In March this year, the Department of Telecommunications ordered all major telecom companies to add a 30-second COVID-19 prevention caller tune to their networks. Consequently, telecom players such as BSNL, Reliance Jio, MTNL, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea added the caller tune to their combined network of 117.2 crore users. The virus may become a thing of the past someday, but we may never be able to forget the 'corona caller tune', that short coughing sound, followed by instructions related to information on how to avoid the spread of the virus. The tune that never lets us forget that we're in the middle of a pandemic. The tune that made us switch to WhatsApp calls ('coz aisa laga phone ko hi corona ho gaya hai).
Many tried to find a workaround so that they could avoid hearing the whole thing, but no amounts of pressing 1 sometimes stops the whole message from playing. Now, we know that the government did its best to spread awareness about how the virus transmits. While we can appreciate that, it ended up putting people off so much that they started avoiding phone calls. I, for one, started restricting myself to messages and voice notes.
The caller tune is trending again, four months after becoming a part of our lives. And that's because we now know the voice behind that caller tune. Everyone, meet Jasleen Bhalla, the voiceover artist who recorded the message.
"A lot of recordings that we were doing for some time were in some or the other way related to COVID-19. When I got this, I thought it will be like one of those radio spots or something which will be used for a week or so, I didn’t know it will be used to this extent, pan-India,” Jasleen said in an interview with an online portal. Jasleen had no clue when she was approached by a producer to record the IVR. "The producer just told me that you have to have a responsible tone. I had no clue how big it was," adds Jasleen.
Jasleen got to know about how big her voice had become only after her friends and fam started sharing memes with her about the caller tune. “Initially, within a few days, friends started forwarding memes, telling me ‘We know this is your voice…but ab bus bhi karo yaar’. Funny part is when you are calling someone… you also get to hear that thing. It’s a little out-of-body experience. It's my own voice telling (me) to wash my hands, use sanitizer and wear a mask,” says Jasleen.
Jasleen, a Delhiite, started working as a sports journalist shortly after her graduation and it was in 2010 that she approached studios with her voice samples. "Then it hit me that this audio world was way bigger than I realised. I started going for auditions and working on my skills because doing voice-over professionally is a different ball game altogether. It is pretty much like acting, as it is voice acting," says the 40-year-old voiceover artist.
Talking about how she's been spending her time working from home and doing household chores, she said, "I always respected my house help but my respect for her and the whole astonishment about her stamina, given the amount of work she does, has gone notches up. I can’t just even imagine how much physical labour they put in their work."
Same Jasleen, same! House helps are legit bhagwaan ke avatar, this lockdown has made all of us realise that.
Featured Image: Instagram