An hitherto unknown Sara Raza Khan of Pakistan was in the limelight recently for her participation in the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009, where she lost but impressed all, writes KK Moidu
Teenager Sara from the city of gardens, Lahore, Pakistan, is the first Muslim girl to take the big leap by competing in a musical reality contest like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009, in spite of stiff opposition from people of her community.
Although, Sara from the ‘Heart of Pakistan’ didn't win the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009 trophy, her mind-blowing and soulful performance will surely take her a long way. Her great voice and expression not only placed her among the top eight contestants in the prestigious contest, but she also won plaudits from all corners. Sara was eliminated in Episode 37, on Nov. 7.
Eesha Koppikar and Sonu Sood were also present on the occasion to promote their film Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi and the stage was decorated like a marriage hall. Himesh and Shankar represented the “bride's side” and Aadesh and Pritam were on the “bridegroom’s side.”
Sara rendered to perfection the popular film song Bole Chudiyaan, in her sweet voice, and everybody showered praises on her. Her singing improved a lot in the course of the competition, but she still became a victim of public voting. Her melancholic and innocent voice and modest attire made her stand out among the participants.
Sara, who hails from Pakistan’s cultural centre sang like a professional. The judges were impressed with her unique voice and expressions but also pointed out the wrong pitching.
After her elimination on the basis of SMS voting, Sara said a big thank you to the audience for their support and appreciation.
‘Pak Ki Mallika’ Sara is the daughter of late Qadeer Ahmed Khan and Kulsoom Jehan Qadeer. Her father was an engineer and her mother is an Urdu teacher. She has two elder brothers, Ahmed Raza Khan and Hassan Raza Khan and a younger brother, Mujtaba Raza Khan, a class I student. Her elder sister Ayesha Raza Khan is a singer and television anchor and the family’s financial support since her father died three years ago.
Sara was overjoyed when she was selected for the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa 2009 competition, but her mother and relatives were hesitant to send the teenage girl to a culturally liberal country like India to participate in the contest. Their main objection was to the kind of image one is expected to acquire, to gain mileage in the entertainment industry, like revealing costumes. This, they said, went against their culture and religion.
However, Sara's mother finally agreed to send her daughter for the competition after an assurance from the channel that they would not make her wear clothes that were revealing. Her relatives, however, were not happy about her participation in the contest. They feared that a music competition held in a country like India where boys and girls intermingled openly and rehearsed together would give her opportunities to befriend male participants. Another major hurdle was that the girl would have to sing Hindu devotional songs during the competition.
Then there was the possibility of her being treated as an outcast by other participants. Sara’s relatives also objected to the fact that she and her mother were living in a big city like Mumbai, without the presence of a male relative.
However, Sara overcame these hurdles. She talks about her dream to become a legendary playback singer. Here are some excerpts:
Who was the first to recognise your musical talent?
My lovely mother recognised my musical talent and motivated me. My best music teacher Sir Abdul Rauf, encouraged and supported me by training me in classical music.
What is your background in music?
I have no musical background, I am the first girl in my whole family to learn classical music. I want to be successful with my God-gifted talent.
I started learning classical singing just two years ago from Sir Abdul Rauf, a teacher at the prestigious Al Hamra Arts Council, Lahore. After a month's training from a sincere teacher like Sir Abdul Rauf, I got a chance to perform in front of General Pervez Musharaf, former president of Pakistan. He appreciated me a lot and also invited me to his birthday at the President House. After that people started recognising me, I got many opportunities for anchoring, singing and also performed in many live shows on different TV channels.
Tell us about your selection to Sa Re Ga Ma Pa?
Legendary singer Ghulam Ali Sir selected me for the audition of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa from Lahore as the only and first girl from Pakistan (Pakistan Ki Beti which now known as Pak Ki Mallika).
What were your relatives’ and neighbours’ reactions to your participation in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge?
Well! Reactions of my relatives were a mixture of positive and negative comments. But the majority were extremely happy and excited for Pakistan Ki Beti, and now in Pakistan, people are excited and warmly welcoming me. And one more thing, my country is also very happy that it appreciated me and motivated me a lot.
What was your experience in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa like?
It was really awesome, superb, outstanding, mind-blowing history. Ya, it was! Because I just dreamed to be in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and when it really happened, I thank the Almighty and the audience for their prayers.
Tell us about the judges and audience?
All the judges of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa 2009 are very sincere, talented and motivating persons. They all are very successful in their fields and I want to work with them.
Audience! wow! I think that it's really very astonishing for me that the audience from all around the world loved me, appreciated me and blessed with their votes and prayers. I was very attached to my viewers and I am taking a lot of beautiful memories back with me! The way the audience chanted my name, took my autographs, also wrote plenty of mails to me and all these memories always make me emotional. I pray to God that all the viewers always love me and remember me! I am sure that today all India Loves Me!
What do you plan to do now?
My future plans are to learn more classical music, be a great playback and live show singer, to earn a lot of respect and be one of Allah's favourites.
What is your biggest dream?
My biggest dream is to be a great singer and earn money and fame to make my elder sister the happiest woman in the world. I also want to help those strong women, who are divorced and are alone with their little babies at a young age.
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009
The musical reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009 airing on Zee TV every Saturday at 8.30pm has reached a very crucial stage. The final contenders are competing with each other for the coveted title of Challenge 2009 at a global level. The musical war with unmatched talent and quality was launched on July 8, with 32 contestants, selected from five regions and 25 countries like India, Pakistan, Australia and Middle East.
Popular host Aditya Narayan lends his own voice to the show with his personal style of putting the participants at ease and gently providing them with the required encouragement, making him special. Another attraction of the show is the participation of celebrity guests like Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ajay Devgan etc.
The programme is not only a musical reality show but also a contest between four musical maestros; Adesh Srivastava representing Jai Gharana, Dhoom Gharana's Pritam Chakraborty, Shankar Mahadevan's Lakshya Gharana and Himesh Reshammiya retains membership of the Rock Gharana.
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge recently changed its format in its 13-year history. In the new format all participants from each Gharana will perform and the disqualified participants are eliminated. The decision was taken after a heated argument between the judges. Finally, it was decided that it would not favour the selection of the best participant among some exceptional singers. But this sort of arrangement is appropriate from the SMS point of view because the listeners may forget some good singers and the current weak singers will be on top of their minds. According to the new format, all the participants get an opportunity to sing in two episodes and one of them is eliminated every week.
Although the programme is 14 years old with Himesh Reshamiya, Shankar Mahadevan, Adesh Srivastava and Pritam as the mentors, the same format was running for the past 13 years. The talent hunt Sa Re Ga Ma Pa has contributed some names to reckon with in the music world like Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Kunal Ganjawala, Shreya Ghosal etc.