Art and Culture
"Reason Behind The Cuteness Of Doraemon, Chhota Bheem And Powerpuff Girls!" Voice In Every Family | Sonal Kaushal
Who hasn’t heard about 22nd century cat robot called Doraemon , a popular Japanese animated series for children that has become a huge hit in India as well? The character is now part of almost every family. Sonal Kaushal is the voice behind the character so loved! Twenty-five-year-old, Sonal has been voicing Doraemon since 2005, when she was just 12. Since Sonal’s mother was a casual announcer for All India Radio in New Delhi, she came to know that UTV was conducting auditions for a Japanese show that would be dubbed in Hindi and the instruction given was that you had to sound like a robot. Today Doraemon is the highest-rated kids’ show with 478.5 million viewers and currently airs on Hungama and Disney channels. The art of dubbing for an animated series is not easy at all, especially for a child. Sonal Kaushal has lended her voice to many other popular characters like Chhota Bheem, Mighty Raju (English), Powerpuff Girls, Ceylan in ‘A Love Story’ on Zindagi channel, Darby in ‘My friends Tigger and Pooh’ and many others.
In conversation with Sonal Kaushal:
Q. How did it all start? How did you end up auditioning for dubbing Doraemon’s voice?
My mother has been working as a Casual announcer in the All India Radio and she is the one who motivated me to audition at AIR, which at the age of 6, was my very first project, subsequently I ended up acting in several other Radio dramas and hosting a weekly interview segment of the TV show, Kidz Island on the Doordarshan channel. In 2005, I came to know about the ongoing auditions for an upcoming Japanese cartoon series, at the time, it wasn’t disclosed which series it would be, but I went through the process and after several rounds of auditioning, I was selected to play the lead, Doraemon and have been playing it for the 12 odd years since.
Q. When did you discover your skills of dubbing? How did you grow so fond of it?
I did perform and won various singing/recital competitions during my schooling, and but it was only when started acting in the AIR plays, I discovered my unique voice acting skills. Afterwards, when I was selected to be the voice for Doraemon, I started liking it more and more. 2005 onwards, I’ve had so many opportunities to express myself and explore my talent in this energetic field that be it the sweet voice of Bubbles in the PowerPuff Girls, the iconic voice of Chhota Bheem or any of the 200+ distinct characters I’ve performed till date, my love and fondness for this art has only matured with time.
Q. Do you have any role model in the field, someone you look upto?
It may sound as a Cliché but my mother is the real source of my inspiration especially because she is the one who introduced me to this art and showed me the way to be a humble achiever. Both my parents and my brother have been blessed with wonderful voices of their own. I love how my brother and father can sing so beautifully, I can listen to them cracking duets for hours. I believe that I still have a long way to go, a lot to learn and I’m glad that I do not have one but so many dubbing directors and the senior artists that I look up to and get to learn from. I am indebted to them for they have helped me grow and been supportive and compassionate towards me, that I feel like the pampered child of this ever loving family.
Q. Who has been your greatest strength in your journey so far?
My family has undoubtedly been my greatest strength. It is only because of the efforts, the support and the push from my mother and brother that I could take one of the harder decisions that I ever had to take and move to Mumbai. If it was not for my father and his belief in me, I would have not been this strong willed and independent woman that I am today; I do wish every girl could get a father like him.
Q. Please tell us about your educational background. Which school and college did you go to?
I went to Ryan International School, Rohini, New Delhi and completed my high school from there. I got admitted to Sri Guru Gobind Singh College of Commerce, Delhi University and completed Graduation in Commerce, holding the second rank in my college. I still remember the phase when I was confused about my career, trying to figure out the next step, but again my father came to the rescue and guided me to take up something I’ve loved all along and for that reason I took up teaching and ended up doing my B.Ed from Amity University. While I also cleared CTET in the first attempt but I could not take up teaching full time as I decided to move to Mumbai. However, the learning didn’t stop even with my full time career in the dubbing industry; I decided to go for a post-graduation and ended up completing my MBA from Symbiosis College of Distance Learning last year.
Q. What all problems did you face in your journey so far? How did you tackle them?
Like every individual, I’ve faced some challenges more than the others, but certainly one of the more troublesome stretch was in 2015 when I had taken up a demanding character on Cartoon Network’s Johnny Test, where I had to do a lot of screaming, that, plus my gruelling schedule hurt and swelled my vocal chords. My doctor advised me an absolute rest of 10 days which meant that I couldn’t honor schedule which was packed for the whole month already. Nonetheless and sadly enough, I had to do follow my doctor’s advice as he showed me how I could end up losing my voice if the chords get damaged any further. Once I overcame, that time, I, with all diligence, made sure that I maintain and take care of how much strain I’m putting on my voice.
Q. What other projects are you working on currently?
Doraemon, Chhota Bheem, Mighty Raju (English), Powerpuff Girls are some of the ongoing animation projects. I am doing the voice of Ceylan in ‘A Love Story’ on Zindagi channel and was also the voice of the cute little Mehmat Can in ‘Little Lord’. Darby in ‘My friends Tigger and Pooh’ is the cutest character that I am currently doing. Lending my voice to Arya Stark in ‘Game of Thrones’ in the last season we did for HBO was one roller coaster ride for. I also sing for the characters that I dub for, which is definitely more fun! I have dubbed in 11 Indian languages for TVCs including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Oriya, Assamese, Bengali, Marathi, Kannada.
Q. What piece of advice would you give to young people just starting out in the field of dubbing?
Everyone’s voice is unique. We just need some practice and polishing to make it sound good on the mic. Diction and expressions play an important role. Wrong pauses and stress on the wrong word can even change the meaning of a sentence or take away the weightage. Projection on the mic, Clarity in the words, Modulation in the voice to keep the listeners interested is some of the other important points to be taken care of. I know it sounds easy but trust me, once you are on the mic, it is different altogether. But practice will definitely make you perfect!
Q. What are your future goals? Where do you see yourself in the coming five years?
As the great saying goes: Past is history, Future is a mystery, Today is a Gift, that’s why it’s called “Present”. I am happy with what I am currently doing and I look forward to accept whatever opportunities or challenges come next.
Q. Have you ever pulled any sort of prank with your friends or family using your mimicry skills?
Oh Yes! A lot of times. I speak like a kid who has mistakenly dialed a number and is repeatedly asking for a chocolate very innocently. The person on the other end often falls for it and asks ‘Beta main apki mummy/papa nahi hun’, ‘Beta mummy kahan hain, unhe phone do’ I also sound like an IVR sometimes to pull a prank and my friends think there is an actual IVR on the other end.