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Indonesian performers share experiences as voice actors of Disney’s ‘Mulan’

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, November 28, 2020  /  11:05 am
Indonesian performers share experiences as voice actors of Disney’s ‘Mulan’

Indonesian actors Dion Wiyoko (left), Yuki Kato (center) and Luna Maya attend a virtual press conference for Disney's live-action 'Mulan' on Nov. 19. (Disney+ Hotstar/File)

Indonesian actors Yuki Kato, Dion Wiyoko and Luna Maya have shared their experiences in lending their voices for the Indonesian-dubbed version of Disney’s live-action Mulan.

Yuki, who provided the voice of Mulan, said that her debut in dubbing began with an animated film in 2016. “But this time it was for a live-action with existing actors, dialogue and emotion. I had to portray [the character] in Indonesian. I found this film more challenging compared to the animated film in terms of determining the emotion,” Yuki told The Jakarta Post in a press conference on Nov. 19.

The Malang-born actor unveiled that she was nervous prior to recording. She prepared by watching the animated version of Mulan (1998) beforehand.

“I was afraid that I would lose my voice, so I always brought peeled kencur [galangal] in a jar for my throat. The taste was a bit spicy and funny, but I thought, ‘I had to consume this to make my voice like Mulan's’. It helped in boosting my confidence,” Yuki said.

Yuki added that she also motivated herself by saying, “I’m Mulan. I can do this. Mulan is brave, so let’s do this.”

Unlike Yuki, Luna and Dion’s experience with Mulan marked their first time as voice actors. Both portray characters that do not exist in the 1998 film – Luna voices Xianniang the Witch (played by Gong Li), while Dion voices Honghui (played by Yoson An), a fellow soldier and Mulan’s love interest.

Luna said that she scrutinized Xianniang’s entire part in the film to understand the character. “Afterward, I could gather what her character is like, how she tends to speak and the flow of her emotion. I followed how Gong Li played Xianniang and I tried to imitate her as if it was a re-shoot,” said Luna.

Luna, who will be one of the judges in modeling competition Indonesia’s Next Top Model, said that she did not view Xianniang as a villain. “She is cold, but she has her reasons,” she said.

As for Dion, he watched Honghui’s clips multiple times to comprehend the character, starting from his intonation to how close he is to Mulan.

“I’m slightly detached from the animated film and I was mentored by a professional voice actor during the process, so I tried to be as similar [to the character as possible],” Dion said, adding that he also underwent breathing exercises throughout the process.

During the recording, Yuki, Dion and Luna said they all came across the challenge of matching the voice recording with the animation.

“The English language generally has shorter syllables than Indonesian, and the words become longer after they are translated. I had to speak in a flat facial expression as if I’m cruel and cold, but at the same time it has to match the character’s way of speaking,” Luna said.

Aside from featuring Indonesian voice actors, the Indonesian-dubbed edition of Mulan also features four Indonesian performers as singers for the film’s iconic song, “Reflection”. Yura Yunita, SIVIA, Agatha Pricilla and Nadin Amizah performed the track in English.

Disney premiered the animated version of Mulan in 1998, centering on a brave, young woman who becomes one of the greatest warriors in China. The live-action adaptation was released in September on Disney+, featuring Liu Yifei as Hua Mulan, Donnie Yen as Commander Tung and Jet Li as the Emperor of China. The film will be available in Indonesia on Disney+ Hotstar starting Dec. 4.

Subscriptions to Disney+ Hotstar start from Rp 39,000 (US$2.77) per month or Rp 199,000 per year. (wng)