She holds five Limca records, one in the India Book of Records, and she recently won a medal from the President for her achievements as a woman; she is known to be the first female ventriloquist in India. Yet for Indushree Raveendra, who has been practising ventriloquism since she was six, there is still a long way to go. She has already performed over 3,500 shows around the world.
“Every time I think I am done, I realise that something different can be created from nothing. I feel everything has life, has a thought process, and can talk. I have even experimented with making inanimate objects talk,” says Indushree, who has also worked with a a dog on a reality show (she was the runner-up on
Her journey however has been long and fairly arduous, since her first tryst with the art form at a magic convention, where she bought a ₹200 monkey puppet that she says “changed her life.”
“I didn’t know what ventriloquism was, or how it worked. No one from my family were magicians or ventriloquists and 23 years ago, you didn’t have the internet, books weren’t easily accessible, and there were no coaching schools. It was hard to learn by myself,” recalls Indushree, who also holds BFA and DAE degrees.
“I stood before the mirror with my monkey puppet and tried different ways to throw my voice. Meanwhile I also got hold of an audio tutorial. I had to learn a visual medium, through audio. That was hard.”
It was also challenging to be told she couldn’t do it because she was a woman. “When I went to a ventriloquist and asked if I could perform, he said he didn’t think women could do this because they wouldn’t be able to sustain the process of switching voices for long durations. I feel that it is challenging but it’s not impossible.”
Beginning with one puppet, Indushree has worked her way up to four (on India’s Got Talent , where she was a semi-finalist), at the same time. “If there are four dummies, that means there are five characters. I would handle two puppets on either hand and two on either leg. That means each leg would handle two operations, with two levers, and each hand would handle five or six manipulations — for the eyebrows, eyeballs, lip movement, or head movement, involving over five levers. I would also have to work on five different voices, with their actions, and reactions, apart from remembering the script,” she explains. “And that’s not all, one must also ensure the other puppets, and myself, react in some way, while one puppet is talking.”
She feels there is huge potential in India for the art form to grow in the coming years.
“Many don’t understand the kind of hard work that goes into ventriloquism. Having said that, I see that stand-up comedy is taking on a different scale and people are looking forward to something new, and the interest in ventriloquism is growing."
Indushree will perform as part of the Winter Carnival at Elements Mall on November 17 from 6 pm. Call 67294444 for details. Entry is free.