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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

21-year-old Bathinda shoeshiner is a singing sensation in Indian Idol

cities Updated: Oct 16, 2019 01:10 IST
Sachin Kumar
Sachin Kumar
Hindustan Times, Bathinda

Sunny never had any formal training in music. Yet, the 21-year-old self-taught singer, who works as a shoeshiner outside the inter-state bus terminus (ISBT) in Bathinda, has emerged as a new sensation after his performance in popular TV show Indian Idol. His rendition of legendary singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s song “Afreen, afreen” has gone viral on social media.

Sunny’s family lives in a two-room house with a makeshift kitchen at Amarpura Basti, a rather dingy locality of the city. Sunny’s mother Soma Devi, who sells balloons in streets and collects rice as alms to make both ends meet, said he was inclined towards music and singing from childhood and she and her husband never discouraged him. “But our relatives and others used to mock at us,” she said.

“Recognising Sunny’s interest in the music, his father had even gifted him a harmonium,” she said, showing the instrument along with a torn off pair of tablas.

“He himself applied for Indian Idol audition in Chandigarh. I am happy that his talent is being recognised. After the death of Sunny’s father we had a debt of around ₹2.50 lakh. We had to sell old house and bought land here and somehow managed to construct two rooms. The power connection was disconnected after we could not deposit the electricity bill,” she lamented.

Talking to HT over phone from Mumbai, Sunny said he was fond of music right from childhood and would sing at religious events. “Our family used to go to a religious place in Sangria in Rajasthan where qawwalis were sung by artists. I liked qawwalis of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. When I was 11 years old, I was singing in a street and some people recognised my talent and made me sing on the stage,” he said.

“My father Nanak Ram was also a singer and used to sing in fairs besides polishing shoes outside the bus stand. After his death in 2014, I took up the boot polishing work to feed the family. I had to drop out of school after Class 6. But I continued to practise music at home,” he added.

“Impressed with my performance in the first round, the judges gave me ‘Golden Mic’ and now I will participate directly in the ‘Theatre Round’. Right now, my entire focus is on singing better. I will think about future plans after this,” he said.