Movies

Shweta Tripathi Sharma on voicing Barbara Gordon in Spotify’s ‘Batman: Ek Chakravyuh’

Shweta Tripathi Sharma | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Shweta Tripathi Sharma experienced a moment of gratitude at a high profile event in Mumbai recently, attended by many writers, directors, actors, and producers. She spotted several now-renowned names whom she has worked with in Masaan, Made In Heaven, Mirzapur among other projects. “They have all been very supportive. They have never made me feel small. At that event, it felt like we all had grown together… That felt nice,” she says.

For someone who began her career over a decade ago, her filmography is not prolific. But that is because she does not take up whatever comes her way. Being choosy, however, has its own problems. She sometimes had to wait for ages to get scripts that interested her. “Nawaz bhai (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), during the shooting of Haraamkhor, told me actors who are choosy should be patient.” This had a profound impact on her career and helped her during those long periods of waiting.

Recently, however, Shweta has been busy. Six films and five series in less than four years. That’s a little too busy perhaps? “Being busy, in my case, is a good problem to have,” she laughs.

Shweta’s recent increase in projects, however, is not random. It has a plausible explanation: the dramatic surge of OTT in India. Most of the films and series she did during this period were released in these platforms. So much so that she gets labelled as an ‘OTT actor’. Does that bother her?

“I don’t have a problem with the OTT label. But I have a problem with labeling itself. It is just lazy.  I think an actor is an actor. Like age or gender, the medium does not matter too. I just want to be wherever good stories are.”

Her latest work showcases this medium-agnostic approach. She has voiced Barbara Gordon in Spotify’s audio series Batman: Ek Chakravyuh, directed by Mantra Mugdh. She has lent her voice for a Hindi animated film, Bird Idol, in 2010 and a few ads. But this is the first time she has worked in an audio-only medium.

“Before Spotify, radio plays were quite big. And, I always wanted to do them. So, doing Batman is a realisation of that wish.”

Different challenges

Shweta’s reason for taking up the project is straightforward. “Come on, who would say no to Batman?”

For the first time, she was playing a character that was fictional but also familiar. “No one knew about Golu before Mirzapur released. But all the fans know about Barabara. So, it’s like playing someone who actually exists or existed. That was exciting.”

Secondly, she had to voice a character from Gotham in Hindi. “Barbara had to sound authentic despite speaking Hindi. It shouldn’t be like a badly-dubbed version of an English film.”

Voice-acting, in itself, was a tough test. “You are pretty much on your own here. There is no help from other departments like hair and makeup, costume, editing, and lighting to accentuate your performance. Of course, the sound team is there to back you. But you need to make sure you give the listeners an immersive experience. That’s tough in today’s social media age where our attention spans are limited to a few seconds.”

But Shweta is an actor who believes in the power of voice. She reckons it as an important tool for an actor. “I have never liked when someone voices for me. Even when I did a Tamil film ( Mehandi Circus), I dubbed my lines. It was so difficult because I don’t understand the language. But I wanted to do it because each person’s voice has a unique texture, tone, volume.”

Getting into character

To get into her characters, Shweta usually gets the details of their looks. “In my upcoming series, Escaype Live, I play a girl named Naina from Banaras. Golu in Mirzapur is also from Banaras. So is Shalu from Masaan. But I make sure Naina is different from the other two. Each character has something specific about their looks.”

She also discusses with her director the characters’ body language — details like how they walk and what they do while resting. In Batman: Ek Chakravyuh, however, the questions were more focused on Barbara’s speech. “I asked Mantra how she talks, the pace of her speech, her tone, her breathing patterns... Once I got that, it became easy to slip into Barbara’s shoes.”

Another method Shweta follows is listening soundtracks that evoke the emotions of her character. Hans Zimmer’s intense, heavy-duty Batman tracks helped her get into Barbara’s headspace.

“I first voiced her sitting. But that somehow didn’t feel right. So, I did it standing,” she adds.

She does whatever little thing she could to sink deeper into her characters. But this also has a flipside. It is an emotionally exhaustive process.

With a slew of projects complete, she intends to vacation in New York, “visiting museums, watching musicals, stand up, going to libraries, meeting people.” Not because these experiences will help with her future characters. “I just want to do it for Shweta.”


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Printable version | May 11, 2022 6:46:47 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/shweta-tripathi-spotify-batman/article65383956.ece