Unsung Heroes? A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Lip-Syncing in American and Indian Film
Throughout the history of Hollywood, actors and actresses have resorted to voice-dubbing in the films in which they have had singing numbers. However, in American music performance practices, especially in the popular music and film industries, lip-syncing is often criticized, leading to debate over the technique. In comparison, Bollywood films also feature voice-dubbing and although there is hostility towards this technique in Hollywood it is perfectly acceptable in the Indian film industry. The majority of Bollywood films feature singing, and in all, it is the role of the voice-dubbers, also known as playback singers, to provide voices for the film stars. In addition, many of Bollywood’s playback singers have become as popular as the actors and actresses for whom they sing. Much of the reason for this stark difference in acceptance of voice-dubbers is found in the differentiating ideologies of authenticity surrounding the use of lip-syncing. In North America, listeners expect perfection in the performances, yet are disappointed when discovering that there are elements of inauthenticity in them. Yet in India, both film producers and audiences have accepted the need for the talents of multiple people to become involved in the film production. In this paper, I will first discuss ideologies surrounding musical authenticity then compare how these discourses have shaped and influenced the acceptance or rejection of voice-dubbers in Hollywood and Bollywood films.
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