Interviews

A Voice Well Loved

Shahudha during the cover shoot for Maldeeb -- Maldeeb Photo/Hussain Saeed
Shahudha during the cover shoot for Maldeeb -- Maldeeb Photo/Hussain Saeed

When it comes to entertainment, people tend to go towards what attracts their eyes. Models in skimpy clothes and risqué movies are all that rules the industry today. Even so, there are some entertainers who have never had to do any of these things to attract an audience, to build up a fan base for themselves. Though some say the industry is pretty much dead, in reality it’s far from that. In the world of electronic media, one only needs a voice to charm an audience over the radio, And Shahudha Mahmood is known for her voice across the nation.

To know more about this well-loved voice, Maldeeb sat down with Shahudha to talk about her experience as an RJ. Here’s what she said about her inspirations.

How did you become an RJ initially?

Well, I was really shy at first. I didn’t even talk much when I was in school, but then I got an offer from Capital Radio through a friend to work for them. They made me do a recording of a live show and after hearing it they wanted me to work for them and that’s how it all started. Once I started, I got interested and the support from the audience really drew me into it, and that’s how I became so confident in doing this.

What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by RJs in the Maldives today? Especially those who are new?

Restrictions. Most of the RJs who are now brand names have the freedom to do just about anything on their shows. However, the newcomers are not given that freedom. Maybe it’s because you need to build up a character, but the limitations can be trying. If you know what I mean. I guess that’s the biggest challenge. Besides that, facing established RJs and building audience trust is also a pretty big thing that newcomers face.

What would you say, has been your greatest work so far?

I have produced four dramas, but I think my best so far is “Ihusaas”. I have made a lot of different people do things that they have not done in the drama, like making the actors sing and people who had never voice acted before do it, in addition to creating and singing songs myself. Making method acting happen and bringing the feelings associated with the script is one of the reasons why it’s become so great.

What’s that one thing that makes you wake up every morning and come back to work? Your motivation?

To be honest, my co-workers and work. When I was unemployed, I always told myself that if I get a job I would never be careless so I guess that is it.

Why do you think your work is distinct from other RJs?

Drama. That’s my strongpoint. I’ve got lots of feedback from well-known people and many of them say that the tactics I use to make the voice actors method act is perhaps one of the best. Some say I could be hard to work with due to that, but they need to understand that I will keep taking re-takes until I am satisfied. Being a perfectionist as they call, could never be easy.

What is that one thing you have wanted to do for a long time, but haven’t been able to?

Facing the camera. It’s something I’ve wanted to do, but never been able to do because I have that fear of facing others. But I really want to do it and I hope one day I’d overcome that fear. I know I will always try to.

What are your future plans?

I really want to be a brand name as a RJ. I want people to call me and ask me for interviews, instead of me calling them. I want them to be excited about being able to go on my show. I want people to recognize me on the streets and say “there goes Shahu!”, and the person my mother wants me to be. A well-known and well respected woman in our society, a woman who could take charge of her own family.

Shahudha hosting her "Entertainment Zone" program on Dhivehi FM -- Maldeeb Photo/Hussain Saeed
Shahudha hosting her “Entertainment Zone” program on Dhivehi FM — Maldeeb Photo/Hussain Saeed

What makes you a different RJ from others? Like, why should others listen to you?

I am me. Like, I would be normal when I go on my shows, I don’t sugar coat things or act too sweet towards someone. I don’t really fake it, I talk to people because I want to and I like it. And I am trying to make a difference in the industry, because my shows have unique concepts. Like “Entertainment Zone”, we don’t just bring in guests and talk. But we actually engage with the audience and the guest – and I guess that’s why they should listen to me.

Apart from being an RJ, what else do you do?

Write. I write the scripts of my dramas myself, it just comes naturally. Once I start writing, it comes down how the story should progress. It’s not something I give much thinking to, and usually I love writing horror stuff. Perhaps because I watch and read a lot of horror related stuff. My cousin actually inspired me to write, I usually make up stories for my cousins and they pushed me to write my first drama script. I also voice act. I didn’t really think I could do that even, the first time I couldn’t meet my own expectations either. But my in-charge back then asked me to listen to some dramas and then I started becoming better. I used to re-do my own scenes, but today I can voice-act in one go.

What’s the most interesting part of it all?

Meeting new people. Like you meet different new people. Young people who tell us what they really want to hear. Sometimes they inspire me to create such shows even.

When you write a drama, what do you work to bring for the audience? What can they expect when they hear about a new drama by you?

Detail to descriptions. Some people say that when they listen to it, they feel like they’re literally there because of the attention given to even the smallest details. I give out small descriptions from the brand of watch to the color of shirt my characters are wearing.

What would you like to say to those who want to come out to the field?

Don’t be shy, give it a try. Even I was shy at first, but when I gave it a try I knew I could do it and that’s how I got my confidence. Don’t think of what people are going to say, give it a try and then you will know. Earn it yourself, without waiting for a title to be handed down to you. At the end of the day, you will know that you tried.

Who would you like to thank in this opportunity?

Nishy, the friend who really pushed me to go to the interview. And my first boss and then CEO of Capital Radio Ismail Abdulla for the confidence and support he gave. All my cousins as well, Shafagath and Shammath for their support. And of course, my mother for trusting me and being there for me all the time, including my family. My best friend, Fazna – we fight a lot, but she would always put me first and that’s something I really appreciate. Aai and Faru for sticking with me throughout all my ups and downs. Last but not the least, everyone in Public Service Media for the welcome they have given me.

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