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Power shock kills singer

- Tragedy after song that wondered ‘are you fine?’
Raghu Kumar

Chennai, Aug. 10: A young singer aspiring to a playback career died of electric shock on a rain-drenched stage moments after he had belted out a popular Tamil number that asked “are you fine?”

Raghu Kumar, 30, wasn’t wearing footwear, which could have absorbed the shocks from a faulty wire in the microphone and possibly saved his life, as he was performing at a temple festival in Aalandur, near Chennai, on Friday evening.

Raghu had just wrapped up the popular number from Mr. Bharath — a 1986 hit featuring Rajinikanth and dubbed a remake of the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Trishul eight years before — and sought to adjust the microphone when he started shaking violently and fell down.

It took a few seconds for fellow musicians to realise something was amiss. One of them saw a wire entangled on the microphone stand and prevented the others from touching Raghu to prevent them from suffering the shock too.

Power supply was switched off and efforts were made to revive Raghu. When he didn’t respond, he was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.

“It had rained heavily before the programme commenced at 9pm. Apparently, one of the wires for lighting entangled with the base of the microphone had a leak. Since it was a temple festival, the performers were not wearing any footwear. If he had his sandals on, Raghu would have felt only the shock and would not be electrocuted the way he was,” said Ram. Raghu was part of Ram’s troupe, called Ram Rhythms.

A case of accidental death has been registered and police plan to charge the temple management with holding the concert without appropriate permission and safety measures.

It is common for temples in Tamil Nadu to organise such soirees during Aadi — the Tamil month from mid-July to mid-August — when not just devotional songs but film chart-busters too are sung through the night.

At this time, troupes and singers are in high demand, often shuttling across the state.

Raghu, the troupe’s lead male singer, was married to Bhuvaneswari, who used to be the female vocalist before she chose to turn a homemaker to look after their two kids. “He was an excellent guitar player too and I wonder how I will be able to run this troupe without him,” said a tearful Ram.

According to Cheenu, a cousin of Raghu, the singer had his sights set on playback. “He was like any of the top Tamil film singers and was confident his stage performance would be noticed by one of the composers,” Cheenu said.