The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Idol twins have date with Big Two
Prashant (left) and Amit with Sonia. (PTI)
The final will be telecast on Sony from 9pm

Sept. 22: Fancy singing your way to a date a day — first with Sonia Gandhi and then the Prime Minister.

Indian Idol wannabes Amit Paul and Prashant Tamang managed exactly that in the frenzied run-up to Sunday’s 9pm grand finale, singing to each of them and getting a pat for having “brought the country together through music”.

The small-town boys — Amit is from Shillong and Prashant from Darjeeling — who have hit big-time on telly had a dream fulfilled today when Manmohan Singh, convalescing after surgery, agreed to have them over.

The duo, both 24, are believed to have sung a patriotic song — Sandese aate hain from the film Border —after briefly chatting with Singh about their musical odyssey. “Wonderfully sung,” he told them.

Their date with Sonia yesterday was much longer, though as sweet. They sang to her too, but the song has been kept a closely guarded secret that will out only when their interaction is broadcast tomorrow.

“She seemed to know all about the show but I can’t be a hundred per cent sure that she tunes in,” chuckled Niret Alva, who filmed the trio at 10 Janpath.

“She blessed them and said she was very proud of what they had achieved for the country.”

As the boys chewed their nails in Delhi, back in their hometowns, the Idol craze seemed to have peaked like never before. Prashant fans took out jeeps with loudspeakers in Darjeeling appealing to people to keep voting till lines close at 6pm tomorrow.

Amit fanatics sang, danced and campaigned well after Friday midnight in Shillong till police were forced to wield batons to disperse unruly elements.

“I am what I am because of you all. Whatever be the result tomorrow, I owe everything to you all,” Amit told The Telegraph today in a message to his fans.

“I cannot express my feelings in words. I just want to tell all of you who have stood by me that I love you.”

Amit said the results were immaterial as he had got what a performer always worked for — people’s love and affection.

“But people must keep a check on their emotions as winning and losing are a part of life. I will continue to sing for my fans,” he said.

In line with Amit’s appeal, the Shillong Art and Music Lovers’ Forum urged the people to “sportingly accept the mandate of the people”. Police have stepped up security to keep overzealous fans in check and ensure there are no law and order problems.

Similar measures were in place in the Darjeeling hills too, which stood as one behind Prashant. But a jarring note was struck when posters hitting out at GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh sprouted in Chowk Bazar, the heart of the town.

“If Prashant Tamang loses, we will not allow Subash Ghisingh to return to Darjeeling” — a poster in Nepali screamed.

Ghisingh had taken off for Bali in Indonesia on Thursday for a travel association meeting next week, overlooking the countdown to the grand finale tomorrow.

Angry people questioned why he had to leave without ensuring Prashant’s victory.

The GNLF was quick to react. “This looks like the job of the Opposition. This is, after all, a competition and someone will lose and another will win,” a leader said.

“It is our duty to ensure Prashant wins and we are trying our best. Subash Ghisingh has conveyed his best wishes.”

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