| (Top) Sanchita and Shah Rukh
1996: Shreya Ghoshal
2006: Sanchita Bhattacharya
Fourteen-year-old Sanchita, a student of Shibpur Chatterjee Haat High School, was crowned by Shah Rukh Khan as the Li’ Champ of Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.
Ten years ago, at the same Andheri sports complex, Shreya had won the trophy before going on to become one of the top playback singers in the country. Earlier in the year, another Bengali, Debojit Saha, had won the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005.
Sanchita edged out the two other finalists, Mumbai boy Sameer Mohammad and Delhi’s Diwakar Sharma. More than 1 crore 32 lakh votes came in, with Sanchita clinching the trophy with more than 45 lakh 23 thousand votes.
It was absolute jubilation for the Bhattacharya family — Sanchita’s parents are singers in their own right. “She has been training for the last 10 years and winning the Li’ Champs crown is her first step towards fulfilling her dream,” father Dhruba Bhattacharya told The Telegraph moments after his daughter was crowned.
“I just want to be a playback singer,” shouted Sanchita from behind. Besides the trophy, the Howrah girl has bagged a scholarship worth Rs 15 lakh from Kidzee and a chance to cut her own private album.
Shah Rukh was very impressed with Sanchita’s singing and labelled her “the future of India”.
When Sanchita’s father showed the Don his gratitude in broken Hindi, King Khan said with his inimitable charm: “All I can tell you in Bengali is ami tomake bhalobashi.”
“Bangalir joy” said show judge Bappi Lahiri. “Right from Sachin Dev Burman to Shreya Ghoshal, Bengal has always been India’s musical voice. There must be something in the Calcutta water. The best thing about Sanchita is her versatility, she can sing anything from a bhajan to an item number.”
With reality talent shows being heavily criticised for encouraging the wrong kind of talent, Sanchita’s victory came as a fitting reply.
“I am very happy that the people of India have chosen Sanchita as the ultimate winner. Bengalis have always won in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa — our show wouldn’t have been possible without them,” said Sa Re Ga Ma Pa director Gajendra Singh.
It will be some time before Sanchita can return to her house in Shibpur because, as host singer Shaan said, “she is now India’s daughter”.