There are at least 24 stations in the Central Line of the Mumbai Suburban Railway which is extended from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Kalyan Junction. Thousands of people travel through this route and it’s one of the busiest places in Mumbai. People who travel here must listen to one woman’s voice every day that unfailingly let them know the arrivals and departures.
It’s the voice of 50-year-old Sarla Chaudhary. The voice sends tingles down our spines and people here have been hearing it for 20 years. Her venture all started when she attended the test for the post of “announcer” in Central Railway in 1982. She was selected from hundreds of candidates. Four years later, in 1986 she was made permanent and her voice resonated in all the stations across Mumbai through the loudspeakers.
“I was working as an announcer at one particular station and would announce manually. There was no computerized system at that time and we had to announce at each railway station,” she recalls.
In the year 1991, Chaudhary played an important role to record announcements in All India Radio. “I had to record the announcements in Marathi in different ways for different situations and it took over three to four days to finalize it. Later, the voice was mixed with a computer and was centralized.”
The announcements, which were in Marathi, were later mixed into a computer and centralized, thus being able to generate on their own. Sarla left that position in 2000 and now works as an office superintendent in the OHE department at Kalyan. “I feel very happy when I hear my voice at railway stations and hear passengers appreciating it even when they don’t know me,” said Chaudhary.
VA Malegaonkar, Chief PRO, CR, said, “We are proud that we have such women working with CR. She was selected for her soft voice and we are using her voice for over 20 years.” Even today, when all the announcements are made by Train Management System (TMS), the most-liked pre-recorded voice of Sarla has been saved in standby mode at control rooms.