A ‘mammoth’ effort

Arjun Kapoor, who has dubbed for the Hindi version of Ice Age: Collision Course, tells me what it was like to mimic other actors like Anil Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, and Sanjay Dutt

When Arjun Kapoor says that being an actor doesn’t just mean facing the camera, he isn’t just drawing generic quotes from Cliches 101 for Actors. He really means it. And that’s why he’s dubbed for the Hindi version of the upcoming Hollywood animation film, Ice Age: Collision Course—to show that honing skills in a variety of areas, including voice acting, make one a better actor.

Fox Star Studios, he says, showed him the film, and asked him to pick the role he’d like to dub for. He, however, didn’t pick the main protagonists—Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth, and Diego the tiger. His rather surprising choice was a smaller character: Buck the weasel. “He’s a mad, really hyperactive character. It was a throwback to old-school Hindi comedians for me.”

Buck, a one-eyed, slightly nutty weasel, may have lesser screen time, but is instrumental in saving the main characters. As part of the dubbing, Arjun also had to mimic Bollywood actors, including Anil Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, and Sanjay Dutt. “I also speak in various accents, including Hyderabadi, Punjabi, and Marathi.” Interestingly, Arjun had never tried mimicry before. “I didn’t realise I had such an armoury of voices within me. I know they say every actor can imitate a few people, but I didn’t know I could pull it off. Only when I was put in the spot did I realise I didn’t sound bad at all.”

Growing up, Arjun says he was quite fascinated by animation films, including, of course, the Ice Age franchise. With the exception of the last film, Ice Age: Continental Drift, he’s watched all of them. “It wasn’t necessary for my understanding of Buck that I watch Continental Drift.” While he has dubbed versions of Tamil and Telugu films, he’s never watched a dubbed Hollywood film. Dubbed films, after all, target a different section of the audience, and it is for that reason that some script changes were done when adapting the film in Hindi. “I’ll just say that it’s commercialised in the best way possible.”

While the dialogues were set in stone, Arjun says he was still provided with a lot of freedom in delivery. “I could improvise within the set parameters.” The whole process took him all of two days. “It’s important for an actor find his positives, and I think I’ve found one of mine by doing this.” This doesn’t, of course, get him any closer to Hollywood. “Perhaps if I had dubbed for the English version?” he jokes.

Up next for Arjun is Half Girlfriend, the adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s eponymous novel. “Something about Chetan Bhagat’s stories and you, eh?” I joke, considering he has previously done 2 States. He laughs. “I joke about it too. But this came about organically. Mohit Suri wanted me. I think I suit Chetan’s protagonists.” The film will be a while coming, but for the moment, Arjun is excited about watching his first-ever dubbed Hollywood film.

This article was written for The Hindu. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share it.

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