By now, everyone who has watched Barfi! should be impressed by how much the lead actors spoke through their silence. But of the voices that were heard in the film, the narrative voice of Ileana Dcruz emerged as one of the most powerful. And the happy fact is that the voice belongs to, as most of you might have guessed, our very own Jayati Bhatia! After playing Mataji in Sasural Simar Ka and dancing her way into our hearts in Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Jayati has made her debut as a voice artist in Barfi! We spoke to her about her Barfi! experience. Following are the excerpts:
How did you become a part of Barfi?
Jayati Bhatia: Anurag (Basu) is a very dear friend of mine since more than 12 years. I worked with him on a TV show Manzilein Apni Apni. Though we don't meet often, his mother is very fond of me and I attend Saraswati Puja at his place every year. So on 20th August, I got a call from an unknown number but as usual, my phone was in the make up room. (chuckles) I did not call back because I didn't know the number but at night, I got a message from Taani (Anurag's wife) asking me to call Anurag. I also asked my husband to remind me, but it still slipped my mind that I had to call him. The next day, I got a call and the person on the other end started speaking in Bengali. I recognized him as Anurag and he said that I need to do the dubbing for his new film. And that was that!
Did you have any apprehensions about taking this up?
Jayati Bhatia: Of course! I had never done something like this. Anurag said that it would be a narration so I thought it was just 2 or 3 lines. I was still unsure about doing this but Anurag said that he had faith in me. Based on his belief, I took it up. I thought it would be 3-4 lines at the most. Imagine my shock that the narration was to run through the entire movie!
How was the experience of dubbing for such a different film?
Jayati Bhatia:Oh it was beautiful! I watched excerpts of the film to time my voice with the scene and I was impressed! I always respected Anurag as a film-maker but this film truly touched me. I took 3-4 hours to do it and Anurag too, came for two hours and guided me. I took some time but I got the hang of it after a while and loved the experience.
How did you contribute to the voice of the character?
Jayati Bhatia:I observed Ileana in some scenes. What a beautiful girl she is! Anyway, she doesn't open her mouth too wide while talking whereas I speak with an open mouth. So I had to take care of that. Also, she is narrating the events of a long time ago. So there had to be some detachment in her voice. Also Shruti's (Ileana) character remembers that time, Barfi's positivity with a lot of fondness. I tried to bring that across in her voice. So in my own way, through my voice, I lived the entire life of Shruti. I'm an invisible part of the film. Guess I am the Mr. India in Barfi! (laughs uproariously)
What kind of reactions did you get after the release?
Jayati Bhatia:Anurag did not contact me after my job was done. But on the day of the release, my phone was AGAIN in my make up room, and when I came back there were many messages. I was pleasantly surprised to know from my friends that Anurag had given me front credits in the film. That was a great gesture on his part.
How have your colleagues reacted to your presence in the film?
Jayati Bhatia:I watched the movie with Ssumeir(Shailu in Sasural Simar Ka) and Ashiesh Roy. They loved my voice in the film! Sattu (Vishal) watched the movie and couldn't tell that it was my voice. For me that's a great compliment! Shweta Tiwari recognized me from my laughter during the narrative. I'm very happy about all these compliments coming my way.
Speaking of compliments, what is the best compliment that you have gotten for Barfi!?
Jayati Bhatia:The best and most oft-repeated compliment was that my narration felt like a natural part of the movie and never felt jarring even for a minute. Some people felt that I was actually sitting beside them and talking to them. That is a beautiful thing to say and I feel like I have done a good job.
What are your thoughts about the film?
Jayati Bhatia:I thought Barfi! was a beautifully filmed piece. Nowadays with the 100-crore business game, the artist in me fears for the film industry. But this film is such a well made film. Ranbir and Priyanka have done a wonderful job in it and even Ileana, inspite of being new, has acted very well. I would love to be part of such films in the future too!