It was a usual public service announcement, 32-year old Darrell Jessica Fernandes thought when she was summoned to a recording studio in Delhi, early March this year. Little did this Mangalorean know that her calm & convincing Covid-19 voice campaign would be prefixed as a dialer tone and heard by crores of Kannadigas.
In the last couple of months, amidst lockdown, social isolation and conference calls; it’s unlikely that being in Karnataka, you may have missed the audio of Darrell Jessica Fernandes. Her 28-seconds crisp and fluent Kannada audio instruction on COVID-19, is a constant reminder to take precautions against the spread of the Pandemic.
An M.P.Ed (Master of Physical Education) from Mangalore University, Darrell for over seven-years has been a Physical Education (PE) teacher at Delhi Kannada secondary school.
Although not a voice artiste, Darrell said she has formerly lent her voice for government radio programmes like MGNREGA, Pradhan Mantri Awaz Yojana, and also to private TV commercial advertisements like Groffers, Maestro vehicles. “The President of Delhi Kannada School, Saravu Krishna, who is also a voice artist – has guided me on several occasions in the matters of translation, pronunciation and encouraged me to participate,” Darrell said.
While at present there are two-versions of COVID-19 audio messages doing rounds, Darrell says she has voiced the version whose audio sequence begins with a cough. “Another version is voiced by Ms. Vidya Narayana Bhat, who also hails from Dakshina Kannada,” she said.
For long, Darrell was reluctant to reveal her identity for the COVID-19 recording. But post COVID-19 lockdown, while back at her home in Padil ( Mangaluru) on a break, it was her mother who while dialing the number heard Darrell’s voice and instantly identified that it was the voice of her daughter.”Of course it was overwhelming for my mother and a compliment for me also. I am happy that I was able to help in someway; my parents, family and all whom I know have equally appreciated my effort,” she said.
But at the same time, Darrell said that she is equally aware of the trolls being made out of her COVID-19 audio byte. “I think it’s understandable that few people may be bothered to hear the repeated message or maybe they are in a hurry to connect with someone in urgency,” she said. But sporty enough, Darrell said that she does not dwell on negative comments or trolls and forgets it swiftly.