Amazon’s Audible debuts in India: Radhika Apte, Kalki Koechlin, Rajkummar Rao launch audiobooks platform

Aishwarya Sahasrabudhe

November 15, 2018 10:48:16 IST

Three of Indian cinema’s most critically acclaimed actors Radhika Apte, Kalki Koechlin and Rajkummar Rao launched Amazon’s audiobooks platform Audible in India at a ceremony on 13 November, 2018 with a narration of Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges’ Mafia Queens of Mumbai.

For Apte, who marked her foray into the digital platforms this year with hits such as Lust Stories and Sacred Games, reading a part of this novel for the audiobook puts yet another feather in her versatility cap. Working on this project was a “no-brainer” she says, as after she was first introduced to Audible, she discovered not only the books which were not readily available but also experienced a feeling of new found time as those many car journeys she undertakes had suddenly become very fruitful.

Radhika Apte, Rajkummar Rao and Kalki Koechlin narrated Hussain Zaidi's work Mafia Queens of Mumbai for Audible's launch in India.

Radhika Apte, Rajkummar Rao and Kalki Koechlin narrated Hussain Zaidi's work Mafia Queens of Mumbai for Audible's launch in India.

“I was actually looking forward to that time to listen to the next chapter, like how you go home to watch the next episode of something,” she says.

Apte also points out that India has always had a culture of storytelling. “I remember listening to PL Deshpande’s tales and of course aai (mother) and aaji (grandmother) used to tell you stories before going to bed.”

So storytelling, especially at bedtime, is everywhere and audiobooks will bring that habit back, she adds. “Children aren’t the only ones who need stories, adults need storytelling too.”

She also says that for an actor, this is an extremely great way of voice training and communicating through voice alone. Devoid of visuals, the focus of the audience is centred only on the voice so it must be subtle and nuanced: the voice quality, pauses, articulation are all very different from a voiceover which has a visual attached to it.

Koechlin who has previously hosted the BBC World Service podcast Kalki Presents: My Indian Life, says that it helped her to have done the podcast prior to this narration. One of the essential things about audio recording according to her is to have an ease in your voice.

“It’s almost like you are whispering in someone’s ear,” she says “because when they plug their earphones in, you actually are in their ear so you can’t be an annoying voice.”

Koechlin had read Zaidi’s work back when it first released in 2011. Based on the lives of the women mafia in Mumbai, she found the book to be one which discusses stories that we seldom hear of. One of the reasons than that she undertook the project was to narrate the tales of these women.

Currently listening to Oscar Wilde's poems, Koechlin says that it is hard to read voraciously with tight schedules but platforms like Audible are a way to catch up on all literature.

With the US-based Amazon.com subsidiary Audible, the e-commerce giant has paved its way into the Indian market with over 4,50,000 audio programs which also include Audible Originals, audiobooks created by storytellers, especially for Audible Studios.

Also read: Audible Audio Books Platform Launched At Rs 199 Per Month With A Free 30-Day Trial

Koechlin says that she is also waiting for Audible to enter into regional languages. “I can read Hindi but it takes me forever to read in Devnagri so it will be so nice for me to catch up on Hindi literature through this medium.”

For her part, Apte also looks forward to Audible launching regional language works. She mentions that studying in an English medium school she read a lot of English books and while she can still read in Marathi, she completely missed out on the treasure troves of Hindi literature.

Many times it so happens, Rao points out, that we want to read books but for some reason, we cannot find the time and such a platform will help us listen to a book, while travelling, working out or cooking. “You just have to play it and start writing a story,” he says.

Rao, whose most recent film Stree crossed the 100-crore mark, says that as an actor, it was a challenging feat for him to work on this narration. “It’s like a solo performance in a way, that too without using any visual format.”

However he also notes that the fun of storytelling is that we as listeners create our own imaginary world about all those characters and in the same way even in an audiobook, we narrate those stories and those characters but as a listener one would imagine that world and those characters and in a way participate in the process of telling the story.

Amazon’s Audible is priced at Rs 199 per month with a 30-day free trial for first-timers and a 90-day free trial for Amazon Prime members.

Updated Date: Nov 15, 2018 10:48 AM