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Dubai talent contest winner lands Bollywood recording deal

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A school bus attendant has been offered the chance to sing for a studio that records Bollywood songs, and a truck loader has danced his way to a cash prize that will help rebuild his home destroyed in the Nepal earthquake – two dreams that have come to life for winners of a talent competition in Dubai.

India’s Bijimol Chalamma and Aasman Tamang, from Nepal, took the titles at the finals of the Smart Idol competition on Friday night.

The annual talent contest, organised by Dubai-based NGO Smart Life, gives workers a chance to showcase their singing and dancing skills.

Both walked away with Dhs5,000 each, and an opportunity to join the Smart Band, through which they can earn money for a year through performances.

But for Chalamma – who won in the singing category after her soulful performance of ‘Aashiqui 2’ hit ‘Sun Raha Hai na Tu’ – the chance to share her voice on stage is the biggest reward of all.

The 39-year-old bus attendant from GEMS World Academy told : “This isn’t about a prize to me. It was my dream to sing on a stage just once in my life. But I never thought it was possible. Now, my dream has come true.”

However, Chalamma is still unable to fathom the idea of singing for Dubai-based recording studio Playback Lounge.

“I don’t know what that means,” she said, adding: “I will do whatever God wishes for me.”

The mum of two boys, who earns Dhs1,600 per month, plans to put her winnings towards her sons’ education back home in India.

Tamang also has big plans for his winnings as the 25-year-old’s parents, wife and five-year-old son are sleeping on the streets after their house in the badly-hit Nuwakot district was flattened by the 7.9-magnitude quake on April 25.

The Landmark Group warehouse labourer practised his moves everyday after hours of loading and unloading boxes in the sun so he could win the money to help them.

He told : “Honestly, I don’t even know how I managed to perform. I was so tired from work and so stressed because of the situation at home. I guess all my emotions came out in my dance.”

Tamang said the Dhs5,000 is a huge helping hand for his family because his Dhs1,050 salary only allows him to save Dhs600 to send back each month.

Meanwhile, a tearful Kopila Ghimire Korki walked away heartbroken but proud. Though she was counting on the cash to rebuild her family’s home, also crushed in the quake, she insisted she is grateful for the opportunity to get on stage.

She told : “It’s OK, everyone couldn’t get the prize, but I am so happy for the winners. We are all winners here. I still do feel like I’ve won just by singing on that stage, though I am very sad I have lost the chance to help my family with that money.”

But Kalyan Chakravarthy, the creative director of Smart Life, is hopeful he can support participants who didn’t win the title.

He told : “I wish we had the resources to do more and give them all something, because the money wasn’t just a prize for them.

“For the six Nepalese contestants, it’s a way for them to restore their homes and for the others, a way to ease a crisis in their lives – like one of the finalist’s mums, who is in hospital in critical condition.

“This was a chance for them to change their future and we’re looking for anyone who’d like to come forward and make it possible.”


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