Sonal started her bucket list journey as an eight-year-old child artiste for All India Radio. Her mother who was an announcer for All India Radio is the one person who inspired her to do something similar with her voice. One thing led to another, and Sonal, a self-taught voice over artist is now the voice behind the most popular anime characters in India.
“I had never planned on becoming a dubbing-artist. It came accidentally.”
In 2005, UTV Delhi had set up an audition for the voice over for a popular Japanese anime, ‘Doraemon.’ Sonal who was just twelve, auditioned and got through and has been a voice over artist for Doraemon ever since. She hasn’t looked back since. The bucket lister has been in Mumbai for four years now and has acted in a number of short films, and even hosted a lot of shows for Doordarshan at the age of twelve.
Sonal’s true inspiration came from her mother who she had seen behind the mic for so many years.
The bucket lister believes in the power of observation to garner inspiration. Earlier it was the other artists from AIR and the dramas and plays that inspired her. Now it’s observing voice over artists big or small, either on the television or at the dubbing studio that hones her skills.
Difficulties are a part of life and Sonal has had her fair share of it. The bucket lister had shifted from Delhi to Mumbai, a whole new city. She had left the comfort zone of her own city. But that was something that seemed manageable and she dealt with it.
However, she narrates of an incident in 2015 when she had a sore throat. She was dubbing for animations which were stressful for her vocal chords. The feeling was unnatural as it had troubled her for the entire day and so she chose to rest. Sonal was coughing profusely at a stretch and the symptoms carried on for ten days. On visiting an ENT, she found out that her vocal chords had swollen up. The doctor had then suggested her not to speak, or even whisper.
Although Sonal iterated that her profession was totally dependant on her voice, the doctor warned that she could very much lose her voice because of it. She changed her doctor, who suggested her for a surgical procedure to find out the cause and extent of her condition.
“Luckily for me, there were no surgeries. Unfortunately, I was given medicines which although reduced the swelling, now I’m allergic to smoke, dust and have very sensitive vocal chords.”
Sonal currently works as a freelancer. This lets her work for various projects under different companies and vendors, all in a single day. She has also been singing jingles and songs for Cartoon Network and Disney Channel.
The bucket lister wants to change the predominant mindset that people have over dubbing as an easy profession. She describes the process as something that requires using the brain, eyes, ears, and throat all at once. She is unimpressed with the fact how voice over artists never get the deserved recognition and credits.
The animes that Sonal lends her voices to, for the audience in India are mostly in some foreign language. She is allowed to watch an episode that she has to dub and is given a script in her language.
Once, she understands the characters, it’s voice frequency, the modulations, the expressions and the timings she puts on the headphones and the mic is on.
Once again the same episode is repeated in the same foreign language and she dubs to them in her own language, accordingly.
Talking about her Doraemon stint that she has been in for the last 12 years, the bucket lister accepts that she had no prior knowledge about dubbing. But Sonal took it to pretty quick owing to her experience of working at AIR. The knowledge about the mic, it’s usage, the voicing everything helped her adjust it pretty quickly. The directors were patient with her and this helped her learn and ace the character.
In India, the profession of a voice over artist is not a well-paid one. But Sonal accepts that she is one of the lucky few to be doing what she loves.
“I really enjoy what I do, specially animation because it connects me to million little souls and it gives me immense amount of happiness when i see those little faces smiling and enjoying the cartoons that I dub for, or when I talk to them in those character voices!”
This is what makes Sonal miss her job even after hours and hours of work. She appreciates the bucket list that she has achieved. In 2016, she was awarded for being the Most Popular Animation Voice by Arena Animation and Sugar Mediaz.
For aspiring bucket listers, Sonal has something to say to you,
“If you’re not doing what you love, you’re not doing justice to yourself. I know many a people who just left their jobs to do something they love. I would advise that if you can’t leave your job, you need to love it.”
Sonal wasn’t sure of her bucket list and it just walked right at her door step. She acknowledged it and now lives a life of immense satisfaction that goes well beyond the lines of money and fame.
If you have a bucket list idea in mind that you’ve been longing to accomplish, tell us about it. Who knows, maybe your bucket list idea is exactly what you have been looking for in life.