when the 11-year-old toothy smile tells you that she can sing, you go, yeah, ok. you look at the resume her proud father hands you and you say, ok, so she can sing. she did, after all, make it to the mega finals of anu kapoor's aao jhoome gaaye and says she did that without any classical training or major musical tutoring. but nothing quite prepares you for the taste of the pudding, when you ask for proof. abhilasha chellam clears her throat and launches into an old hindi song we haven't heard of and her tiny voice is suddenly transformed into this resonant sound that fills the room with sweet melody. and there isn't even any accompaniment. abhilasha is a talent that no less than mohammed aziz bowed before, when he heard her do ae mere watan ke logon on the aao jhume gao show. back home, abhilasha was one of the performers who stole the limelight at the indradhanush showcase of pune's talent, put up for the recent pune festival. manna dey, zakir hussain and durga jasraj have all doffed their hat to abhilasha's vocal prowess. one gets the feeling that if this talent doesn't go places, it will be a tragedy. but at 11, the giggle-prone student of at anne's high school is oblivious to the greater implications of her voice. she just likes to sing and wants to become like lata mangeshkar.
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