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Late Puneeth Rajkumar’s James to be re-released with his voice on April 22

The film was earlier released in theatres with his brother Shivarajkumar dubbing for the part

Late Puneeth Rajkumar’s James to be re-released with his voice on April 22
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  • Prathibha Joy

Last Updated: 12.34 PM, Apr 19, 2022

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In the aftermath of Power Star Puneeth Rajkumar tragic and untimely demise, the director of his last commercial film James, Chethan Kumar, had said that he would be able to present the film to audiences. The plan was to release it on March 17, a mere four and a half months later. Initially, Chethan was confident of using modern technology to isolate Puneeth’s voice and use it as he had not dubbed for his role before his passing. But as time went by, Chethan said that it wasn’t possible and got the late actor’s brother, Century Star Shivarajkumar to dub for the role instead. The filmmaker added that he felt using a mimicry artiste would be disservice to Puneeth’s work and released the film with Shivarajkumar’s voice, as promised on March 17.

Last evening, days after the film dropped on OTT, the team had a new announcement – James to be re-released on April 22, with the added bonus of hearing Puneeth Rajkumar’s voice in the film. Speaking at the media briefing, Chethan explained that actor Srikanth Meka, who plays one of the villains of the film, had introduced him to Hyderabad-based sound engineer Pappu, who has been working on ground-breaking technology in audio preservation before the release of James. The engineer and his team had been working on a technology that would allow films to be released with the same voice quality across all languages as in the original. Pappu, who began experimenting on this technology for Prabhas’ pan-India film Adipurush, explains that the idea is to make sure that the actor’s voice and tone is used in all the languages that a film is being released in, without having to actually dub it separately each time.

Puneeth Rajkumar in a still from James
Puneeth Rajkumar in a still from James

Pappu, who has been working in the film industry as a sound engineer for the last 25 years, had asked the team to provide him audio clippings of Puneeth’s voice that they had captured during the making of James, as well as 15-hours’ worth of his vocals from various sources, including interviews, Kannadada Kotiyadipati, films like Ranavikrama, Yuvarathnaa, etc., all of which was used to isolate his voice, which was then used to recreate his lines in James.

Although the team had been working on this for a while, the process could not be completed in time for the March 17 release, but early last week they had a breakthrough, says Chethan. “They sent us a bunch of audio files, which, quite literally had us in shock. Such was the quality of what they’d achieved. So, we headed to Hyderabad, where the audio was then loaded for the entire film. We were all teary-eyed with joy seeing the film with Appu sir’s voice,” adds Chethan.

Although James has been released on OTT as of April 14, the film is still playing at a select number of movie halls, where the soundtrack will be updated, so that from April 22, audiences can watch the film with Puneeth’s voice.

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