Voicing emotions

THE COMMON factor in the two films `Avvai Shanmugi' and `Nayagan' is an easy guess — the presence of the versatile actor Kamal Hasan. But what is little known is the presence of another person. She is Uma Bharani, erstwhile actress and now a busy dubbing artiste. Her voice has brought out the emotional highs and lows on screen. Actress Meena in `Avvai Shanmugi' and Saranya in `Nayagan' would not have shored up their performances without Uma's voice resounding through the reels.

For this backroom talent, acting has been in blood. Her mother, T.R.Latha, was a famous stage artiste having donned the heroine's role to perfection in many of the veteran stage performer R.S.Manohar's dramas. So right from childhood, Uma had a natural initiation into the performing arts. "I used to watch performances from a very early age and also get useful tips from doyens like Manohar," she recalls with much pride.

As luck would have it, her mother's best friend Jeyadevi got interested in Uma while on a routine visit to their home. She apparently developed an instant liking for this cute teenager playing around and immediately signed her up for the movie `Vaa Indha Pakkam'.

"It was a pleasant surprise which I never expected to come my way so suddenly. From my childhood I wanted to be an actress and was waiting for the right time and opportunity after finishing my SSLC exams,'' she says modestly. Another stage personality, Mouli, who had graduated to movies, directed her maiden film. "The entire unit protected and treated me like a kid. Prathap Pothen was paired opposite me. I was extremely fortunate,'' she can't stop thanking her stars even now.

Her first film did not do well at the box office. But more acting offers came her way. Though initially reluctant, she signed up a film for the role of a sister and quite dramatically the wheel of fortune turned in her favour. A string of successes including the Rajni Kanth film `Naan Mahan Alla' and K.Bhagyaraj's `Thavani Kanavugal' followed next. In between to satiate her appetite for good character roles, she signed for an art film `Utchi Veil' and it won the national award for best Tamil movie that year.

During this time, Uma also started receiving good offers from the Malayalam film industry and became a big hit there. She paired with popular actor, Nedumudi Venu, and her movie `Veenapoo' was screened at the Panorama film festival fetching her the "Best New Face" Award from the Kerala Government.

That was also the time when television serials were gaining momentum and Uma began receiving offers. She made a beginning on the small screen by accepting the Tamil serial "Flight No.172" directed by Mouli, who had launched her in films. The serial was an instant hit and it made her a household name. From then on Uma wasted no time, grabbing opportunities that came knocking at her doors. Her successive serials `Ladies Hostel' and `Solladi Sivasakthi' hit the top of the charts for weeks together.

An opportunity from Sivaji Productions to dub for new face Pallavi for the movie `Aruvadai Nal' charted her on a new path. "It was a tough decision for me as it meant a big change — from facing a camera to go backstage. But I accepted and it opened new vistas for me," she brims.

Uma has only climbed up and up, her voice dominating all dubbing theatres. Her voice is considered to be best suited for Meena. "I lent my voice for Khushbu and Simran also. Dubbing is not easy. A dubbing artiste's effort and calibre are as vital as the actress or actor facing the camera," she asserts.

In a chequered career, Uma's sole grudge is only about the State Government turning a blind eye towards dubbing artistes. In Andhra Pradesh, even the dubbing artists are hounoured with the Nandi Awards every year. "While announcing the various cine awards annually, the Tamil Nadu Government should also remember the dubbing artists and acknowledge their services", she takes leave on that hopeful note.


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