Every four seconds, her voice changed. From male to female, celebrity to celebrity. Akhila, a young woman with an extraordinary skill to mimic voices, stood on a stage and changed voice a whopping 51 times, in less than four minutes. The act, done as part of a reality show aired on Flowers TV, brought Akhila a lot of attention after the video went viral.
It’s not the first time, she says. Earlier, as part of the same show Comedy Utsavam, she had done an impression of actor Asif Ali in his presence. The actor liked it so much that he hugged her. “After that, I have become his fan,” she says, smiling. That episode, too, got the young artiste noticed.
Akhila AS is a final year Bachelors student of Ayurveda Medicine. She hails from Nedumangad in Thiruvananthapuram district. It is in her schooldays – at the Manarul Huda HSS in Nedumangad -- that she began doing voice impressions. “For interschool competitions, no one would participate in mimicry. It was a girls’ only school and I thought maybe I should give it a shot,” Akhila says.
Even as Kerala’s mimicry artistes became popular decades ago and many of them ended up as film actors too, few women have ventured into the field. Akhila, as a child, must have noticed this void when the opportunity came. No one told her to do this, she picked it up on her own.
“At first it was just animal sounds that I did. The first person I mimicked is singer Janakiamma. I sang her song 'Azhakadal,'” Akhila says.
She then began mimicking her class teachers on the school’s annual day and was promptly appreciated for the rare skill “It’s all self-training, from watching a lot of television and doing a lot of practice,” she says.
Asif Ali and television personality Ranjini Haridas have heard Akhila do their voice impressions on different occasions. “Both of them were happy with it,” she says.
In the 51-voice segment that went viral, she’s mimicked everyone, from Ranjini to actor Kamal Haasan to Baby Shalini’s dubbed voice in the film Pookkalam Varavayi, politicians like VS Achuthanandan and Oommen Chandy and even the ‘Swasakosham’ man Gopan Nair who is the voice behind the anti-smoking ads shown in movie theatres.
“It was a prepared segment,” Akhila says, and obliges to do a few voices for TNM.
She has now added beat-boxing to her voice impressions. “I got the idea from watching Adarsh, another contestant in Comedy Utsavam," she says.
She has made her own music for Gopan Nair’s anti-smoking ad, she does the sounds of Michael Jackson’s 'Dangerous' and so on.
And here's Akhila doing beatboxing pic.twitter.com/yOXRepHbD6— Cris (@cristweets) January 1, 2020
Akhila has also become part of the first ladies-only mimics parade group from Kerala.