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Dubbed a success

Dancer. Dubbing artiste. TV hostess. Harini Chandramouli can't resist challenges

Harini Chandamouli: `Dubbing artistes are not given their due.' -- Photo: Murali Kumar K.

HOW OFTEN have you wondered about those stars who look as beautiful as they talk? They way they wrench emotions from a filmi situation with stirring dialogue. Hold your horses: not everyone is an Amitabh or a Shabana. Like most of us, screen deities also need a bit of help.

Here's where dubbing artistes come in. If you've seen Tamil actors such as Jyothika or Rambha speak such good Kannada on screen, it's thanks to the talents of people like Harini Chandramouli, a voice-over artist.

If you switch on Doordarshan for a classical music programme, she may be hosting a show there too. Some of you may have even seen her face on ETV (Kannada) and Udaya TV hosting cookery shows, dial-a-song programmes et al, and at some events in the city like the World Dance Day celebrations.


For 26-year-old Harini, dance is a passion. So why did she do all that hosting, voice-over, acting in serials? "I wanted to try everything at least once," she says with a grin. "Actually these opportunities came my way accidentally. A friend of mine, who was to host a particular show, could not make it. So she recommended my name." She never had to look back after the first audition.

Harini then went on to do several other shows. She dubbed for Chakra Gold Tea and Kwality Ice-Cream commercials and dubbed for Kadambari— the late G.V. Iyer's much talked-about swansong. She even starred in a lead role in the television serial Aathma.

Nevertheless, Harini says "acting is not my cup of tea." She snapped up the opportunities that came her way only in the hope she could improve her dancing on the side.

She fell in love with dance as a child, beginning at six. She has learnt both the Vazhuvoor (dance steps are crisp and intricate, grace is predominant in this style), Kalakshetra (energetic and robust body movements/expression) styles, and from Sandhya and Kiran Subramaniam.

Having won the first prize in 1997-98 at the national level competition of the Indian Fine Arts Society, she gave a public performance in Chennai — a perk associated with the prize.

She has also assisted her gurus in productions such as Yatra and Rangoli.

The entrepreneurial Harini, along with her friends has started a contemporary dance company, Nritha Nrutya, where "we take ideas from traditional dancing and create our own positive language through dance." All members of the group have strong grounding in Bharatanatyam.

Does contemporary dance have a good fan following? "Of course. We have witnessed a good crowd at our programmes. Both the young and old attend these shows. Bangalore is a very happening city and people are receptive to experimentation." Taking part in her gurus' dance show Arambh was unique in that it was very different in terms of choreography and lighting. "The concept of alarippu was taken and the format given a different shape. The show began with a varnam in raga Purvikalyani and the concept of ashtanayikas was enacted in dance form. It was very well received."

Harini has taken part in Padmini Ravi's ballets, dances woven round a particular theme. She performed at last year's Lakme India Fashion Week, opening it with a programme called Stree Shakti.

Her group recently staged Prayog, a programme on the theme of the five elements — fire, water, wind, air and earth — choreographed under five different rasas. The depiction of the rasas was in Bharatnatya style and that of the elements, in contemporary style.

Her father Chandramouli is a popular mridangam player and her brother Manjunath is also an up-and-coming percussionist. She says she draws inspiration from both.

"My parents and brother have always encouraged me in whatever I did. My greatest inspiration is, however, my brother. I feel I have imbibed a lot from him, especially in terms of ideals. I have also emulated him in being focused on whatever I do."

Industry crisis

On the recent crisis in the Kannada film industry, she says it has affected dubbing artistes.

"Dubbing opportunities are considerably less now with the embargo. Also there's the likelihood of fewer films being produced. Moreover, dubbing artistes are not being given due credit for their job," she says.

The recently married Harini has given dance performances in Chennai, Bombay, Delhi, Kerala and in Dubai. Her troupe performed at the Artmantram too.


Daily Bread is a weekly column that features people who've chosen offbeat professions. Our guest list has included the likes of scuba divers, potters, perfume makers and suave farmers.

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