Gangtok, Nov. 27: The 12-year-old boy from Sikkim who had become the first runner-up in a talent hunt show conducted by a television channel returned here this evening to a rousing reception.
Hundreds of fans gathered at the Burtuk Helipad in East Sikkim to catch a glimpse of Deepraj Rai who arrived here on a Pawan Hans chopper accompanied by his father. The people were carrying placards and banners and cheered loudly when he landed.
"I am touched by the love and support of the people. I want to pursue my studies as well as singing. I want to become a professional singer and also want to participate in more such competitions in the future. I thank everyone for all the support" said the boy.
Deepraj has not got any formal training in music and is a Class VI student in Sai Gurukul Academy, Tadong. Deepraj's talent was spotted at a tourism festival earlier this year when he performed a Rajasthani folk song.
"My son used to lead the Sai Bhajans in the school and would often sing at home, but he got the opportunity to sing in front of a larger audience in the tourism festival. Someone from the crowd sent the video to Colors television channel. We were surprised when we got the call asking him to participate in the competition. We still don't know who sent the video," said the father, Dilip Rai.
A brief programme was held at MG Marg later in the evening to congratulate the young singer.
Human resource development minister N.K. Pradhan, who had come to congratulate Deepraj at MG Marg, said: "This is a very rare opportunity for the Sikkim people to showcase their talent on television. For us he is the winner."
The Gangtok MLA, Deorjee Namgyal, was also present.
Shahrukh Khan has promised to gift a new car to Deepraj who made it to the grand finale in the reality show. The boy was awarded a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.
"We are organising a felicitation for Deepraj at MG Marg on December 2. Then also, he can sing the songs which he performed in the competition," said the chairman of the Deepraj Fans Committee, Thuck Chuk Lachungpa.
The committee had mobilised an SMS voting campaign in the capital last week in favour of Deepraj.
Deepraj's best friend was also present at the helipad to greet him.
"I am very happy with his achievement. We sit on the same bench in school and Deepraj would always sing in our off periods," said 12-year-old Manish Sundas.
"He has made our school proud. He is a good student. He would often sing devotional songs at the school," said his teacher, Namrata Gurung.
Dilip Rai said his son was receiving a lot of offers from Bollywood music directors.
"He has also got an invitation to perform as the guest artiste in the popular television soap 'Balika Vadhu'. It is just like a dream for us," said the proud father.
Deepraj's mother, Bindu Rai, would be preparing a special treat of vegetable momos, which is his favourite, tonight.