Lata showers praise on Voice of India finalists

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

Mumbai : It was an evening the two Amul STAR Voice of India (ASVOI) finalists, Harshit Saxena and Ishmeet Singh, won’t forget in a hurry. Singing legend Lata Mangeshkar invited them to her home and is so impressed with their dedication to music that she has agreed to grace the grand finale of the show on Nov 24.

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On Monday evening, Lata invited the two to her residence in Peddar Road for an informal chat, which lasted for nearly an hour, quite a long duration for the progressively reclusive Nightingale.

“They’re very talented boys, and the reason why I’ve agreed to be on the finals is because of their enthusiasm and dedication,” said the nightingale who has recently released two non-film albums of ghazals and Ganpati bhajans composed by her protégé Mayuresh Pai.

She is steering away from film songs these days. The scarcity of innovation in film music, she feels, can only be bridged by the influx of new talent that has knowledge of classical music.

“It’s always good to encourage new talent. I’ve supported talented composers and singers all my career,” Lata told IANS.

Ishmit and Harshit sang songs by Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi selected by the nightingale.

Ishmit is quite overwhelmed by Lata’s humility.

“We had never imagined Lataji would be so friendly! She made us sit close to her and sing her favourite songs. She served us samosas with her own hands, joked, laughed and made us feel comfortable,” said Ishmit.

“What I couldn’t achieve after 18 years in the music business these two boys have done in no time at all. They sat for more than an hour with India’s most amazing singer and sang for her while she regaled them with childlike enthusiasm and vivacity,” added the show’s producer Gajendra Singh.

Laughed Lata, “We had a gala time. When I got to know that Harshit is a Kishoreda fan and Ishmit Rafi saab’s, I picked my own favourite songs by my male colleagues like ‘Mere naina sawan bhado’, ‘Musafir hoon yaaron’ (Kishore) and ‘Tere mere sapne’ and ‘Man re tu kahe na dheer (Mohd Rafi) for Harshit and Ismeet to sing.

“They did a fine job of it. But the real challenge for these talented singers who emerge from these music contests is to sing original songs, not just be good replicas.”

Lata won’t only be doing what she calls the “heartbreaking job” of choosing one of the two finalists as the winner at the ASVOI finals on Nov 24, she’d also be presenting Ishmit and Harshit with diamond and gold-studded handmade watches.