“Happy Birthday to you! Many girlfriends to youâ€¦” – one of the many wishes that the winner of “Voice of India” Ishmeet Singh would have got from his friends had he been alive for his 20th birthday today. “May your soul rest in peace” – is the wish they have for him now. Ishmeet, who won music reality show “Amul Star Voice of India” in 2007, drowned July 29 in a swimming pool in Maldives where he had gone to perform.Bhangra pop king Daler Mehndi expressed confidence that had Ishmeet stayed on he would have definitely carved a niche for himself in the competitive Bollywood industry.”It was very difficult to overcome the sadness of Ishmeet’s death. At such a young age, he earned so much name and fame. He became a singing sensation. Despite his Punjabi background, he used to sing any song easily without the Punjabi accent,” Mehndi said.
Remembered as a “wonderful”, “down-to-earth” and “sincere” person by the Indian music industry, Ishmeet not only went on to be become a beacon of light for the Sikh community when he won the contest, he was also a source of inspiration for a horde of young and aspiring singers.
The news of his demise brought sorrow not only to his family, but the entire state of Punjab, his native state. The nation also mourned his death.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal even presented a cheque of Rs.1.1 million, a citation and a shawl to Ishmeet’s parents as a mark of honour at a state-level function to mark the country’s 62nd Independence Day.
Badal has announced the opening of an international level music academy in Ludhiana in his memory. Ishmeet’s only attempt at playback singing of forthcoming Punjabi movie “Sat Sri Akal” was released in Chandigarh recently.
Expressing grief that he could not attend the cremation ceremony, Mehndi added: “He was a very down-to-earth and simple person. He died very young. I am sure that had he not passed away so early, he would have built a strong foothold in Bollywood as he had a different voice and a versatile style of singing.”
Ishmeet’s good friend and co-contestant Sumitra Iyer became nostalgic when asked to share her experience with Ishmeet.
She said: “If he had been around, I am sure there would have been a grand celebration at his home because he was not at his home to celebrate his 19th birthday. I try not to think too much about the tragedy. It is traumatic. I always want to remember him for his smiling face.
“I hope his parents get the courage and the strength to overcome the loss of their son. I believe he is still with us and that we should continue to feel his presence in our hearts,” she added.
She said all the contestants of the show had got together and celebrated Ishmeet’s 19th birthday last year.
“Ishmeet used to take time to mix up with people. I remember we were together on his last birthday. After cutting the cake, he was cutting one slice each for both his parents. ‘This one is for my mother’, ‘This for my father’, he said. We had captured it all on camera. He was very excited but used to miss his mother a lot,” Sumitra said.
Toshi Sabri, another contestant on the show, is planning to go to Ludhiana to meet Ishmeet’s parents.
“I wanted things to settle down a bit after his death and then meet them. He was a very nice singer and an equally good person,” Toshi said.
After being crowned the “Voice of India”, Ishmeet also participated in another music reality show “Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar”. However, he was eliminated from the show.
Prajakta Shukre, his co-participant from the contest, found herself at a loss of words on being told it was Ishmeet’s birthday Sep 2.
“I just wish that wherever he is, he should be happy. I hope god gives his family the strength to come to terms with his death. I sincerely hope that Ishmeet comes back to them in some form or the other,” Prajakta said.