A few years ago I wrote the script for the corporate film of the company I was working for. Since I was too supervise the production and the recording also, I went to the studio in Bandra to see the editing of the text and visuals. The agency executive met me at the recording studio and in the darkness of the studio he played the voice he had recorded.
As I listened to the recording I was reminded of "the voice" as the sound I was listening to bore an exact resemblance to him. I said:
"This sounds like 'the voice,' but not quite," to the executive.
"Yes, 'the voice' has become an industry standard." There are many imitators but none can capture his exact talent and style.
He knew 'the voice,' as I did. 'The Voice' was one of the people in advertising whose accent was imitated, inflections and half-tone intonations were copied, whose baritone was what studio executives craved for ad films and corporate audio visuals. I remember in the eighties sitting in darkened theatres and hearing the smooth baritone waft from the stereo speakers, creating an aura of richness and of the good life. Alas, those days are no more! They were ones sweetened by a youth gone waste, nothing done, nothing achieved.
I remember him being active till the very end. A few years ago, he attended the Kala Ghoda Literary Festival, breathing from an oxygen tank as he wasn't keeping well.
But when he died, no newspaper carried an obituary. It's a shame to let the great among us die unsung, ignored. We are a profligate people who heap praise on an actor who does a hamming job, but don't respect the memory of a man who moved the standards up another notch. I hope to compensate.
'The Voice' was Pratap Sharma, writer, broadcaster, playwright, ad man and humanitarian. He wrote a detective story serial called "Dog Detective Ranjha." He is no more. I didn't know him personally, but I will always remember him from his 'voice.'
Here's the Wikipaedia article on him. Pratap Sharma, R.I.P.
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