Imagine superstar Amitabh Bachchan waking everyone up on Alexa with his signature ‘Parampara. Pratishtan. Anushashan’ line from the 2000 film Mohabbatein every time you miss an alarm in the morning or try to snooze. And can the technology heads at Amazon really resist making the Bollywood star say ‘shubh ratri’ to us in his signature Kaun Banega Crorepati style?
Or will his Alexa voice turn everybody into an ‘angry young man’ all over again? Maybe Amitabh Bachchan will start serialising your daily instructions too, like he does with his tweets. But it will be quite a treat to get your tiny household chores carried out by the most powerful man in Bollywood.
In 2021, Amitabh Bachchan, our very own Big B will become the first Indian celebrity to lend his voice to Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant. With this, the superstar joins Hollywood actor Samuel L Jackson who lent his voice to Alexa last year.
Amitabh Bachchan will officially enter our everyday lives, and help us switch off our lights, fans and even play music in his signature baritone voice. If he doesn’t scare the children away, that is.
So, do we finally have a news in 2020 that we can be excited about?
What fans have to say
As the news about Amitabh Bachchan lending his voice to Alexa broke, Twitterati did not disappoint, with memes pouring in from all corners, anticipating what the experience is going to be like.
So Amitabh Bachchan is going to be Alexa's new voice.
Alexa when the internet is down: pic.twitter.com/2FPgSRDu3m
— Ankit Gupta (@ankiittttt) September 14, 2020
Now, that Amitabh Bachchan is going to be the voice of Alexa in India –
Me: Alexa, call dad.
Alexa ft. Amitabh: Rishtein mein to hum tumhare baap lagte hai, naam hai shehenshah
— Arundhati Chatterjee (@Arundhati1312) September 15, 2020
— #NG (@NG_exhales) September 14, 2020
When you snooze your alarm and ending up getting late for the office
— Surabhi Mittal (@surabhihihihi) September 14, 2020
And while you may consider yourself a big fan of the actor, Amazon already has one who is probably the happiest with its decision to rope in the megastar. Amit Agarwal, Amazon’s India head and former executive assistant to Jeff Bezos, is a big fan of the senior Bachchan.
Agarwal fluently spouts lines from Bachchan’s movies and to this day, sports the actor’s hair style from decades ago. He he took to Twitter immediately to share the news on 14 September.
Alexa will have first ever celebrity voice experience in India. Hint: “Rishte mein toh hum tumhare baap lagte hai, naam hai _”
Any guesses? pic.twitter.com/bJonYB1Kli
— Amit Agarwal (@AmitAgarwal) September 14, 2020
Perhaps we now know who might have ‘influenced’ the decision of getting the superstar on board.
The ‘immortal voices’
While it would be fun seeing Bachchan attending to our calls and do our chores, he won’t be the first person we would see communicating with us through technological interventions.
For commuters of the Delhi Metro, two iconic voices are now immortalised thanks to technology — voices of Shammi Narang and Rini Simon Khanna. Before you start wondering who they are, the duo are the ‘real’ people behind the DMRC announcements that tell you to ‘please mind the gap’ when ‘doors will open on the right/left’, in Hindi and English, respectively. You may not abide by their instructions when they ask you to not sit on the floors of the train or to not lean by the door but you know, deep inside, that you are listening to them speak, repeating after them in your head.
Then there’s Siri, Apple’s voice-activated virtual assistant, which was introduced to the masses with the iPhone 4S on 4 October 2011. Susan Bennett, a resident of Atlanta, revealed that she is the voice behind the go-to person for directions and tips sought by many iPhone and Mac users.
Alexa ft. Amitabh Bachchan
To speak to 77-year-old Big B, users will have to say “Alexa, Say Hello to Mr. Amitabh Bachchan” on Alexa-enabled devices. The Amazon blog says that the unique experience will include jokes, weather updates, shayaris, motivational quotes, advice, among others. I will wager a bet that he would quote his father, Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poetry for sure. Maybe cocktail evenings will end with Alexa’s Madhushala.
Or when you make an impossible demand out of the device, isn’t there a chance that Bachchan could say, ‘Meri taraf mat dekhiye, main aapki koi sahayta nahi kar paunga’ (Don’t look at me. I won’t be able to help you at all)? Or if it gets an instruction wrong, he may still defend it, saying ‘Hum jahan khade hote hain, line wahin se shuru hoti hai’. Or maybe he can make Alexa give you some instruction too – ‘Jab tak baithne ko nahi kaha jaye, tab-tak sharafat se khade raho’.
As long as he doesn’t make Alexa spout superstitious mumbo-jumbos about auspicious numbers and advocate to your family elders on so-called mangliks marrying a tree.
Since this would be an exclusive offering in India, the experience would be deeply sentimental in a way. And if we go by the concept of voice technologies unlocking new ways to serve the need for meaningful relationships, this would literally be forging a relationship with the Bollywood star so many people look up to.
After all, wouldn’t you want some robust advice when you have had your heart broken for the nth time, and want a ‘voice of reason’ helping you see why it was all for the best? Or a bit of romantic rebellion from the dialogues of Silsila. Or a joke that calms your nerves before that presentation at the office, and offers the one-line pep talk of ‘rishte mein hum tumhare baap lagte hain’ before you confront somebody who has been not-so-nice to you?
Frankly, I am pretty psyched by this piece of news, and really looking forward to 2021, when I will have ‘conversations’ with Big B.
Views are personal.
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