazil in Tamil from Nadia Moidu in ‘Poove Poochoodava’ to Kanaka in ‘Kilippech Kelkkavaa’. Her first outing in Molly wood was in ‘Chidambaram’ (1985), when she gave the voice to the legendary actress Smitha Patil.
On a philosophical note she said, the revelation came at the right time as it would not have aroused so much curiosity if it was known then. “True, I feel very happy now. I don’t think it would have created a news, then,” she said, while preparing for the Pongal festival with her family, which includes husband R Sundarajan (actor-director-writer) and daughters.
Manichitrathaazhu won two National Film Awards, one for the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment, while Shobhana was adjudged as the Best Actress. It was remade after nearly a decade in various languages, such as Kannada (Apthamitra (2004), Tamil and Telugu (dubbed), Chandramukhi (2005), Bengali - Rajmohol (2005), and Hindi - Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007). All of them became commercially successful.
The scene, which was noted for the scintillating performance by Sobhana, had dialogues in both Malayalam and Tamil, as Ganga is transformed into Nagavally. The Tamil portion, lasting less than two minutes, starting with Vidamatten, went on to become one of the biggest hits, in terms of dialogue as well as the film.
Bhagyalaxmi, the award-winning dubbing artist, had dubbed for Ganga in both languages. However, as Director Fazil revealed a week ago, the Tamil portion was done additionally by Durga as the delivery needed an authentic Tamil flavour. There was no credit given to Durga as this was done in the final minutes, wrote the director in a weekly.“Unmai neruppu maathiri. Athey maraykkave mudiyathe. Unmaikku power jaasthi. Athu veliyile vanthidum.” (‘Truth is like a raging fire. It cannot be hidden forever. Truth is powerful. It has to come out once’). This is the reply given by veteran dubbing artist Durga, on how she felt, when given the credit for this electrifying dialogue in ‘Manichitrathaazhu’, after a gap of 23 years.