Gary Tantony - the dubbing ninja of Bollywood!

By M Andre: Exclusive Interview with Garry Tantony, Mumbai, India

Note: The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of

Have you ever thought of what it would take to become a voice artist?

Have you ever thought of what it would take to become a dubbing artist in India when you can only speak English?

Yes, the same question has bugged our editing team since we plucked this fabulous wonder - Gary Tantony - out of the other dimension known as Bollywood.

Let Retox Magazine introduce you to:

Gary Tantony - a talented trained Super-Puppy of the Bollywood dubbing industry.

Do not doubt us! We saw it, we heard it, we walked away impressed. Gary Tantony is a programmed machine, a library of voices, an infinite well of verbal possibilities, he is… The Dubbing Ninja of Bollywood!

When Gary first arrived to India, little did he know about the infinite possibilities of Bollywood and he certainly did not speak a word of any of the local languages. That, my friends, was 33 years ago...


Retox Magazine: So Gary, what in the world possessed you to hop over the Atlantic puddle - all the way to India and start growing your roots in Bollywood? What’s your story?

Gary Tantony: I had a flatmate from India who was studying music in England at the time and later became famous. He even played for the queen of England and he is also a Parsee, which the British Raj loved. His piano playing is second to none, he even gave a concert in Mumbai once at the Max Mulla Bavan and played Brahms organ works on the piano, which is the toughest thing do... Anyway, when he eventually decided to move to India I decided to tag along and presto, here I am!


Retox Magazine: How did you fall into this trap of Bollywood and voice work in Mumbai?

Gary Tantony: My first movie was Swami Dada, Dev Anand - a background shot. Then right after that I met someone at a studio who asked me to do a voice-over for a Hindi movie and I got paid 200 rupees! Wow! ...Well, it was a lot in those days.


Retox Magazine: What was your first dubbing job like? Please tell us you were nervous!

Gary Tantony: It was a group dubbing and it was fun. Nervous? Me? - Nah!


Retox Magazine: Was your first job in English?

Gary Tantony: Kinda. Some stupid small-time movie. I had to speak one line in English and one in Marathi.


Retox Magazine: So when did you start learning Hindi or whatever the language you speak there. (Last I’ve checked, there were 452 individual languages listed for India, out of which 438 are living languages and 14 have no known speakers. Any chance you speak all of them? – Just kidding!)

Gary Tantony: Well, living in India half my life you tend to pick up a word or two. I also took tuitions in Hindi but somehow it never worked out. The only way to learn is from the street, and there is only one language spoken here now and that is MONEY.


Retox Magazine: Have you done a dubbing in Hindi? How did that work out?

Gary Tantony: Plenty, for radio and film. As long as I get the script one or two days in advance then no probs, on the spot - forget it!

Gary Tantony dubbing session


Retox Magazine: How many dubbing jobs have you ever done? Can you give us a rough figure?

Gary Tantony: Must be at least 30 or 40.


Retox Magazine: Tell us about the funniest character you had to dub.

Gary Tantony: Well this is a bit embarrassing but here it goes. I was asked to dub for a horror movie. It was about an English couple that lived in a house in Lonavala back in the 20th century. While dubbing a few lines I was asked to pretend I was kissing my wife in bed and making love to her. Since there was no female around to practice on, I had to improvise the sounds with my hands. I was told kissing my hand would make it more realistic and I would be in control (-I am always in control). Anyway, with all the spit and the drooling running down my hands I said to them that it would be better and more realistic if I had a female to actually do it with, which of course was a joke. Just then a female walks in and I, of course, think she was sent in for me. So I asked her, "How do you want to do this?" She replied, "Do what?" I said, "Kiss!" You can imagine the look of surprise on her face when I said that! She just turned around and stormed out. Since I had the headphones off I couldn’t hear what was being said to me in the control room. It turned out that the female that came in was a script lady. The dubbing crew were laughing their heads off but I was as red as the devil himself. I later apologised but felt like a real wanker. After that I said no more dubbing for love making scenes. (..unless???) ...How embarrassing!


Retox Magazine: Did you ever have to dub an animal? We’re asking this question just because we’d love to imagine you making monkey noises, that’s all…

Gary Tantony: Yes, about two months back for an animation movie. I think it was a wolf but I can’t remember.


Retox Magazine: Would you be able to dub a 4 year old?

Gary Tantony: Yep. I even do the Donald Duck voice. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid.


Retox Magazine: Did you ever storm out of a dubbing session? If so, why? What happened?

Gary Tantony: Only once, they kept me longer than they said they would and wanted to pay less.


Retox Magazine: In fact, tell us about your funniest dubbing experience, give us some stories!

Gary Tantony: Well the one above was the funniest. But once I was dubbing for the movie Goal (starring John Abraham) and I had to dub the final football match as the commentator. Since I like football and I have frequently heard the commentators on TV, it was second nature to me. Anyway after I finished the dubbing the worst happened, I lost my voice for at least three days. Must stop smoking!


Retox Magazine: What's your biggest dubbing nightmare?

Gary Tantony: Lip-syncing in Hindi.


Retox Magazine: Mine would be using the same microphone that everyone else had to use. Think about it, one might be breathing down the microphone with a fishy breath, another might be spitting on it after having a few beers – think of all the yeast brewing in that microphone! Don’t you mind using the same microphone as everyone else?

Gary Tantony: Always wipe it. If you can.


Retox Magazine: Have you ever said something really really bad when you didn’t realise you were being recorded? ...We bet you have! What was it?

Gary Tantony: Yes. I said to a friend standing with me at the mic, "Who ever wrote these lines needs to go back to school," and just then someone replied from the control room, "It’s my writing." I just looked away and started laughing. I don’t think they will call me ever again.


Retox Magazine: What do you love endlessly and hate passionately about your job?

Gary Tantony: Love the money but not the hours.


Retox Magazine: If we sent you to a very different part of the world, where you had to start from scratch – we are thinking Russia, would you be up for it?

Gary Tantony: London yes! Russia, forget it.


Retox Magazine: What is the secret behind becoming such a successful dubbing artist?

Gary Tantony: Knowing what you are doing, thinking twice before you say your lines and trying to improvise whenever you can.


Retox Magazine: For all of those who would love to become a dubbing artist, what advice could you give?

Gary Tantony: Test your voice and see if you can do other voice characters, then you are on your way.


Retox Magazine: Tell us a popular joke in your industry (dubbing industry).

Gary Tantony: Always have water and tea and good friends on stand by. Water to help your voice and tea to pass the time and friends that screw up and you can laugh about.


Retox Magazine: What are your ambitions and future plans now?

Gary Tantony: Lets see what god plans.


Retox Magazine: Can we buy you out and make you switch careers?

Gary Tantony: Make me an offer!


Retox Magazine: Now ask yourself a question and answer it.

Gary Tantony: Are you a good dubbing artist? – Yes, of course, the best!

Interview with Gary Tantony, Mumbai, India. Exclusively for Retox Magazine.


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