Bollywood Stars Dubbing for Hollywood Films – Marketing Strategy or Creative Call?


Popular film stars are increasingly dubbing for major Hollywood films released in Hindi. Are professional dubbing artistes feeling the heat? Hira M from Sugar Mediaz Voice Industry Blog makes an observation.


The brain is almost trained to instantly recognize actor voices the moment they speak. It is just because like we can recognize our family voices eyes closed so can we recognize some of the actor voices that we have heard in countless movies. Our country is obsessed with the actors of our film industry. So it is not difficult to understand why the voicing industry is using Indian actors’ voices to dub for a character’s voice in Hollywood feature films, cartoons and animated films released in India.

So when did it all start?

So when exactly did celebrity voicing take over the world of voice acting because more than twenty years ago, the voice acting profession belonged to unknown voice actors trained to provide voices for animated characters.

It is said that this can be traced back to a single Disney film called Aladdin and the powerful voicing of the Genie by Robbin Williams.  Celebrity voices grab people’s attention and this is why animated cartoons and films are so successful today.

Some actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Kangana ranaut, Akshay Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha, etc. have such distinctive voices that the public can easily identify them. Another plus point is that the film markets have realised that even adults enjoy watching these cartoons cartoon and animated films just because the characters have Bollywood actors’ voices.

Marketing benefits of using a Celebrity Voice

So it is not difficult to understand why production houses today are more than willing to use celebrity voices and paying more too because being associated with a actor benefits their brand. Even though animated films are still at a nascent stage in India, more and more actors are now willing to dub for films in this genre. Though Hollywood counterparts are already way ahead, Hindi film actors are opening up to the idea of lending voice to animated characters.

Bollywood Superstars or Dubbing Artistes?!

With the Hindi version of ‘The Incredibles’ (2004), Shahrukh Khan made his debut as the Voice for character of Lajawab. His first step to dub for this film has today paved the way for other Bollywood actors to follow suit. Take for example, the Hindi version of Disney’s The Jungle Book voice cast  of Nana Patekar, Om Puri, Irrfan, Priyanka Chopra and Shefali Shah which received accolades. Following this success, Disney went ahead and collaborated with actor Varun Dhawan for a superhero flick Captain America 3: Civil War.  There are many more movies dubbed in Hindi by actors such as Roadside Romeo (An Indian movie by Yashraj Films) with voices of Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan, Jumbo (2008) featuring voices of Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Dimple Kapadia, Rajpal Yadav, Asrani, Gulshan Grover, and Yuvraj Singh; Mahabharat (An Indian movie) the historical epic featuring voices of Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Vidya Balan, Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Manoj Bajpayee and Deepti Naval; Delhi Safari ((An Indian movie)) with the voices of Akshaye Khanna, Govinda, Sunil Shetty, Boman Irani, and Urmila Matondkar; Ramayana: The Epic ((An Indian movie)) with Manoj Bajpayee, Juhi Chawla and Ashutosh Rana. Not to forget successful Hindi versions of Rio 2 (2014) where Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha lent their voices and Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) voiced by Vivek Oberoi.



Professional Dubbing Artistes – Feeling the heat

This scenario has brought a lot of pain to the dubbing industry especially as they feel that celebrity voicing has nearly muffled the voice of experience. The industry is getting more competitive as celebrities are taking over jobs that once went to veteran voice actors. Though there are many The faceless, nearly anonymous, traditional voice actors voicing characters like Ben10, Doremon, Chhota Bheem, Krishna, etc. who reach millions of children will always remember their voices—but no one ever know their names. However, this niche has offered employment and a lot of scope for artists and is an area that has not yet been run over by film actors.  It may not be long before celebrities with distinct and recognisable voices may grab people’s attention in this area too.  There is still though a thought to consider and debate whether having a celebrity voice actually helps or is just a status symbol for production houses, etc. as the key is for the voice to be memorable. Technology is making the business even more cut throat as behind the scenes it gives the actor an opportunity to draw upon other talents and grow more as a recognizable celebrity.

All is not lost yet

While a lot of voice actors who are not celebrities wish that celebrities would leave this business alone, public acceptance and technology is making the business even more cut throat. Not only are they facing heat from film actors but today young and enthusiastic youth and amateurs are nipping at their heels. Thanks to the internet, today anybody and anyone is able to upload their voices and showcase themselves a voice actor giving production houses more options. Though one cannot deny the fact that it is a booming market out there of Hindi versions being dubbed by celebrities, there are many voice artists who can mimic them and therefore there are still people out there who are using mimics as they can’t afford the actor themselves. Doomsday has not yet set in as there is no dearth of work for talented voices and not every project can be voiced by an actor.

7 Responses

  1. Yogesh Rokde

    We are living in the so called life of COMPETITION. No Matter which field it is. Voice Acting Field is also the part of this. However, the future of this industry is very bright for upcoming and talented artiste, But one should be good at having a different voice range.

    Its only the Marketing strategy of production companies to use Bollywood Actors for Dubbing. However, Sky is the Limit. If one can have the talent then He/she must lend their voices.

    • Sugar Mediaz

      Hi Yogesh,

      Thank you for your valued comment. We agree with you that competition will only help artistes get better and if one has the right talent then nothing can stop that talent from succeeding! Keep reading.
      – Sugar Mediaz

      • Yogesh Rokde

        Ohh i just love your articles about this industry. I will never stop reading it. 🙂
        Just waiting for another. 🙂

  2. Tushar Mirdha Shain

    In my candid opinion, film stars should just stick to their field and not deprive the deserving talents in the field of dubbing. Unfortunately, audience gets floored by a film star’s voice easily, whereas a non film talent has to make it only on his voice . So I guess voice overs should be left just for the voice talented people.

    • Sugar Mediaz

      Hi Tushar,

      Thank you for your valued opinion. We guess that many voice artistes echo the same sentiments. There is another view that these celebrities bring in audiences due to their ‘face value’. Having said that, it is conversations like these through such articles and interactions that will go a long way in getting the Voice Acting Industry a FACE in the long run, so thank you again and do keep reading 🙂

      – Sugar Mediaz

  3. Anand Purohit

    We are mimic artist waiting such floor. When the opportunity will come. We only assured by such sharing notion. Let us call us and seek to she our work.

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