Deepika Padukone’s Tamil accent in Chennai Express can be considered cute and boring, depending on which side of the bed the viewer woke up on.
But have you ever wondered where our Bollywood divas get their Yankee accents from every time they come back from the States? The way Mallika Sherawat rolls her ‘r’s on CNN on Priyanka Chopra teases a tantalizing twang in her tongue when she talks to Pitbul just makes you a winner… I mean, wonder about all the wonderful voice and voice transformations diction that our stars have suffered to play a character.
1. Saif Ali Khan in Omkara: To play Meerut Saif Ali Khan’s goon Langa Tyagi had to shed his British twang. Before Omkara Saif even spoke his simple Hindi dialogues as if he had trouble reading on a teleprinter. The role of Langda Tyagi changed Saif’s voice and diction. It was not easy. Director Vishal Bhardwaj recorded all dialogue in his own voice. Saif played the tapes until the diction was embedded in his head.
2. Naseeruddin Shah in Pestonji: we have seen Parsis like Boman Irani wearing Parsi accents. But when Naseeruddin Shah played Pestonjee in Vijaya Mehta’s film, he didn’t sound like a Parsi. He spoke as one would imagine Pestonjee speaking. There was no bragging quality about coming to me in the speech. Naseer was talking like he was playing blind in sparse.Without self-congratulations.
3. Shabana Azmi in mandi: Her Hyderabadi colloquialisms in Shyam Benegal’s film about a brothel of happy prostitutes were so deadly that you didn’t get the feeling for a second that she repeated those lines before she said it. Shabana took to Hyderabadi lingo so naturally that she found it hard to get out of it once filming was over. She even sang a song Bola main kitti bar in that Hyderabadi accent.
4. Shah Rukh Khan in Chaahat: In this little-known film by Mahesh Bhatt, Shah Rukh and Anupam Kher played a son and father from Rajasthan. SRK, who generally likes to maintain his own style of speaking, accepted a vocal makeover from Rajasthan which, for once, was not ‘Rahul’, but Roop Singh Rathod, the folk singer from rural Rajasthan.
5. Amitabh Bachchan in Ganges Ki Saugandh: Normally, the baritone Bachchan remained intact. That’s how the audience liked it. But to play the Ganga Kinare Ka Chora named Jeeva who turns into a dacoit, the Big B adopted a Bhojpuri accent and diction.
6. Raj Kapoor in Teesri Kasam: To play Hiraman, Bihari countryside ox-cart rider Raj Kapoor had to unlearn his Punjabi Hindi and convince producer (lyricist) Shailendra that he could carry the character’s speech. RK worked hard to get it right. There was a voice coach on hand in Bihar to make sure RK understood.
seven. Dilip Kumar in Ganga Djumna: Before playing the bugger of rural Uttar Pradesh, Dilip Kumar wanted to master the Awadhi language of the region. No half measures for this actor of method. The mighty Thespian found himself an Awadhi tutor who helped the actor shape his fluent Urdu into a freewheeling Awadhi-Bhojpuri accent.
8. Ranbir Kapoor in besharam: 45 years after Raj Kapoor’s Bihari accent in Teesri Kasam his grandson masters Delhi-UP lingo for Abhinav Kashyap’s film. Set sources say Ranbir is so similar to his character that Honey Singh wants to write a song based on Ranbir’s character, Babli, and sung with the same accent Ranbir adopted. Cool.
9. Ranveer Singh in Ram Leela: You cannot lower Ranveer’s Enthusiasm level. For this Gujarat-based adaptation of Romeo and Juliet Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali wanted Ranveer to learn the Gujju dialect spoken in the Kutch region of Gujarat. Ranveer went out of his way to insist on speaking with his character’s focus on the sets and location, even off-camera. He apparently pushed Deepika against the wall with his bhasha obsession.
ten. Deepika Padukone in Chennai Express: So okay. Her fat Lola Kutty accent gets on our nerves to begin with. But then it grows inside us until we start to appreciate Deepika’s flat Tamil diction. It takes courage to deliver a speech as broad as this. But then Deepika is fearless today. She can play anything. From Meena Amma to Juliette Behn.