…votes for the Voice of India?

I have been watching Amul Star Voice of India almost all recent weekends, and I've come to love and admire Toshi, to respect Harshit, and to enjoy Abhas. The judges have spoken my own conviction that these three belong to the top, and audiences have been consistently stunned by their performance.

Lately, there has been a comic shift in focus among the performers. The frequently faltering Abhilasha asked for votes one Saturday saying she is the daughter of Pune and righted herself following Sunday and declared she is the daughter of Hindusthan. Arshpreet unabashedly asked in Punjabi for Punjabi votes, and Ishmeet is beseeching the same but in Hindi. Irfan is a so-thin kid, whose song and dance are competent, whose gig is comic, and whom the judges love; he has begun to make political statements: two weeks ago, he said, I am not South Indian, I belong to all Hindusthan; yesterday he said he’d feared a poor performance because he is troubled by last week’s bombings in Hyderabad. Priyani is blessed with a delightful voice, and a lovely face which compounds the effect of her song, so she has comfortably polled the highest votes.

A difficult situation in which to pick a Voice of India, and a strange circumstance where young artistes dabble in politics of language and region to win a singing contest and where the nation votes on such issues and on appearances. Yesterday Toshi lost, crashing below clearly inferior competitors, having won the least sms-votes. Even my untrained ear has recognized what every learned critic has been saying, that his voice is divine, that his delivery is faultless, that he has the versatility of a master, that no evil-eye must fall on him. He stood stunned when they announced his fate, held himself together, but the young man from Jaipur knew that he didn’t deserve to be thrown out so early, so he wept, and then he wept again with his chin on his brother’s shoulder, and I must admit a tear rolled down my eye, and there in the audience all were drying their eyes and the ladies were flicking tear-drops with the nails of their little-fingers.

Toshi will not go away because those who matter in Bollywood have seen and heard him, so a life of continued fame and professional success awaits him. But the man is young, and he is Muslim, and one fears the worst while assigning reasons for what happened yesterday, so I hope and pray that this gifted man will bear no bitterness for his nation.

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