We spoke to Uttam Thacker, stock trader, model and VO artiste.
“I saw the first ad on WhatsApp and thought that it was an Anil Kapoor lookalike dancing. I thought I had voiced for a mimicry artiste. When I saw the ad on TV… Woah, it was actually Anil Kapoor doing the famous ‘Ram Lakhan’ steps.”
This is what happened to Uttam Thacker, the voice-over (VO) artiste behind the now part-of-pop-culture ‘Download Cred’ ads. Thacker saw the (first) ad on a small screen. And, because of the dark background (of the ad), he thought that the always youthful Anil Kapoor was a mimicry artiste dancing in what’s, perhaps, the best ad campaign yet in 2020.
When yours truly called Thacker to understand how he became part of CRED’s ‘Not everyone gets it’ campaign, he was intimidated at first. It’s one thing to hear a VO on a commercial, but when the same voice speaks to you over the phone, you pause and count to five.
Turns out that Thacker is a multi-skilled professional. We were surprised when he told us that his main business was stock trading, and his VO journey happened when he modelled for a Lifebuoy soap commercial from 1998.
The goalkeeper who jumps for the soap, and in the end, he says, "Yeh saabun hai ya toofan mail...."
It was Sanjiv Shah, director at Enigma Films, who told Thacker, “You’ve got a decent voice…” So, Thacker decided to just go for it. It was, however, his meeting with actor Nana Patekar at a play called ‘Parush’ that laid the real foundation for his VO career.
The lead army man in the Crocin commercial.
“He liked my voice and instilled the confidence…. you have a decent voice and should seriously think in terms of voicing as a career, and that’s how it started,” remarked Thacker. This was in 2000, but it was only in 2006-07 that voicing became the bread and butter for Thacker. Today, he has nearly 15 years of experience, and has voiced corporate audiovisuals, commercials, anchored events, and dubbed for movies too.
The CRED gig
Vikram Solanki, a post supervisor at Early Man Film, the ad production agency behind the CRED campaign, reached out to Sundar Sethuraman, founder of ‘The Voice Bank’, an audio production house. Sethuraman, in turn, contacted Thacker, told him about this particular project and asked if he’d be interested. Said Thacker, “Yeah, why not?” Solanki then stepped into the picture.
The brief from Solanki was - not much of excitement and a matter of fact. As per Thacker, once Solanki explained what they were looking for, and a few tries later, it was completed in three takes.
However, director Ayappa KM only heard it around midnight and poor Thacker, who sleeps early (by 10.30 p.m.), had to stay up late. “Once he was okay with it, it was bedtime.”
Like most of us, Thacker also works from home. “I have my own setup at home... a booth, a system, a microphone… A-Z. I can operate from my home booth without having to rush anywhere.”
He does channel voicing (Zee TV, Colors… Big CBS Prime a few years back). Sometimes, channels want you to work at 11.30 p.m., when you return from their office because another promo has turned up. Since you can’t rush back, the home setup comes in handy then.
When the CRED ads came out, Thacker saw them on TV and felt “alright” after seeing the first one (featuring Anil Kapoor). His interest was piqued with the second ad, featuring Madhuri Dixit, but Bappi da blew it away… “I couldn’t stop laughing when Govinda said ‘yeh voice-over wale ka number nikal.’”
Speaking about the campaign’s immense success, he credited Anil Kapoor, Bappi da and Govinda, and heaped praise on the creative team, the directors, and production house for their exceptional work.
Talking about how the campaign has affected him, he told us a funny tale where his friend said to him, “Uttamji, aapki aawaz toh achhi hai, lekin Madhuri Dixit koh woh project nahi mila toh baat samajh mein nahi aayi.”
He told us that in the industry, people know that he does English and Hindi VO… “I’ve never been interviewed for a television commercial voice-over… It’s impacted me in a real positive way.”
“To be honest, I thought they’d have my voice only for the first three commercials… but the very fact that they’ve used my voice for all six commercials, I didn’t expect this… I am flattered,” Thacker signs off.