Rajvinder Singh and the “Big Bang Theory”: The voice of Dr. Raj – Culture
He is the German voice of the Indian nerd in “Big Bang Theory”: Rajvinder Singh, dubbing artist living in Berlin, sees himself as a mediator of culture and language.
Raj, played by British actor Kunal Nayyar (left), is the bachelor of astrophysics. Rajvinder Singh gives him his German voice. Photo: Warner Bros/Stuttgart – Rajvinder Singh is a distinguished, very humorous gentleman in his early sixtys who chooses his words carefully. He is a writer, married and has lived in Berlin since 1981. But if you close your eyes, Rajvinder Singh turns into someone else in a split second. Suddenly you hear a man in his mid-twenties, shy, intelligent and sometimes easily excited – and anyone who watches television knows this gently mischievous, brightly hoarse voice with the unmistakable R, which lies like a round pebble on the speaker’s tongue. The voice belongs to Dr. Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali, known as Raj for short by his friends. As an astrophysicist from New Delhi, he completes a group of young nerds in the US series “Big Bang Theory”, who have to face hairy everyday questions in addition to complex problems from physics, mathematics and pop culture. Especially the category of women is giving the bachelors a headache.
For more than twelve years, the funny and clever sitcom by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady kept the audience engaged. But with the end of the twelfth season, whose second half Pro 7 broadcasts after the summer break, it’s over. This is a bitter loss not only for the huge community of German fans, but also for Rajvinder Singh, who has given his voice to the art figure Rajesh Koothrappali: “I’ll miss Raj, because he’s the only one in the series who doesn’t come out as a winner. He was so romantic, and he’s the only one who hasn’t found a woman,” he regrets on the fringes of the Indian Film Festival, which runs until Sunday in Stuttgart. But working on “Big Bang Theory” was great fun. “We freelancers live with confidence: What was yesterday was yesterday, today is today and tomorrow something else will come.”
The tailor and his material
Even though dubbing actors never get the appreciation that fans and media give to their famous colleagues in front of the camera, they fulfill an important function. Because Germans are reluctant to use subtitles compared to other nationalities, there is a large market for them in Germany. Singh can also point to a stately role portfolio: He already spoke characters in “Pirates of the Caribbean” and in Martin Scorsese’s “Departed”, in “Spider-Man 2” he lent his voice to Mr. Azis, in “Matrix Reloaded” and “Matrix Revolutions” he interpreted Rama-Kandra. “That was an important role for me,” says Singh. But he doesn’t care much about the film’s reputation, he says. It’s about how interesting the character is – and the part of Rama-Kandra is small but philosophical, Singh says. “It’s not even a five-minute part altogether, but it leaves a mark.” He says he doesn’t need any characters close to him to be the voice actor. What’s important, he says, is that “I have to live up to the character, that’s the challenge. As a cultural mediator, I’m the tailor who receives a fabric and makes a suitable garment.”
In addition to his voice acting, Rajvinder Singh is also active in other ways. In 2005 he founded a German-Indian school partnership and taught creative writing to Stuttgart schoolchildren for several years. For a long time he was also involved in the Writers-in-Prison-Committee of the PEN, an activity that is currently on hold due to Singh’s heavy workload. Nevertheless: the cultural and language education Singh is engaged in cannot be overestimated under the impression of the current shift to the right in Europe.
Racism as an everyday experience
I have lived in Germany for 38 years, I have experienced a lot, including racism. You have to be careful. I am a proven anti-fascist. Peter Schneider, Günther Grass, Volker Ludwig, F. C. Delius, Inge Deutschkron and I founded an initiative in Berlin after the asylum homes in Mölln, Solingen and Rostock burned down. And I was the first non-German town clerk in Germany and was attacked by neo-Nazis in Rheinsberg, Brandenburg,” says Singh, reporting on his experiences as an immigrant in Germany.
Singh reacts calmly to the dispute that arose in the USA over whether the figure of the Indian supermarket owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in the “Simpsons” served racist stereotypes: “We will never learn anything for life from cinema or television. And anyway, racist programming in the US is different.