Tilak Rishi's weblog

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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Susan Boyle, the Reshma of Britain

Last weekend, Susan Boyle was just a face in the crowd. This weekend, clips of her singing on Britain's Got Talent have notched up almost 50 million views on YouTube. Her face appears on the front pages of papers in Britain and beyond. Hollywood agents and talk-show bookers are jostling for a few minutes with Susan Boyle. The rise of the 47-year-old spinster from Scotland has been a true global phenomenon.

On Saturday's season premiere of " Britain's Got Talent," from the moment she stepped onstage, was perhaps the most unlikely star, until she started to sing. Boyle, who had some limited previous vocal training and then mostly in church choirs, shrewdly picked "I Dreamed a Dream," a heartbreaking ballad about unfulfilled dreams from the hit musical "Les Misérables." A few bars into the song, as her earthy, pleasing voice took command and soared over the auditorium, the crowd could be heard letting out a collective gasp, then starting to cheer raucously. Her voice confounded all expectations - the judges' eyes bulged, the crowd went wild and Boyle became an instant star. Ever since, the "fairytale" has travelled the globe. It is the story of a talent unearthed. Boyle has shattered prejudices about the connection between age, appearance and talent. She has proved that you don't have to be young and glamorous to be talented, and recognized as such. The YouTube millions have cheered on the underdog, and seen in her the possibilities for their own hopes and dreams.

Boyle's story resembles that of Reshma, the mesmerizing folk singer of Pakistan, who blazed a fiery trail in the firmament of Pakistan’s music galaxy. Born in Bikaner (Rajasthan) and raised in Pakistan, Reshma’s voice has a distinctive, rustic Rajasthani touch. Reshma’s gift for singing was discovered during one of her frequent performances at the shrines. Much of her childhood was spent performing at shrines of saints in Sindh. It was at such a performance when Salim Gilani, Director in Pakistan's radio station, heard her and asked her to perform on radio. The wheels of her illustrious career were thus set in motion, and soon Reshma had become a household name. Immortalizing songs such as Oh rabba do dinan da meil, thay phir lambhi judai. the songstress touched millions with the haunting melody of her songs. Reshma’s voice is that of Mother Earth, coming from deep, deep within the bowels of our consciousness, echoing hauntingly through the cold, dark, empty void of the universe. It is a voice unlike any other. Truly it is the voice of the desert - unending in its breadth and unrelenting in its depth, making listeners believe not only in passion, but experience all its manifestations – the torture of waiting for a beloved, the ecstasy of union, the sharp pain of betrayal, the sadness of loss.

Both performers are classic underdogs, non-threatening people who, in pursuing long-held dreams, managed to triumph over easily understood disadvantages. They both did not have any formal education and training in music, however they sang from their heart in churches and shrines before they were discovered for the world of music. And when it happened, the world stopped to hear them. They both have a voice that comes from the heart and the one that always touches the heart. Their voice possesses that rare quality that is often aspired to, but attained by only a chosen few – what one might almost call the sublime catharsis of the soul.