Breaking new ground is never easy, but ventriloquist of international acclaim, Indushree Raveendra makes it seem simple, setting records one after the other and making it to several books that keep track of them.
One of the 112 exceptional women felicitated by the President with the ‘First Ladies Award,’ the Bengalurean shares her unusual tale of success fuelled by drive, determination and passion.
“I was told that stepping into the field of ventriloquism is impossible for a woman as changing voices in split seconds is tedious. But this only drove me to focus on battling the odds as I was fascinated by the way people modulated their voices to completely acquire the personality of a doll on stage,” explains Indushree, who lives in Hebbal Kempapua in the city.
Magic was, however, her first love but this led to her eternally growing interest in giving life to dolls, engaging them in active conversations, often arguments, leaving the audience with thought provoking ideas and views. Using humour, satire and spontaneous wit, Indushree has performed not with one but four hand-held puppets at a time, proving all those who have mocked at women’s ability to become ventriloquists, entirely wrong.
At the Mysuru Dasara in 2009 she used a 10-feet Mahishasura doll, and while contesting a national reality show, she even had ‘Rocky’ a live Labrador with her on stage
“Ventriloquism is an artistic superset, which works on a series of permutations and combinations. It brings together various art forms, including mimicry, manipulation, portrayal of different roles/perspectives at the same time, and more,” she tells you. To her delight she is often called Dinku (her flagship puppet)’s guardian.
Dinku, has in fact, become something of a national celebrity and is most popular for donning the roles of various politicians and filmstars like former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Karnataka Chief Minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy, Bihar strongman, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Karnataka BJP chief, B.S. Yeddyurappa and Kannada activist, Vatal Nagaraj, to name a few.
On her ability to strike a chord with her audience, Indushree says it all boils down to being well read and uptodate with current affairs. Using themes from subjects that are current is her mantra for success , she reveals. Being a postgraduate in communications, her expertise in three different languages, Kannada, English and Hindi, has often helped her present her ideas and closely tailored scripts in a manner that is appealing to a wider audience.
Her passion for ventriloquism has won Indushree a place in the LIMCA Book of Records five times for being the first female ventriloquist in the country, for being the first to do triple and four-dummy acts, for performing most number of live ventriloquy shows (68), and for performing with the tallest talking doll (10-ft tall Mahishasura at the Mysuru Dasara). Having been featured in the India Book of Records as well, this dextrous artiste is now working on making it to the Guinness Book of Records.
A semi-finalist on India’s Got Talent, Indushree and her talking puppet pals have been a constant presence in various media since early 2000, be it regional, national or international. Having travelled to more than 16 countries, she has performed in the US, Australia, Holland, Germany, France and numerous parts of the Middle East. Among the many awards that she has received over the past two decades are the Young Achiever Award, Global Shapers Award and the Indira Priyadarshini Award.
While she believes practice makes perfect, Indushree says compartmentalising her brain to give life to each doll is the most difficult part of her performance. Seen as a veteran in her field today, her enthusiasm to experiment and bring novelty to the domain has, however, not diminished with time. Her next big leap could be conversing with a live buffalo on stage and to use six puppets at a time in a performance.
“My goals have been often called too ambitious, but I feel that nothing can stop me from achieving them through practice and hard work,” she says firmly.
Indushree is active in sharing her expertise in ventroloquism to young aspirants unlike many in the domain who like to keep their ‘trade secrets’ to themselves. She travels frequently to Telangana to hold workshops and sessions at a university, which offers a degree course on mimicry and performing arts.
“Channelising my thoughts and coming up with ideas that are best for my shows often takes time and fortunately, life has opened up different paths to help me achieve my goals,” she says as she goes back to her mirror-practice session for her coming performance in Hong Kong next month.