Meet Shijina, magical voice behind announcements at Kerala railway stations

The voice in railway announcements — in English, Hindi and Malayalam — is that of Shijina Arun, a  music teacher, reports  A Satish

Published: 27th February 2022 06:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th February 2022 01:41 PM   |  A+A-

Shijina Arun

Shijina Arun

Express News Service

PALAKKAD: Imagine you are the railway announcer. And how would you feel when a co-passenger seated beside you curses the announcer for saying that a particular train will arrive late? The accompanying apology may not help prevent the frustrated passengers from venting their anger in choice words. Shijina Arun, a music teacher with the Lady Sankaran Nair (LSN) Girls HSS in Ottappalam, experiences precisely that. For hers is the familiar voice behind the announcements at railway stations that begin with ‘for the kind attention of passengers...’ 

She does the corresponding Hindi and Malayalam, and other south Indian, versions too. What’s more, she gets to hear her pre-recorded voice -- almost daily -- while travelling for work. Passengers are most angry when they are asked to move to another platform at the last minute with their baggage. But the announcements, she knows, are an integral part of daily commuting, and beneficial to passengers. That realisation more than makes up for the negative remarks.

More recently, Shijina herself recorded the train announcements in English and Hindi for the Mohanlal starrer ‘Aarattu’ as the location was outside the state. She stepped into the world of announcement while studying at the government college in Chittur, as one of her teachers asked her to narrate the introduction to his CD. 

“That was the first time I went to a dubbing studio, in Palakkad. Later they asked me if I was interested in doing ads. I replied in the affirmative as I wished to become a newsreader,” Shijina says. Over four years ago, the sound engineer of the studio asked if she could do the announcement for the Southern Railway. “The voice selection test was conducted in Hyderabad, and mine was selected, in 2017,” she says.

Recalling a journey from Shoranur while teaching at the St Teresa’s School, she says, “A group of college students were sitting beside me and our train had been left waiting for the New Delhi Express to pass. Then came the announcement ‘yathrakaarkku shubha yathra nerunnu’. The students, frustrated after waiting for a long time, said: ‘stop this shubha yathra, we are fed up of hearing this message’. Fortunately for me, they believed the announcer was a Railways employee!” 

On the variation in sounds, she points out that different words, names and numbers are recorded separately. “While saying ‘Alappuzha vazhi’, the two words would have been recorded on different days. Similarly, numbers from 1 to 100 in English, Malayalam and Hindi are pre-recorded, each a separate file. It is then cut and inserted wherever needed. Therefore, when heard at railway stations, the pitch of the two words varies. It sounds a bit incongruous.”

Now 42, she has also dubbed in Kannada and Telugu for the Railways, after taking lessons in pronunciation from one of her friends, Sajitha, who resides in Andhra Pradesh. Belonging to Vadakara in Kozhikode, Shijina came to Palakkad after marrying M A Arun Kumar, a teacher at the MNKM HSS in Chittalanchery. 


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