Published: 21st August 2020
Meet Deepika Arun, the narrator of Tamil audiobooks in podcast land!
Her podcast channel Kadhai Osai, launched in April 2019, has works of famous Tamil authors and you can listen to it across all platforms
Audiobooks were initially considered a great alternative for those who didn’t like to read. But over time, with increasingly improving narrative techniques and voice modulations, audiobooks have developed their own fanbase. Now, it is a tool of convenience that people can listen to while doing chores, driving, or even at work. However, what was lacking in the audiobook culture was quality content in Indian regional languages. And that is where Deepika Arun stepped in. With her content streaming on YouTube and platforms like Spotify, Google Podcast and Apple Podcast, Deepika is providing Tamil listeners their favourite classics in their own language.
Launched in April 2019, Deepika’s podcast, where she narrates books, is called Kadhai Osai (meaning ‘sound of a story’). Speaking about how she began narrating audiobooks, Deepika says, “I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series and have read the books multiple times. But then my brother asked me to listen to the audiobooks, in Stephen Fry’s narration. While I was initially skeptical, when I heard it, I was absolutely floored. It became an addiction and I would listen to it all the time - while cooking, cleaning and even driving.” Deepika ended finishing the series in a matter of four months. “Then, I wanted to listen to some of my favourite books as audiobooks in Tamil. I had grown up reading books in both English and Tamil,” she says.
And that is when she found inspiration.
“The audiobooks in Tamil were problematic. Some of them didn’t have the right pronunciation while some others had bad audio or the background music was too loud to make out the narration,” says Deepika, adding, “This exposed the gap in Tamil audiobooks. I decided to invest in a microphone, learn the basics of sound editing and began recording.” And that is how Kadhai Osai was born! Till now, Deepika has recorded almost 50 titles in Tamil that includes work of authors like Kalki, La Sa Ramamirtham, Sandeepika.
Deepika, however, ensures that she only narrates books in the public domain or those for which she has permission. “I have worked on books like Parthiban Kanavu, Anjali and Poi Maan Karadu. However, if I’m able to connect to an author and secure their permission then I narrate their stories,” she explains. Deepika uploads one chapter of a book every day. “During the lockdown, I have been working on Kalki’s Sivagamiyin Sabatham, which has four volumes,” she says.
After working on Kadhai Osai, Deepika got a lot of offers to narrate audiobooks. One of them was from Storytel, for which she is now the Tamil publisher. “There are a lot of people around the world who are looking for quality content in Tamil. When I approached Storytel with the idea, they took me on board as a consultant. However, I have also narrated over 15 books for the platform,” says the 33-year-old. She is now working with Storytel full time after signing with them in August, last year.
Other than Kadhai Osai, Deepika also has a podcast for children called Chittukuruvi (meaning sparrow) where she narrates stories, poems riddles and puzzles. “Pronunciation is a challenge in Tamil and it is important for children to learn it at a young age. This podcast helps them develop a taste for the language which has been impacted by too much modernisation,” Deepika rues. Her proximity to children, however, dates long back. “For four years, I had been running an activity centre for children called Jhoola - a gadget-free zone - but had to shut it due to the pandemic,” she adds. She was very particular to not take it online as she felt that it defeats the purpose of promoting a gadget-free environment.