Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sandalwood, here I come (ish)

Ah yes hello, I am back. And for those who don't remember me anymore, allow me me re-introduce myself. "Hello, jeste my name is Bikerdude, malayalam vooice-oaver artistte."

Whaa? Yes. This is the new me, and this what I did on my first day of official unemployment.

Whaa? Yes. I bade adieu to my software engineer avatar a couple of weeks ago to see if I could pursue my true interests in the arts. Well atleast that's what I wrote in my resignation letter. Bwahaha. I'm not sure how much pursuing I'm going to be doing, but this was definitely an interesting start:

A few months ago, I got in touch with Suchitra Lata, an immensely talented musician/composer and virtuoso veena player, who very sweetly invited me to check out her studio in Jaynagar. They do some amazing indie jazz-fusion music, aside from mainstream stuff like jingles, voice overs and radio clips. Suchitra's brilliant Album Mobius Strip (2006) has a dreamy loungey sort of feel to it, with very crisply executed veena leads all through. A wonderfully refreshing change from the usual ersatz tracks that you hear in our page 3 lounge bars across town.

So off I went to the studio last week. After I'd gawped at the all studio equipment and was sufficiently bowled over by Suchitra's fusion tracks, she asked me if I'd like do a voice over for a photo printer ad. "Um, sure", I said, and was led into the recording room and asked to sit in front of an extremely cool looking mike. She handed me a 4 page manuscript with a series of jalebis drawn onto it. I was to do the voice-over in Goad's oawn Language.

Whaa? Yes.

"Err.. no English?" I asked nervously. "Err, no English", she said, "Unless you want to do the voice over in Tamil or Gujarati. I stared at the jalebis intently, hoping I'd suddenly be able to read the script as fluently as I could as a kid. No hope there. I finally gave up and begged to be excused for a day so I could go home home, weep for an hour and then attempt to make sense out of it.

After several hours of laborious Malayalam-to-English transliteration (and standing out in the rain to get the perfect nasal twang), I went back to the studio to do the voice-over. Gokul, the brilliant sound engineer, smiled encouragingly at me through the glass window of the recording room and cued me to begin.

"Namaskaram, ende peru Bikerdude. Njaan oru photographer aanu..." (Hello I am Bikerdude and I am a photographer....) I began, looking steadfastly away from Suchitra who had collapsed on the studio floor in uncontrollable giggles the moment I began speaking in my rah-rah malayalam accent. Gokul played my voice back over the headphones. I looked around for a sharp intrument to end everybody's agony right there. Apparently they were used to reactions like mine, and had padded the studio walls as a precautionary measure. After several re-takes and some cool cut-paste jobs by Gokul, the voice-over was ready. It was maginally less hijrotic than when I first started, but still sounded like Hermann Gundert on coconut schnapps.

"I sing and play the guitar a bit too, you know.." I told Suchitra hesitantly, after we'd done the voice over. "Oh?" she said. "Let's do a scratch recording then." It was for a kannada film track. The lyrics hadn't come in yet, she said. But not to worry, I could sing it anyway using the phrases 'love me', 'touch me', 'kiss me', and 'oooh bayyyybehh' in random order.

I sang. Gokul recorded, and played back the track over the headphones. It sounded like a cross between a foghorn and Rajamma miss. They made me sing the same track in a higher key. It sounded like a cross between the HMT factory siren and Rajamma miss.

"Uh-huh, cool, so lets see how that works out", Suchitra said diplomatically, after I was done. "And next time, try not to wobble so much while you sing, yeah?" I simpered, melted into a puddle and trickled down the studio stairs into my car .

So if you hear of mass-malayalee-suicides resulting from a printer infomercial, you'll know who was responsible. And as for me being the next kannada singing sensation, don't hold your breath. I'm not quite sure "Love, touch, kiss or hold me in no particular order baby" will make it to the top ten countdown any time soon.

Thanks tons Suchitra and Gokul for being so patient and long-suffering. You really are awesome people!!

Sandalwood = The kannada film industry ala Bollywood, Kollywood, Tollywood etc.